In the bustling crowd of downtown cuisine, one of the best and most ubiquitous options is sushi. Although all of New York’s Japanese places could never match the dizzying number of Chinese restaurants, there are sushi spots all over the city, and in certain areas, like around St. Mark’s, they are almost as densely packed as Chinese places are everywhere, which is ideal for the young and cash-strapped, in search of student savings, since competition (as any econ major could tell you) drives prices down. It also offers you, the customer, a choice of about a dozen different sushi joints on the three blocks of St. Mark’s Place.
Everyone loves sushi: it’s prepared quickly, fun to order, fun to eat, and can be affordable on almost any budget. Restauranteurs can dream up all kinds of mind-blowing decoration and ambiance, but there’s really nothing like walking into a sushi place (any sushi place) and seeing a grim-faced chef roll up and chop up sushi rolls at lightning, finger-endangering speed. It’s the Japanese food equivalent of watching a fat Italian man spin pizza dough in the air, but it’s way better, since there’s very sharp knives involved. How could anyone manage not to enjoy such appealing food? I know that some people have a problem with the whole raw-fish-and-seaweed side of sushi, but I’d say that anyone over age twelve that can’t get past a little seaweed is making a grave mistake by missing out.
With so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which sushi spot to go to. Here are a few of the St. Mark’s sushi stops:
—Yoshi Sushi is located at the east end of St. Mark’s, right across from Tompkins Sq. Park, and is a great option for their student discounts. It’s a smallish place, but they have great deals (like a big bento box for $5.95) and a great location, and they deliver! But most importantly, the sushi is high-quality. I’m not an expert, but I know that their BBQ beef mango roll is both original and delicious.
—Kenka, right on the busiest block of St. Mark’s, between Second and Third Ave, offers a ton of menu choices in addition to sushi, including some more unusual options, like tongue, liver, and other animal parts that are generally not found on sushi menus. They have so many dishes that the menu is huge and heavy in your hands, and can provide more than a little light reading. The place’s popularity might actually make it a little less enticing: there’s usually a wait, it’s very loud inside, and it’s not that cheap, as far as sushi spots go. But the food is great, and pitchers of Japanese beer are only eight dollars. If you can handle the wait and the noise, Kenka’s definitely worth it—and you get free cotton candy after your meal!
— May’s Ku E Ban is on Second Ave, right next to Pommes Frites, and could be indispensable to a sushi-loving student. When you really need a roll or two, but you really can’t afford to spend much on it, May’s is there for you: they have an amazing deal, available all the time, that offers half price on sushi as long as you spend over eight dollars. I don’t think I need to emphasize how awesome this deal is. There aren’t many places at all where you can get a ton of good sushi for the price of all of the change lying around your room. May’s doesn’t have the cool atmosphere of Kenka, or the innovative dishes of Yoshi, but it does have an ample supply of cheap sushi.
So the next time you’re trying to decide from the billions of food choices downtown, and feel like a little sushi, take a stroll down St. Mark’s, and find one of these places between the bars, thrift stores, and head shops that fill out the street. Or try one of the sushi places that I’ve never tried before. Whatever kind of sushi spot you prefer, there’s probably one to be found. Comment, and tell us about the other sushi places in the area!
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