“UNDISCLOSED SUSHI PLACE”
So there is this sushi place in town that is in a really awkward place, and the parking is even more awkward. My friends love this place, so I am not going to give out their name and location as I normally would. I never wish to hurt any business, especially local, but some of these places do themselves in without any help from me, and here is one example.
This place never looked busy, and you can tell its really small from the outside. Its in a shared building, and any place offering sushi for half price has to make you wonder. I would have never walked in there, but again my friends swore by it and knew all the previous managers and sushi chefs.
So its a rainy afternoon around lunch time, maybe it was a Monday or Tuesday. I managed to get one of the 2 or 3 parking spaces designated for this place, otherwise signs indicated I might be towed. So, I walk in and find a place at the counter. The sushi chef looks American. No problem, I’d rather have a 25-year-old sushi guy with 10 years experience than just some random Asian who hasn’t being doing it even 5 years. Why do I even mention this? Because its the attitude. Anytime I’ve ever walked into any Asian restaurant, they have been very polite and very gracious. Being Italian and having been to many ethnic restaurants, I cannot say the same for Italians, French, Continental, etc. But Asians and Asian Indians are always especially polite, in my experience.
So this guy looks and nods to me and says (or asks) “w’sup”? I said hello and he replies with “you know what you want”? For a split second I asked myself if I was in a diner, and not knowing the lunch specials or what they include, I asked if they had a menu. He points and says its right there in front of me. I felt stupid for half a second before realizing its the folded paper takeout menu in a plastic holder. “Ok” I said to myself and to him aloud. I pick it up, unfold it and try to find the lunch specials. Now let me tell you, there is nothing more attractive to a hungry diner than a a folded paper menu stained with soy sauce and whatever else.
While looking over the lunch specials that start at $7 he asks me if I want anything to drink. I thought some hot tea would be a good start, and didn’t bother to ask if there was a charge for it. Most places offer it free anyway. So I decide that the lunch special I wanted was the $7 for 2 rolls. $8 would have gotten me one roll and some sushi, and $9 a Bento box. I was hungry but usually do not like to eat heavy at lunch. I asked for a California Roll and a Crab Tempura Roll. The selections were confusing on the menu, it just listed a dozen ingredients but no indication of what was connected with which roll. Perhaps another reason they should print a full size menu, even if its just a 8.5 x 11″ printout from the computer, and put it at the place setting so someone does not have to ask for a menu and look foolish when its there with the takeout menus.
My tea comes and I place my order. I am waiting for my Miso soup, but it never came. Most places include a small salad as well with the lunch special, so waiting a few minutes I decided to check into FourSquare. And, I am glad I did. Since it was my first visit, it unlocked a special, “Free Roll with any Purchase” very cool. I show the guy and he says “oh ok, what would you like”? Trying to make it easy on him (not knowing what he has most of that he wants to get rid of, what is easiest, or what is fastest) I just say “I like anything, any roll you make is fine” and he tells me “no, please don’t do that to me, I don’t know what you like” and I tell him again, that I like everything, and he insists I choose something. So, I pick the shrimp tempura roll.
So, my first 2 rolls come. I recognize the California roll toward the bottom of the plate, and I like the black sesame seeds he sprinkled on top, but what is that roll at the top? And, is there a wasabi shortage? I like it painfully hot, and its not real wasabi anyway, so why skimp? I also have to note that the soy sauce is in a clear generic bottle, not a name brand or in a ceramic vessel as it usually is. Well, its not the California roll, so it must be the crab tempura roll. Except, its not crab, its imitation “crab legs” and isn’t tempura supposed to be battered and fried? Basically what you are looking at is an imitation crab leg surrounded in rice, nothing else. I don’t need to be over-critical here, but if I were a sushi chef, and I know I’m not, but if I were, I would want that last end of the roll on the right to be a bit more even so one end didn’t have imitation crab hanging out on one, and nothing on the other end. ‘Jus sayin’. Even the avocado looked weak and slim.
Ok, so the next roll, which I got free, was actually the winner. The shrimp was actually tempura. The guy even said “sorry for the wait, they are waiting until the shrimp is hot”. I thought, well, are they frying it or reheating it in the microwave (which I have seen by the way), turns out the rice was hot and it came from the kitchen. Did they reheat this in a kitchen microwave? I don’t know but it was tasty, actually the best of all 3, the sauce dominated it (as you can see) but it did taste good.
So, the meal has ended, he asks if I would like the check and I confirm. He does not hand the check to me, he just rings it up and says it’s $8.50 (I don’t remember, but let’s use that number, it could have been $9.25 or $9.65). Since he is holding the receipt but not showing me, I ask “was there a charge for the tea”? He says yes. “I said, ok, but I never got the soup, so can you adjust the bill”? He says “I can take a dollar off”. That was fine, if not, I was going to take it in a container to go. So now the bill is $8 and change. I hand him a $10 and wish him a good day.
Yes, it was more than a 15% tip, if you counted the “free” roll, maybe it would have only been less than 15%, but either way, it was more than what him or the staff deserved. No menu, no tea, no soup, no salad, no parking, no gracious service, and items mislabeled/prepared according to the takeout menu. What do I expect for $10? Not much, except what is promised in large bold type in the window, on the menu, and what is offered at every other sushi place offering specials within 5 miles. I am not critical, am just over-critical of false advertising and the pre-conceived notion that the customer is an idiot. Now, if I were to return here again, then yes, I am an idiot and I should expect the very same service if not worse.
The end 🙂