Archive for 'Sushi'

Countdown to Price Increase: When the Old Take Out Menus Run Out, the Prices Will Go Up

At the end of my Monday piece on Aoki, the sushi restaurant on 48th btw. B’way+8th with the 3 roll lunch special for $10, I predicted they would raise their prices soon. I didn’t think 24 hours soon. From a commenter yesterday:

ZACH, get this. i went to Aoki today for the first time and all the menu prices were whited-out… it’s now two rolls for $9, three rolls for $11 (and for the record, I got two rolls and they charged me $9.50) … seems my honeymoon’s over before it even began. :(

My initial thought was, “Shit, I’ve ruined it for everybody.” My second thought was “Shit, my co-workers who told me about this place, and convinced me to write about it, are going to kill me.” My goal is to help people find good, cheap lunch, not to hurt them by unearthing deals that are too good to be true, only to have them yanked as a result of the exposure (Del Frisco’s, I’m looking at you). I would have become really depressed if it wasn’t for the little part of me that was proudly surprised that the stupid site I started almost two years ago as an excuse to eat gross food for lunch, was now having a marked effect on the way Midtown restaurants do business.

Thankfully, it turns out I had nothing to do with the price increase- which went into effect a few weeks ago, and only effects the lunchtime combo if you eat in the restaurant. The take out price is still $8 for two rolls, $10 for 3 rolls, although the lady I spoke to at Aoki did imply that the take out/delivery price would probably have gone up as well, but they had all these take out menus printed with the old price. So, like I said on Monday, enjoy the deal while you can, and whatever you do- don’t take a menu. We need those things to last as long as they possibly can…

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… Read more »

Sakae Sushi is Betting That You Care More About Fun Than Value

******************THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED***********************

What kind of price do you put on having a fun meal?  It’s not a new question.  For example, are you willing to pay $50 to eat mediocre roast chicken with your hands?  That doesn’t sound like a good deal.  What if there are grown men jousting in the middle of the restaurant?  Hello!  Or perhaps you’d like some chicken and steak stir fry for $30?  I can get that for $7 at any food court.  What if a “Japanese” guy named “Jimmy” prepares and cooks the food right in front of you, throwing the shrimp tails into his giant chef’s hat?  Now that sound likes fun!

In the end Sakae Sushi is no different then Medieval Times or Benihana.  They’re asking how much extra are you willing to pay for sushi when it moves around the restaurant on little colored plates.  Not enough fun?  Let’s throw in computerized ordering!  This sounds awesome.  I love conveyor belt sushi!  And, I also love weird rolls.  And mayo.  And I don’t have to know what I’m eating to eat it.  And that’s what Sakae is all about.  If you like crazy rolls that pair fried stuff with cooked stuff, topped with raw stuff and smothered in some mayo based sauce, then you’re golden.

Loves conveyor belt.  Check.  Loves weird rolls.  Check.  Loves fun.  Check.  I should have loved Sakae Sushi.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way.  All the reasons why, after the jump… Read more »

Qdoba To Add 3rd Midtown Location, Sakae & Five Guys Popping Up Elsewhere


According to their website, a 3rd Midtown Qdoba (on 46th btw. Madison & 5th), is coming soon.  I tried the newest one on 53rd St. & 3rd Ave., and I have to say I don’t find it to be that much different then Chipotle (or, as the kids say- “meh”.)  The selection at Qdoba is a little larger, so the chances of finding that one thing you can tolerate is greater- but I ain’t willing to put in that kind of time.  So, if you’re sick of Chipotle, and looking for something new, you’ll probably enjoy Qdoba.  If you hate Chipotle, and are hoping for that burrito savior, I’m guessing this probably won’t be it.  (The Baja Fresh vigil continues…)

While Chipotle expands its Midtown holdings, other Midtown Lunch favorites are branching out.  Five Guys & Sakae news, after the jump… Read more »

You Decide: Good Portions on Lex

Restaurants or take out places that serve multiple kinds of ethnic cuisine are always a red flag for me.  Why serve mediocre food from four different countries, when you can serve great food from the country you are from?  Asian places are the worst offenders too.  Thai on the menu at Chinese and Japanese restaurants, Vietnamese food at Thai restaurants, Chinese food on the menu at Korean places, and sushi just about everywhere.

But in the end I am forced to relent.  I think it’s a combination of my love of (and addiction to) all Asian foods, plus that little voice in my head that says, ‘maybe just this once, Pad Thai made in the same wok as beef and broccoli will magically come out right’.  (It hasn’t yet.)  It was this addiction that brought me to Good Portions, a fast food Asian place on Lexington btw. 39+40th.

What I got, and why I need your help (the “you decide” part), after the jump… Read more »

Openings, Closings & More Closings (ahem, I mean “renovations”)

It’s the beginning of the new year, which traditionally means a lot of change in the eating landscape.  Leases run out, new places move in, and many use it as a time for “holiday cleaning”.  First the openings…

Yummy Sushi in Rockefeller Center has opened a second location in the Food Court at the bottom of the building on 3rd Ave. & 53rd St.  It joins Fusion Grills, Gourmet 53 and of course- the piano player!  I believe it replaced a different sushi place, owned by the same people who own Menchanko-Tei.

In the soon to be opening category…

Ignore the construction, the “food court” in the basement of the building on 3rd Ave. btw. 49+50th is still open- and the new sign confirms the rumor we mentioned a few weeks agoPamapano Taqueria & Pump Energy will be getting a new neighbor soon.  Clearly not deterred by the defections of two of their prime Midtown locations, a new Sophie’s Cuban will be opening soon.  The fliers on the storefront make mention of a “Grand Opening Celebration”, which can only mean one thing.  Free food day!  Once a date is firmed up, I’ll let you know.

Closings, plus closings masquerading as “renovations”, after the jump… Read more »

First Look: Sakae Sushi’s Conveyor Belt, Computers & The Full Menu

Have you figured out yet that I’m excited for conveyor belt sushi from Singapore?  It’s not open yet, but after much begging, they finally let me into Sakae Sushi (43rd btw. Lex+3rd) last night for a first look at the conveyor belt and computer system (which they’ve been putting together all week). 

The belt itself, which snakes in a u shape around the entire restaurant, carrying little small plates of sushi to every table, doesn’t actually go back into the kitchen- where all the food is prepared.  There are no sushi bars either.  All the food is made in the back, and brought out by servers to be placed on the conveyor belt.

For those “crazy” people, who don’t want to eat sushi off a conveyor belt, there is a mouse operated computer at each table you can use to order anything off of the menu.  This not only includes freshly made small plates of sushi, but larger things that don’t fit on the conveyor belt as well.

A look at the complete menu after the jump, plus an update on their “Friday” Grand Opening… Read more »

Sakae Sushi Still Not Open… Despite What You Might Read Elsewhere

It looks like we are just days away from the opening of Singaporean conveyor belt sushi chain Sakae Sushi on 43rd St. btw. Lex+3rd.  Already enormously popular in Asia, this will be their first location in the USA, complete with signature computerized ordering and hot water spouts (for refilling tea) at every table, plus the main event… little plates of sushi ushered from seat to seat via conveyor belt.   

Two emails were sent out today about the place, with both Urbandaddy giving the impression that the place is already open (it’s not), while and Thrillist are reporting a Friday grand opening (albeit without hot water spouts, which they report will be installed in the next month).  (Urbandaddy did make a fleeting mention of the Friday opening, so I’ve modified the post to reflect that.  I just didn’t notice it when I read their email.) The photo above was taken at Sakae Sushi today at 2pm, and our sources are saying they *hope* to be open on Friday, but if not Friday- then ”probably” Monday.  With the way red tape works in NYC, I’ll believe it when I see the conveyor belts fired up, and moving little plates of raw fish.  Either way, as soon as I know, you’ll know…

Do you want Red Snapper, or what’s in the Box???

Everybody knows how expensive Red Snapper is, and with good reason. Whether being used by seminal rock bands to pleasure groupies, spun on wheels of fish by Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles, or eaten at sushi restaurants, it is a very versatile, and delicious fish. Well, apparently some Midtown sushi restaurants are serving tilapia, and calling it Red Snapper. Inside Edition has the story

Some flat out refute the claim, some claim ignorance, and one lady just clearly doesn’t know how to read a package. Of course, even if the plastic package she brought out said “Red Snapper”, I still don’t think I would want to eat it.

A list of uncovered Midtown East sushi restaurants pulling the tilapia switcheroo, after the jump… Read more »

Is Good Cheap Sushi a Paradox? The brand new Naruto Sushi doesn’t think so…

Ever since the news hit that the Malaysian chain Sakae was bringing conveyor belt sushi to Midtown, I’ve been in the mood for raw fish.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Kikku, a sit down place on 55th btw. 5+6th that is considered one of the best cheap sushi options in Midtown, and of course there was my trip to Mitsuwa in New Jersey this past weekend.  But the quest for good, but cheap sushi in Midtown continues. 

Logic (and basic economics) tells me that it’s impossible to find good and fresh raw fish, in a 100% takeout setting- that doesn’t cost over $10.  But I refuse to give up.  Kikku and Taki have established themselves as decent and cheap sit down sushi meals, but I want sushi you can grab and go.  Right now that kind of lunch is dominated by Midtown Delis, the last place I want to be eating raw fish from.  Enter Naruto Sushi, a brand new exclusively take out place on 49th btw. Madison and 5th that is hoping to be the solution to my cheap sushi problem.

Why it is, and why it isn’t as part of a gigantic +/- with photos, after the jump… Read more »