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It seems like just yesterday I was writing for our sister publication, Exec Digital, on the best sushi in the world. We explored the absolute best in omakase – luxurious cuts of sashimi, served atop perfectly seasoned hand-molded rice, perfectly choreographed with beautiful presentations.
But here’s the rub: we can’t all have $300 omakase tastings every week. Even if we can afford it, who has the time? Some days, all we want is to pop in for a cheap, casual, quick flavor sensation. Especially in the dog days of summer – when cool cuts of fish and the crunch of a fresh cucumber can be the perfect offset to a sweltering day (doubled when it’s paired with an ice cold 32oz of Japanese liquid refreshment).
But just because we’re going cheap, that doesn’t mean we’re easy. We don’t go in for boring, poorly made California rolls around here. We want the best sushi bars that give cheap sushi a good name. Here are a few that go the distance.
“Many sushi restaurants dare to outsource the vinegar for sushi rice, which is the most important part of making sushi – they use chemical seasonings, artificial colorings, artificial sweeteners, or artificial preservatives,” says Kura Corporation President Kunihiko Tanaka. But Kura is different, embracing a “FOOD REVOLUTION” philosophy of providing natural, organic, additive-free food based on traditional Japanese sushi bar cuisine.
But can a wholesome and all-natural sushi bar also be cheap? Kurazushi says yes, pricing each of its dishes at an unprecedented ¥100 a pop. ($2 in the U.S.)
Prevailing stereotypes suggest you won’t get much in the way of natural, organic anything for $2, let alone sushi. Luckily, that stereotype couldn’t be more wrong. Kurazushi’s plates are filled with delights like squid and shiso leaf nigiri, tuna yukke gunkanmaki (that’s marinated tuna, chives, ginger, and a soft poached quail egg on a nori-wrapped bed of sushi rice), and an avocado-filled Kula Special Roll topped with lemony seared salmon belly. Plates may carry two or four pieces each, depending on the richness of the ingredients, but you can rest assured that every single plate coming down the conveyor belt is a mere $2.
Right now, Kurazushi only has one U.S. location – in Irvine, CA, at the incomparable Diamond Jamboree shopping center, where it’s known as Kula Revolving Sushi Bar – but that should be changing soon. A Rowland Heights sushi bar location is opening this month, and Kura Corporation is actively scouting throughout California and the Las Vegas area. Any takers?
From Downtown to Convoy St., San Diego is packed with sushi bars and restaurants. So why is it impossible to get in to one of Sushi Deli’s three sushi bar locations without an hour-plus wait?
It probably has something to do with their list of over 50 delicious and novel sushi rolls that range from the simple (the creamy avocado and sweet potato tempura stuffed Shauna Roll) to the delectably complicated (the Azusa roll with its jalapeno, cilantro, crunchies, and a multitude of fish).
It might also have to do with Sushi Deli’s Drink Special (a large beer and a small carafe of hot sake for $5.50, or $3.50 during happy hour), but that’s just to help the sushi rolls go down smoother.
When you think of a good, fresh, cheap sushi bar, do you think of London? Perhaps you should. YO! Sushi CEO Robin Rowland has built the concept of cheap sushi done right into a veritable empire, with 60 sushi bars throughout the UK and into Portugal and the Middle East.
YO! Sushi’s revolving sushi bars make pricing easy, with color coded plates that correspond to price points outlined on your menu. Depending on your mood and your pocketbook, you can pick from a range of bite-sized sushi bar treats including crispy duck futomaki, lobster and yuzu tobiko gunkanmaki, and vegetarian hand rolls. You can also go off the regular sushi bar menu to sample YO! Sushi’s selection of soups, izakaya small bites, and katsu curries.
If you find yourself in Brooklyn, in the Bushwick neck of the woods, chances are you’re not exactly hurting for trendy yet inexpensive dining options. Momo Sushi Shack, however, is at the top of the sushi bar heap with impossibly fresh ingredients at Williamsburg hipster-friendly prices.
Having a party? Order Momo’s $19 party bomb, a twelve-piece platter piled with organic salmon, tuna, barbecued eel, wasabi cream, and other tasty toppings. Momo’s more traditional sushi bar offerings include a wealth of rolls, including an impressive vegetarian/vegan selection, and some extra special izakaya offerings like sunonomo (“Japanese ceviche”) and the soy-sake glazed Pork Betty.