Affordable Sushi? Is it Possible?

My apologies for the lack of posts these last few days. I’ve been on a steady diet of Mucinex, Dayquil and cough drops for the past week. I thought I’d post a little restaurant review for my Fordham readers. My apologies for the lack of pictures but I was just too distracted by the great food! Even if you don’t live near Fordham, stay with me as there are some tips at the end!  Last Wednesday my friend Joanna and I went to our favorite Sushi place: Sake II and here is what happened!

Perhaps it’s the friendly waitress, quick service or addictive salmon crunch rolls, whatever it is, I simply cannot quit Sake II located in the Belmont section of the Bronx. On 187th and Belmont, the unassuming BYOB Sake II is an anomaly in a neighborhood famous for their Italian fare.  Serving sushi and Japanese food, the restaurant is THE place to find good-quality sushi that will please even the most modest of budgets. The service is friendly and fast, the food is great and the price, even better. Our last bill came to a whopping $19.92 for two drinks, an appetizer and four rolls.

A hole-in-the-wall is a reach when describing the size of Sake II. I am not going to lie to you, it is tight. With two tables and two counters, the restaurant can seat no more than sixteen at a time. However, it seems Sake II does a much larger takeout business so securing a table is never a problem. The decor and ambiance resembles that of a typical Asian takeout joint, complete with small figurines, flourescent lighting, bamboo plants and lanterns. A strange mix of late-nineties pop music plays quietly in the background, often prompting heated discussions regarding one of life’s greatest mysteries: Who was the greatest  boy band of all time?

What Sake II lacks in decor and ambiance, it makes up in its food and service. We were greeted by the friendly waitress. Seated immediately, she offered us the discount student menu and inquired if I was having the milk bubble tea, and my friend Joanna, a soda, as per usual. As for my bubble tea it was sweet, yet not overpowering, and the tapioca beads chewy and not mushy as can happen sometimes with bubble tea. The edamame we ordered came quickly, fresh and well-seasoned with sea salt. The sushi followed a bit too soon after, as we were barely halfway through the edamame. However, the sushi itself made up for the service blunder. Both Joanna and I had the popular sweet potato tempura roll. The sweet potato itself was cooked well, and the brown sauce topping added a complimenting salty-sweet flavor.  My other roll, the salmon crunch roll was heaven.  And although I cannot prove it, I believe the waitress gave special instructions to the sushi chef to plate my rolls in an alternating fashion. I always alternate my rolls and this was the first time they have been plated in that way. Joanna’s rolls were plated in the normal fashion, as roll clusters. Joanna also sampled the cucumber avocado roll. Although it was nothing special, you cannot beat the $2.95 price tag. The rolls come in six large pieces, and two is more than enough to satisfy an empty stomach. Throughout the meal the waitress was attentive and the bill, when requested came promptly without a wait.

Although Sake II may not be a fashionable sushi bar, its service, price and food, will definitely keep me coming back for more.

Budget-Friendly Restaurant Tips:

-Use sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to grab great  restaurant deals! Often they have restaurant gift certificates for over 50% off! Just read the fine print. Some certificates you can only use on weekends, there may be an automatic gratuity or alcohol is not included in the price.

-Before you go out, do some research. Yelp is a great resource to find great, cheap eats. However, don’t just trust the highest rated restaurant. Filter your results through most rated. A four star restaurant on Yelp with 160 reviews is probably better than the five star rated with only 3 reviews.

-INCLUDE TIP AND TAX IN YOUR BUDGET! That way you know how much you can ACTUALLY spend on your food selections.

-Look for places that offer a student discount. Even if it is 10% it is better than nothing!

-Also be on the hunt for lunch/dinner specials and Prix Fix menus. Often they include a drink, appetizer and main course. This is also a great way to try higher end restaurants without needing to find a second job.

-Go out for lunch! Like I said, oftentimes restaurants offer lunch specials and menus that are significantly cheaper than their dinner offerings.

-Go BYOB. Alcohol can destroy your dinner budget, so bring your own! Look on Yelp for BYOB’s. Also, call ahead and ask if there is a corking fee. Sometimes restaurants charge upwards of $15, it’s a complete rip off so if it is there, just save the booze for a nightcap when you get back.

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3 comments on “Affordable Sushi? Is it Possible?

  1. Nick says:

    Have you tried Sushi Mike’s in Dobb’s Ferry? Great place. Also, one of my favorite places in Manhattan is Citrus, which has great sushi — but they’re a bit pricey. Their drinks are excellent though. Maybe it’s a budget breaker, but a good place for a special occasion.

  2. Nick says:

    Citrus is on Amsterdam Avenue (West Side of Manhattan) in the 70s.

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