Yushi Bento Bar Brings Style Over Substance to Midtown

After doing this site for over a year, I have become the go to guy for lunch recommedations at my work.  And while I’m usually pretty good for a decent suggestion, there is one request that has, and will always stump me.  “Where can I get something healthy?”  I’ve been to a ton of places in Midtown, and they all have one thing in common.  None of them are healthy.  (Look at my flickr page for proof.  It’s not a pretty sight.)

What can I say?  Fat guys don’t eat healthy food.  If we did, we wouldn’t be fat anymore, and then we couldn’t make jokes about how fat we are for the amusement of people who read our websites.  Plus, you’re not going to trust a skinny guy to tell you where good food is.  I guess I wouldn’t mind eating healthy, if it tasted good- and they gave you more of it.  Healthy food is always less filling.  Maybe if they had healthy food, in an all you can eat buffet form, I’d be down with it.

What did you just say?  Buffet form would automatically make it unhealthy?  Oh.  Well, that sucks.

It’s just unhealthy food tastes so much better.  Well, Yushi is trying to change that.  It’s a new “Bento Bar” that opened up on 47th btw. Park & Lex, serving healthy bento boxes.  You know I love a good bento, so last week I headed over to check it out.

What they’ve got, healthy bento porn and the +/- after the jump…After looking at the menu, Yushi almost got disqualified from Midtown Lunch status based on price alone.  4 of their sushi bentos are over $10.95, and 2 of their 5 non sushi bentos were $9.95, putting them just on the cusp (over if you consider tax).  But, they had two soups, and 3 bentos under $8, and 3 bentos that were $9, so it could work.  And I can’t turn down the opportunity to try new Asian food, so here it is.

With prices like this I knew there was a good chance that Yushi was going to be one of those over-priced, over styled, Midtown’ish kind of places, where you don’t get nearly enough food, but pay through the nose for it.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Clearly it is style over substance, and they want you to feel like you are paying for quality, rather than quantity… so if that’s not your thing, you will probably want to avoid Yushi.

Ignoring the prices, and the small’ish portions, everything did look delicious.  If you’re into sushi, the sushi and sashimi bentos were beautifully presented, and all come with greens or the Yushi noodle salad- but the best looking bentos were the no sushi boxes that featured perfectly seared tuna, salmon or beef tenderloin, all beautifully raw in the middle.  I ended up going with the Prime Tataki and Soba, a beef carpaccio like dish served with greens, edamame and the Yushi Noodle salad.

That’s where things started to go a little wrong.  I took a few bites, and it tasted like nothing.  There was absolutely no flavor.  The beef was cooked perfectly (seared a tiny bit on the outside, and totally raw on the inside), but it wasn’t really seasoned, and the soba noodle salad was abolutely flavorless.  It was then I realized they forgot to give me the shallot and pepper dressing.  Once I poured that over everything, the dish tasted a lot better.

In fact they had a lot of dressings which seemed to be where all of the dishes get their flavor.  They’ve got a great jalepeno one, a pickled ginger one, thai chili, coriander and a sesame ponzu dressing. Make sure you don’t get cheated out of yours.  At $9.95 I’m torn to say I loved my lunch.  But, it didn’t taste bad, and it’s easily the cheapest beef carpaccio you are going to get for lunch in Midtown.

My wife, who was shocked by how expensive everything was, could not bring herself to buy one of the overpriced & underfilled bentos.  She opted for the Homemade Dumpling Udon, which at $7 was one of the relative bargains of Yushi.  It ended up being very tasty, with a miso style broth packed with udon noodles and these big vegetable dumplings- the whole thing peppered with pumpkin seeds.  Sure, the noodles were a little on the mushy side, and the dumplings were overcooked, but the broth was tasty, and it was one of the few things on the menu where you felt as if you were getting your money’s worth.

Despite everything tasting good, we were pretty down on the place overall, because in the end my wife and I are more about value than style.  If someone is doing something unique, like Oms/b, I don’t mind paying for it, but for bento boxes- there are too many great places in Midtown, that are way cheaper and you get more food.  In fairness to Yushi though, the ingredients are top notch, the presentation is beautiful and they clearly are trying to make quick and healthy food that is beautiful.  I didn’t notice it while we were there, but all the bentos have the calories listed, and they are healthy, and less fattening than anything I normally eat for lunch.

Yushi is a classic example of a place that some people are going to love and some people are going to hate- and it has nothing to do with the food.  It is the perfect place for a +/- because your enjoyment of Yushi will depend entirely on what you are looking for in a Midtown Lunch.  If you are looking for healthy, but made with quality ingredients in a stylish way, you will love Yushi.  It also helps if money is not an issue.  If you are looking for a cheap, authentic Japanese lunch where you are getting the most for your money, then Yushi is not the place for you.  You are better off sticking to one of the places on 41st St.

For me, I will probably not be back to Yushi.  Unless I win the lottery, and simultaneously decide I don’t want to be fat anymore.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say about it)

  • Beautiful, hand crafted Japanese style food
  • The quality of the meat and fish is so much higher than that of any take out Japanese place in Midtown
  • I love raw beef, and this is the only place to get it for under $10, and take out from  a place that I would trust eating raw beef from
  • All the seared bentos are perfeclty cooked
  • I want to lose weight, and everything has very little calories
  • I like my sushi rolls served in sleek plastic tubes that look like they are going to be shot through one of those drive through bank teller machines
  • I am all about portion control, and don’t need to eat like a fat pig at lunchtime

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place will say about it)

  • Too expensive, and not enough food
  • There are much better places to get Japanese Noodle soups
  • There are much better places to get Japanese Bento Boxes
  • I prefer authentic Japanese bento boxes.  These are hip, overpriced Midtown bento boxes
  • I don’t care about portion control, and want to eat like a fat pig at lunchtime.

Yushi, 245 Park Ave. (But it’s actually on 47th St. closer to Lexington), 212-687-1900

To see full size photos, check out the Midtown Lunch Flickr Photo Page.


  • I checked out Yushi for lunch today. GREAT recommendation! I had a Baja Free-Range Chicken salad with sesame dressing and it was incredible. Everything was fresh and tasted delicious. The place is immaculate, the staff was friendly and helpful, In addition, the presentation was top-notch.

  • Trouble is in NYC no one wants to pay, For ANYTHING.

    Quality costs, and as for the seared beef fillet…..fillet of beef is without taste its just tender. And What are noodles supposed to taste of?

  • Those are so beautiful! And the sushi-bank-tube things, awesome + innovative. I just started getting into bringing my own bento to work… it’s insane how much work goes into bringing a little bit of food to work, but it’s worth it. I’ll pass on this place tho – overpriced and I don’t get to eat like a fat pig?!

    There is a downtown version too… 4 World Financial Center, right on Vesey. -zach

  • I walked by the banner on 47th btw Park and Lex last night, but did not see the actual bar….where exactly is it?? How did I miss it?

  • Not sure what the reviewer was eating..but I AM ADDICTED, the place is great !!! This is by far the best new dining spot in midtown. Stylish, amazingly flavorful, and SO HEALTHY. I wish there was one by my house, but for now I will just grab one of the fantastic dinner hot bentos. Last night I had the teriyaki chicken and it was great. I have been twice this week and I’m sure I’ll go again tomorrow. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YUSHI.

  • i am so psyched. I ate lunch here twice last week and twice this week and every dish has been great. I still have not had the same thing twice and the different salad dressing are all so flavorful. I can’t believe this concept hasn’t been opened before, but Yushi is fantastic. A friend told me they have a few great hot dinner bentos and I look forward to trying them too. I am going to tell everyone to try it, because the whole experience is great. try a crushie too, I had the frosty fruit, and it was better then anything at Jamba.

  • Yushi is an absolute breath of fresh air! Gorgeous, delicious, healthy food, all packed and waiting to grab and go. I am so lucky to finally have a place like this in the ‘hood. I will definitely be getting my lunches here from now on.

  • The review got it half wrong – Not only is the place stylish, but IS HAS TONS OF SUBSTANCE . I think the place rocks and the music is great, the staff so helpful and those damn crushies are addictive. Judging from my visit today, the neighborhood is finding out and this place is going to be packed soon. Even though it was busy today, the seared tuna salad was fantastic (i had the corriander dressing – so fresh). Yushi guys, if you read this keep up the great job, your concept is amazing.

  • i’m a bit stuck on this…..i almost didn’t visit this place on account of the comments re pricing….i mean how much do you actually expect to spend on food of this quality?
    the food is incredible, i have a stict $10 ceiling for lunch and there are loads of options under that…..and some above for the weekly indulgence….
    you can tell when fresh, expensive fish is being used and these guys are doing it right…i’ve been twice in 2 days!!

  • Is it just me or do these last comments smell fishy? Methinks something’s rotten in Midtown.

  • Googled yushi to see what the word was, work next to the 245 location, i was a bit baffled by the neg feedback! Working in this area I have yet to find a loca with great quality and tasting food for the price! Seriously, complaints about the price seem a little ridiculous, unless you eat at Wendy’s everyday. Pleasant staff and great experience! Never been on this site before but those that may frequent it trust me, best bang for your buck!!!

  • I was on my lunch break yesterday when I spotted this cute little sushi place. I walked in and was very impressed…the space is absolutely adorable, and I’m a huge sushi fanatic, so of course I decided to give it a try. So glad I did…it was fast, easy, and delicious. This is definitely my new lunch spot!

  • There’s a Yushi at World Financial downtown. It use to be Itsu, the london chain and got rebranded. I really like the salmon and tuna bento’s, it’s always really fresh and the sauces are great.

  • There was buzz around the office to check this place out and now I know why. I have had lunch there a few times since it opened and love the quality food, the music can leave something to be desired, I’ve heard the same cd each time, but it’s new. For finding good food at a reasonable price this neighborhood can be tricky, not sure what all the fuss is over the cost, where cost is concerned I found it on par or under to most places. i think I tend to agree more with the Zagat review, check it out.

  • I eat lunch at Yushi, previously known as itsu, in the world financial center a couple times a month and the food is just OK.

    They’ve been getting pretty cheeky about putting less dumplings and noodles in the vegetarian dumpling soup. Plus, the service isn’t very good. I am also very skeptical about the calories claims for the noodle soup.

  • The guys at yushi are in deed new, but what concept is new about this place? plastic film wrapped rolls? Been done. Overly stylish to compensate for lack of…..?

    And if you’r going to post fake comments about your own place, at leats make them spaced out, not one after another, at least! credibility down the drain….

  • I have a love/hate relationship with Yushi. I work in the WFC, and find Yushi convenient and relatively healthy. Although the fish quality is good and the sauces are tasty, I don’t think a very traditional sushi chef has anything to worry about. The fish isn’t cut properly and the texture of the rice is not consistent.

    The thing I hate most about Yushi is all the little sauce containers and all the plastic they use. I’m not hyper green or anything, but I imagine all the Yushi shops collectively can do some damage in a landfill.

  • Holy crap I can’t believe I called the phony Yushi shills! Our long midtown nightmare is finally over!

  • okay, I finally found this place…completely overpriced! stick to 41st street between 5th and Mad….

  • Had their Mini Bento Beef Skewer box. Awful, just awful. Beef was like leather, not to mention the sauce was sickeningly sweet. Seriously, the meat had to be of the lowest grade allowable by the USDA. I threw away most of it because it was simply unchewable. The box did look very nice though, which is why I was fooled. All style, zero substance.

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