By: Michelle Hu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Craving sushi but can’t afford it on a low budget? The Journey on 96th St. caters to anyone’s sushi needs and more.
The Journey is a newly opened restaurant on 96th and I-69 that serves seafood in a classy and elegant setting. Much of the food can be found in other Chinese or Asian restaurants, but unlike the generic Chinese buffets, The Journey’s selections are highly westernized. Your taste buds won’t pick up on any excess deep fried oil or MSG, and you can put in as much or as little soy sauce as you’d like.
The restaurant’s theme is based off a sea journey. There are blue and green tiles everywhere to create the atmosphere of being on a cruise, especially with all the life preservers and anchors hanging on the walls. The salad bar even looks like a miniature ship.
And yes, The Journey is a buffet, but a very classy buffet. Not only do the waiters and waitresses look highly professional in their pristine uniforms, but they also are quite helpful, as was seen when ours offered to take pictures for our group and even had a couple of pens on hand to offer me when I had forgotten mine.
For those who have experienced authentic Chinese restaurants, either in China or in the local area, the cleanliness isn’t as up to par as people would expect. On the other hand, The Journey is immaculately clean, including the restrooms, according to our photographer.
The price is definitely higher than your typical “$4.99 all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet” deals, but the $16.99 plus tax dinner buffet is worth it. There are almost 30 different types of sushi—trust us, we counted—and for brave souls, there are squid, eel and even caviar sushi. There is one characteristic that sushi connoisseurs will immediately notice, however. The rolls look as if they were cut in a quick and sloppy manner, and when choosing that perfect piece of sushi, it will sometimes fall apart in your tongs. Beware of the wasabi, also. It tends to be just a little more extreme than most people can handle.
But, if you are going with a family that includes young, picky children, there are selections that even they cannot complain about, including pizza, lasagna and macaroni and cheese. And speaking of spoiled siblings, the chocolate fountain is sure to make them zip up their complaints. It’s a multi-tiered fondue machine where patrons can stick toothpicks in wafers, marshmallows, strawberries and bananas—though slightly spoiled chunks of fruit—and smother them in liquid chocolate to their hearts’ content.
Most of The Journey’s selections involve seafood, but they also offer stir fry noodles, a wonderful salad bar, steak, potstickers and even crepes. Some of the food is cooked right in front of you, so don’t fret about freshness. The cooks can speak Chinese or Japanese, too, so feel free to converse with them while waiting patiently for your freshly fried seafood ball. The dessert is fairly decent, also. I don’t suggest trying the cakes or anything else in the dessert bar, really, but the ice cream is worth picking up after dinner. It’s already scooped out for you in neat little bowls, so all you have to do is open the freezer and choose one.
All in all, The Journey just makes you want to return and try a different dish each time. One of the few downsides is that it’s quite a drive from Carmel, and at night, if you’re not acquainted with the area, you might get lost and end up in Geist, as our party did. Another downside is the pricing, as most buffets cost nowhere near $16.99 per guest, but it does give you convenience to pay $20 total, including tip. Oh, and if you’re planning on going to eat during lunch hours, your receipt will already include your “service expense,” a euphemism for your tip. Also, make a reservation. It is probably the most important action you can take, especially if you don’t want to spend half an hour standing outside at night. Luckily, our group did have a reservation and thus, we were ushered in immediately. Do the same, and you’ll be sure to enjoy your seafood journey.