I grew up riding my bike to the Friendly’s in Glenville, where I would buy an ice cream cone and careen back out onto the road, eating it on my way home.
That building is the setting of many of my most-loved childhood memories, so when the long-closed storefront was converted into a new restaurant, I was hopeful that it could add to my memories of relaxing, carefree days.
Neon Sushi greets its guests with an entrance lined by plastic bamboo and bottles that glow in the dark. But don’t be deceived — the menu prices are higher than many upscale restaurants. Sadly, the food doesn’t live up to the price, and the new servers desperately need more training.
WHERE: 247 Saratoga Road, Glenville. 280-3886, www.neon-sushi.com
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
More INFO: Handicapped accessible. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover accepted.
My dining companion received her appetizer, and then half of her entree, before I got anything to eat. Eventually I was served my entree, and about 20 minutes later the server returned with the other half of my companion’s entree.
At the end of the meal, as I was contemplating the dessert menu, my appetizer finally arrived.
Three times we gently asked after the whereabouts of my beef tataki appetizer ($8.50), which was billed to be thinly sliced rare beef. Each time, the waitress assured us it was coming soon.
It wasn’t worth the wait.
I had reassured myself that surely they were cooking it fresh, and I would at least be guaranteed truly rare beef. Instead I got thick slices of thoroughly cooked beef. Disappointing.
At my urging, my companion began her appetizer while we waited for the rest of our food. She ordered a tuna martini ($11), which she loved. The fresh tuna was not spicy nor crunchy, as the menu had described, but she found it lovely anyway.
Raw tuna is clearly what this restaurant does well.
The good stuff
The restaurant’s signature sushi rolls were unique and tasty. We loved the Grazy Monkey ($12), which was a fried banana in the middle of a traditional tuna sushi roll, topped with fried shrimp. The sweetness of the banana perfectly blended with the fried shrimp. I’ve never before had such a sushi roll — or even contemplated the existence of something like it — but it was delicious. We argued over who got to have the last bite.
I also enjoyed the Super Men roll ($11), which had tuna and avocado topped with salmon. This was quite spicy, but well worth it.
The Spider Web roll ($13) had an excellent crunch to it that I’ve never had with sushi before. It matched soft-shell crab and fresh tuna with seared tuna. It was excellent.
But I can’t say the same for other dishes.
My companion tried the Hibachi Seafood Combo ($31), with cooked shrimp, scallops and lobster. It came with a gigantic ball of fried rice, which tasted, she said, “a little flat.”
“I would expect that from a corner takeout,” she said as she glumly pushed at it, trying to find a tastier portion.
She was pleased with the lobster, which she said was clearly cooked fresh. It was seared enough to make it crunchy, but it wasn’t rubbery.
She also asked for an Alaska Maki sushi roll ($5.50), which was the simple type of sushi you can find anywhere: salmon, cucumber and avocado. But the avocado overwhelmed the roll, and the rice was tasteless.
“There’s way too much avocado and not nearly enough fish,” she said.
Time for dessert
By the time my late appetizer arrived, we were disappointed by the entire experience, but we decided to order dessert anyway. They had one of my favorites: fried ice cream ($5).
To my dismay, what I actually received was a mound of moist dough.
The cake had absorbed so much of the batter that it didn’t form a fried edge. Inside was a scoop of the sort of vanilla ice cream you would expect from an old box of grocery-store brand ice cream.
My companion was wiser and ordered Blood Orange Mascarpone Mousse ($8), which is delivered from Bindi Fantasia Bel Dessert. She loved it, saying it was light, fluffy and tasty.
We left wishing the rest of our visit could have been as uplifting.