And the Sushi Parade Marches On… to Norimaki
My search for decent (but cheap) sushi in Midtown has been well documented, and while I think Aoki on 48th btw. 7+8th is probably the best quality to price ratio (even with their recent increase), it still isn’t truly a Midtown Lunch. You have to sit in a pretty nice restaurant and order from a waiter, or order in advance, and take the food to go. I still haven’t found a true take out sushi place to fully get behind, and it’s that quest, which took me to Norimaki on Monday.
Situated in a long and thin, oddly antiseptic storefront on 35th btw. 7+8th, there is still a lot to like about Norimaki. You order from a counter, but they have a number of tables, and a long bar with stools for you to eat your sushi at. They have pre-made rolls, or you can order your food to be assembled fresh, and everything is sold in very small portions (mostly 3 pieces) so you can mix and match for optimum variety.
With variety being one of the most important things I look for in a lunch, the concept at Norimaki (for me) is pure genius. Whenever I buy pre packaged sushi from a generic Midtown deli, I always have difficulty finding that perfect combo- which for me is spicy tuna, bbq eel (ideally with avocado), and some other non-california fish filled roll. At Norimaki, because every roll is sold in 3 pieces, you can create your own perfect combo, and at around $1.99 each, you can get 15 pieces for around $10.
3 full sushi rolls (18-24 pieces) is my ideal lunch, but I’m willing to compromise if I can make my own perfect take out sushi box. I ended up going with 4 rolls (I wanted the tempura roll, which is $2.55 so I had to go with the $1.55 giant shumai to keep me at $10), but was pretty disappointed with the size when my plate arrived.
$2 for 3 pieces is not exactly a bargain, and they’re pretty skimpy with the portions. It could have been forgivable if the sushi was the best ever, but I had a few problems with what I ordered. The shrimp tempura, despite being “made to order”, was totally soggy (the crunch is the whole reason to get it!), and while I enjoyed the “special” giant shumai, it was nearly giant enough to be worth the $1.50. (Keep in mind these photos are close-ups!)
That being said, the sushi was of a slightly better quality then you get at the takeout counter of some Midtown delis, but the serving size is not really big enough for you to taste the fish anyway. They do have a pre-set lunch with 3 pre-set lunches for $8 and under, which give you 12 pieces plus a house salad or miso soup. I ended up hitting up the Fuji Bakery next door, for a “fill you up after a light lunch”, custard bun (75 cents).
In retrospect, I probably should have gone for the lunch set, and maybe added one more $1.99 roll to my order. It’s clearly the way to go, even though you forfeit the right to choose exactly what you want (one of the biggest plusses of the place).
One of things people will probably find most comforting is their proudly displayed “Golden Apple Award”. Placed on an ironically colored yellow paper (that’s the color of the Dept. of Healthy closure stickers), the Golden Apple is awarded by the DOH to restaraunts that pass their inspections with flying colors. Norimaki claims to be the only Japanese restaurant to receive the award in all of New York City, and I’m sure it’s one of the few in Midtown to ever get it as well- although, I’m only taking into account the dirty places I lunch in. (I’m sure the Cafe Metro you eat in is spotless!)
All in all, if you work near Norimaki, it’s probably one of the better cheap sushi options in the area, but if you’re in another part of Midtown, it’s not worth the extra walk. And certainly not a place for fat guys… but then again few sushi places are.
- The serve their sushi in 3 piece orders, so you can mix and match the perfect roll for yourself
- They have little cards you can fill out, and take to the register, to make ordering quicker
- The won the Golden Apple award from the Department of Health (meaning, the place is clean)
- It’s not a sit down place, but they will make your sushi to order
- The portions are pretty small (especially for the price)
- There are other take out places you could get a much bigger portion, for less money
- My shrimp tempura roll was soggy. :-(
- Did I mention the portions are too small?
Norimaki, 224 W. 35th St. (btw. 7+8th Ave.), 212-967-8177