I was uber excited to hear about Sushi Shop opening. This sleek and modern French import planted itself onto Madison Avenue a few short weeks ago. Well known throughout France, this fast food sushi chain boasts over 90 stores in Europe. With an extensive menu accompanied by mouthwatering glamour shots of fresh fish, this place had me more than intrigued; it had me anxiously awaiting its opening. So, with high expectations, and an empty stomach, I made my first, and last, trip to Sushi Shop.
Let’s see, how can I explain the disappointment that is Sushi Shop? I got it. Have you ever gotten a gift, wrapped so beautifully, that you were expecting something spectacular, and I mean really freaking awesome? But, then when you opened it, you realized it was just kind of average, like an ill-fitting cotton t-shirt. Well, that’s kind of like what Sushi Shop was for me. A present wrapped so beautifully I was expecting magic. Those damn glamour shots.
It wasn’t my high expectations that had me disappointed though. Even if I hadn’t read about this place weeks ago, studied the menu intensively, and drooled over the pictures, I would have been less than thrilled with lunch. The sushi was average at best. I sampled much of the menu, from the pre-packaged platters to the a la carte pieces. Yes, I did just say pre-packaged sushi. But it’s more complicated than you think. During the day, Sushi Shop is a self-serve restaurant. Okay, okay, the more I think about it, I’m beginning to question my original excitement too. You can choose from pre-packaged platters, supposedly made moments before you arrive or you can order a la carte, which is made on the spot and brought to your table. The good thing about the pre-packaged platters: they come with sides and you get your food immediately. The bad thing: they totally lose their appeal of fresh sushi. It might be the freshest sushi in the world, but put it in a paper box with wasabi in ketchup packets, and you lose me too.
One of the rolls I was most excited for was the Foie Gras; I know, I know, another obvious lapse in judgment. The foie gross was rolled in preserves, then seaweed and rice, and then nuts for crunch. It was exactly what I would imagine the love child of peanut butter and jelly and sushi to taste like, minus the love. Not only were the flavors were in disagreeable contrast, the pieces were too large. Halfway through one piece I almost lost my lunch. If you decide to ignore this warning and try the foie gras sushi, do not, and I repeat, do not, use the soy sauce. Seriously, don’t.
The a la carte pieces made a better impression. The spicy scallop roll was petite. And sure it was good. But was it great? No, no it was not.
I also order the TNT roll, which was a combination of tuna, cucumbers and other tired sushi ingredients. Another average roll. Last, and definitely least of the a la carte sushi, was the tuna on crispy rice. If you have ever eaten this dish at a good restaurant, like Nobu or Koi, you know that the rice is supposed to be warm and actually crunchy, as opposed to room temperature and slightly tough.
The side dish was noteworthy, I guess. Carrot, orange and cilantro salad. Yes, this is as boring as it sounds. Oh the poor person who had to peel all those damn carrots. Note to self – never serve carrot salad.
The entire experience wasn’t a bust though. The service was truly fantastic. From the faux-hostess who greets you upon arrival to the bussers, each and every person wants you to enjoy your experience dining at the Sushi Shop, and you feel that. Unfortunately, service isn’t enough to impress this Bite-Sized Blonde.
And so another one bites the dust…
536 Madison Avenue
New York, NY