3 Quality Sushi Rolls for $10? Aoki Me!

**************The Price of This Lunch Has Gone Up to $11******************

The search for good (but cheap) sushi in Midtown has been an arduous one. Good is not really the issue, since there is plenty of amazing Japanese food in Midtown. Good and cheap is a different story. Try for under $10, and you’re in a danger zone, where better quality is tempered with smaller portions- and cheapness leaves you wondering about exactly what it is you’re eating. There are a few mediocre take out choices (Naruto or Midtown delis), but I think if quality is your main concern, then the sit down restaurants, where the sushi is made to order, is the way to go.

Most of the mid range places in Midtown have a lunch deal where you can usually get two rolls with a soup or salad for under $10. Taki (on 48th btw. 5+6th), and Kikku (on 55th btw. 5+6th) are two pretty popular choices, but two rolls for lunch always leaves me wanting, both for quantity and variety. Give me 3 rolls for $10, and now we’re talking. For months now, two of my co-workers have been extolling the virtues of Aoki, a sit down sushi place (on 48th btw. B’way+8th), with the holy grail of sushi lunch specials. My craving for quality sushi overtook my usual reluctance to get lunch from a place where you have to order from a waitress, or take the food to go… but 3 rolls for $10 will do crazy things to a man.

What I got, and a +/- after the jump…

Even at sit down restaurants there can be concerns when it comes to sushi. 3 rolls for $10 sounds great on paper, but what are you actually getting? Some places will limit your selecton, forcing you into choosing from cheaper rolls, like california or cucumber. Not Aoki. Their sushi roll lunch menu is pretty long, and even includes some big money items like the shrimp tempura roll. They also improve upon the standard spicy tuna roll by offering a “crunchy” version, that includes the addition of tempura bits into the spicy tuna mixture. (Is there anything not improved by adding bits of fried stuff to it?)

My favorite combo is the eel and avocado roll and spicy tuna roll, so I went with those two (the cruncy version of the spicy tuna roll of course), and for my third roll I couldn’t resist ordering the shrimp tempura roll. I wouldn’t normally order more cooked food than raw, but the lure of the shrimp tempura, a roll that can cost $10 on its own at some sushi restaurants, was just too great to overcome. The remaining two fears (quality and quantity) were pretty quickly put to bed…

A ton of food, and it tasted great. The quality of the eel was much better than you get at most cheap sushi places, and everything tasted really fresh and delicious. Since spicy tuna is usually the chopped up dregs, it’s hard to judge the quality of a restaurant’s fish based on that one roll- but considering my experience and how much my co-workers love this place- I think you’d be hard pressed to find better sushi in Midtown for the price. If 3 rolls seems like too much, they offer a two rolls lunch special for $8- but for an extra $2 it’s almost like they are paying you to take a third roll. Don’t be a wuss…

Of course, when something is too good to be true, then chances are it’s too good to be true, and with food costs rising at a pretty alarming rate, I give this place about a month and a half before they realize what suckers they are and raise the prices. In other words, get in while the gettins good, because eventually, they are going to pull a Del Frisco’s, and the holy grail of sushi will become a mysterious hidden treasure once again.

THE +

  • 3 rolls for $10. Does it get any better than that?
  • You get 24 rolls to choose from, and includes some particularly great ones like crunchy spicy tuna and shrimp tempura
  • The rolls are a good size, unlike the 1/2″ tall rolls you get at delis and even though they’re only 6 pieces each, it’s a pretty great deal for the quality.
  • They’re made to order

THE -

  • It’s a sit down place with waitresses, so in order to keep the cost around $10 you have to order for pick up and take it to go.
  • The rolls are only 6 pieces each, not 8 pieces
  • Eventually they are going to raise the price…

Aoki, 234 W. 48th St. (btw. B’way+8th), 212-956-2356

21 Comments

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    I like this place the taste of sushi is not so yummy. I eat sushi last week at Jack’s slider and Sushi restaurant at the lower east side of New York and that taste of sushi is still in my mouth.

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