January 13, 2010 | 6:33am
During about the 15th time they repeated, "Just don't lose your identity. Don't lose yourself," a text message arrived from a fellow foodie announcing: "New Asian buffet opening tonight in Davie. Called Shinju. Lots of sushi + rolls! Cheap!"
I knew Mr. Persnickety was going to have to escort me there that very night whether he was into it or not.
"We're going out for Japanese tonight. I'm craving sushi," I announced as he
arrived at my door. "You can stop at Burger King on the way if
you'd like to shove down a burger, but you're taking me out to Shinju."
The guy didn't have a chance. Inside my head, I was doing a Cruella de Vil
laugh, thinking "Ha ha ha! You will eat what I want tonight, my
friend." But the truth is, he's such a nice guy that he probably
would've taken me there anyhow.
Inside, the décor included the expected paper lantern lights and tall booths with Asian-lettering on the tabletops. Nothing fancy, for sure, but also no algae-ridden fish tanks and light fixtures caked with enough cobwebs to house a spider commune.We perused the buffet, partly because I wanted to look for signs of construction dust, stray hairs, entrées that had been sitting out too long, or empty metal bins. Sorry for being such a Negative Nelly, but I've experienced the aforementioned more times than I'd like to admit.
What we were pleased to find instead was a clean spot with an abundance of Chinese and Japanese eats, plus hibachi for traditionalists. We signaled to the waitress that all systems were "Go!" and began to pile our plates high. I tried at least two dozen of the 30 types of sushi rolls, ranking each one "palatable" to "pretty darned good." I also grabbed a few pieces of veggie tempura and indulged in a crab leg and some seaweed salad. He got nothing from the Japanese side but edamame, opting instead for a plate full of spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken, beef with broccoli, and sesame chicken.
For dessert, I scooped some ice cream -- one ball of green tea and one of red bean -- and plopped some tapioca in a dish. He opted for pistachio ice cream, a square of chocolate brownie/cake, and slice of something cake-like with neon pink icing that tasted like Cap'n Crunch. Neither of us went for the wiggly Jello cubes or any of the fresh fruit. Why bother going all Weight Watchers at this point, right?
As we gorged ourselves, we came up with the following lists:
Why Shinju is a great place to bring a date
• There won't be any surprises when the bill arrives. (Unless you find out your partner can pound some serious sake.)
• It's casual yet classy. Jeans and flip-flops are passable, but the environment is so nice, you'll feel a little shameful for dressing like a slob-ola.
• Even if your amour is a picky eater, there's something he or she is bound to enjoy.
• Servers won't interrupt you often, so you can be as smoochy-oochy as you like.
Why it's not:
• Your date will witness how truly gluttonous you can be.
• Three words: flat-screen televisions. Any resto that has a game showing is bound to distract a man. [Obviously, this bullet point was my contribution, not his.]
• Crazy food combining can sometimes lead to gas. Not so sexy.
• Overindulgence causes comatose behavior. "Let's get it on" becomes "Let's take a nap" by the time you pull into the driveway.
We still decided Shinju was a true find, though the score was even. As we polished off six plates of food between us, I rehashed the earlier conversation I had with my parents that day. Mr. P. said he did notice a change in me and asked that I go back to my former self, even if that character was occasionally overbearing, cranky, and less-than-entirely domesticated. I conceded, but only with the understanding that the old Riki gets her regular sushi fix. Then he fed me a cream puff and my face puckered up. It was too sweet to bear. Guess now that I can get back to being the old Riki; at least there's no chance I'll ever be perceived that same way.
Shinju Japanese Buffet is located at 3305 S. University Drive in Davie. Call 954-472-3666.
Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try to eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens, and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.