Kikku… Trying to prove there is such a thing as good, cheap sushi in Midtown
Searching for good, cheap sushi in Midtown has always been a difficult proposition. It is not hard to find since every single deli now has a sushi bar. But how cheap is too cheap? At some point, when raw fish costs too little, you have to wonder whether eating this food that makes no financial sense for the people selling it, is going to make you sick (or taste just plain terrible). Now, some people can’t or won’t eat cheap sushi, and I can totally appreciate that mentality. After a meal at Sushi Seki or Soto, it’s easy to understand why there is a group of people (usually with a ton of money) who would never eat cheap sushi. I’m not one of those people. I can appreciate both ends of the sushi spectrum- in the same way I can enjoy a fast food hamburger while still appreciating the greatness of a steak from Peter Luger’s. Similar ingredients, of very different quality, with different preparations.
In the end, it’s all about balance. The goal- finding something that is not so cheap it’s just gross, but not too good, because then it ends up being too expensive for Midtown Lunch’ing. I’m pretty excited for the new conveyor belt sushi place opening at the end of the year, but I know in my heart that filling up at Sakae Sushi for under $10 is going to be a very difficult task. In the end, I can’t seem to find an end all be all for cheap sushi. There are some delis with decent sushi counters (Cafe Duke is ok, as is Variety Cafe on 48th btw. 5+6th), but none that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Yummy Sushi in rock center is pretty bad. Kiiroi Hana, a restaurant that served to go sushi on the sidewalk of 56th St. was pretty good, but it closed. In the end, even good pre-packaged sushi is still pre-packaged, and your best bet is to find a sit down place with a really good lunch special
My favorite, hands down, used to be Wu Kong on 46th, a Chinese/Japanese combo, but it closed over a year ago- leaving me searching for a replacement. Taki Sushi on 48th btw. 5+6th is pretty good, but when I wrote about that place I got a ton of people who recomended Kikku on 55th btw. 5+6th, claiming that it is the best cheap sushi in Midtown.
I finally made it down there last week. What we ordered, and a +/- after the jump…
Kikku is a tiny little Japanese restaurant on the second floor of a building on 55th btw. 56th. The entire restaurant probably only seats about 20-25 people at the most, and on some days it can be pretty tough to get a table. That being said, the price is right. Two rolls of you choosing for $7.95 (unless you want non raw fish rolls, like cucumber- in which case it is even cheaper), and you get your choice of soup or salad.
I’m a big fan of eel and avocado & spicy tuna (alternating bites between the sweet and spicy), so any place that allows me to get that combo, is alright in my book. My wife had the California Roll & Tuna+Avocado Roll, giving me a chance to try those as well. You can also get Yellowtail+Scallion, Salmon Skin, Plain Tuna Roll and a few other choices.
The quality of the fish was very nice, and the rolls were an ok size (with the California & Tuna/Avocado faring much better than my eel & spicy tuna), but with a very good rice to fish ratio. All in all they were bigger than what you get in a pre-packaged sushi place, but smaller than a lot of sushi restaurants where you pay for ala carte rolls. At least they don’t pad the rolls with a ton of rice. The only complaint I would have, and this may be a + for some, is that the rice was 100% not seasoned. No vinegar at all, and for me that gave it a weird “something’s missing” kind of taste. My wife, who doesn’t like overseasoned sushi rice, didn’t seem to mind, leading me to believe that some people may be into this type of sushi.
With tax and tip, the meal ended up being $10 a piece, putting it right at the Midtown Lunch price limit. A third roll can be added to your combo, but that would put you over the top from a price standpoint. All in all, I felt like we got what we paid for, and the quality was definitely better than what you get prepackaged in a deli. It’s not the end all be all of outstanding sushi, but what do you expect for $10?
- Quality sushi, made fresh, for $10
- Very good quality fish for the price
- I can order Spicy Tuna & Eel+Avocado- my favorite combo
- If you don’t like vinegary sushi rice, you will love this place!
- You get orange wedges at the end of the meal. Very exciting!
- The rice is not seasoned, so you may feel like something is missing
- There aren’t a *ton* of options for the combo meal. Nothing too exciting…
- The rolls aren’t too small, but they’re not satisfyingly large either
- Two rolls isn’t enough for lunch (for some people) and three rolls puts you over the $10 Midtown Lunch’ing limit
- The dining room is tiny, so you may have to wait or take your food to go
Kikku, 50 w. 55th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-582-8357