Does your stomach growl at you when you drive by your favorite sushi place? Chances are your wallet growls right back once you splurge on that indulgence.
So … How do you save money on your sushi order and still manage to satisfy your stomach and your budget? The long-held secrets are now yours; use them wisely.
Look for Hidden Gems
Between fancy sushi restaurants and grocery store sushi exists just-right sushi. Every town has got that one spot where there’s a soon-to-be sushi master who aims to please those who don’t want to bust their budget. Find it and eat your fill.
Think Outside the Box
You don’t have to go to a restaurant to find legit sushi; seek a Japanese grocery store, or a swanky organic market. The average cheapie takeout roll will run you $6, and the quality also depends on the chef. Test out a vegetarian or Philadelphia roll — you can’t go wrong with cream cheese.
Remember: Good Sushi Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
The road to El Dorado isn’t paved with yellowtail. You need to locate a fancy sushi bar that won’t cost you half your rent in one sitting. Besides, a high price tag doesn’t always reflect the quality of the roll.
Pass on the Crazy Rolls
A bunch of fish in a roll has got to taste amazing, right? If you aim to pay $15 a roll, skip the aquarium of crazy roll-town and keep the combos simple.
Most sushi lovers fill up on traditional rolls that typically offer you a few veggies and no fish. Offset the expensive nigiri with these tasty sushi gems. You’ll find combinations like tempura-battered asparagus or the tasty curried asparagus roll to switch up your sushi game. You can even get veganaise to substitute for mayo in your roll, which comes as eight pieces, nestled in cooked rice.
Make Appetizers Non-Seafood
Might as well indulge in more sushi if you’re going to break your budget with appetizers. Make your appetizers non-seafood, and get edamame or a seaweed salad. Fried tofu makes for a legit and tasty appetizer choice.
Spare the Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin tuna is tasty, and swanky sushi experts without a heart will endorse it as the ultimate sushi for the palate. However, bluefin tuna is also expensive and endangered. Only 1.6 million Pacific bluefin tuna remain in the ocean, which is 3% of the original population — so save the fish and your wallet. Besides, the bluefin tuna isn’t traditional.
Leave Satiated, Not Stuffed
Do you throw back sushi like popcorn? Traditionally, you don’t stuff your gut with sushi and call it a night. You go for ramen afterward. Maybe you switch it up with Vietnamese pho or eat that juicy medium-rare cheeseburger.
Skip the Sashimi
Indulge in sashimi as a treat — but skip it when saving money. Savor the nigiri to get more for your money and still appreciate quality.
Fill Yourself With Tamago
Need more padding for your stomach? Try this traditional dessert: eat egg-topped nigiri at the end of your meal for uber-authenticity points and palate-delight, or make your own with patience and a rectangular pan. Tamango rolls are also known as Japanese omelets.
Forsake the Sake
Sake, a rice-based drink, is never paired with sushi traditionally, so don’t feel guilty about skipping the expensive bottle. Grab your favorite beer with your sushi, which will also help you fill up.
Know Thy Chef
Your chef will respect you more if you ask for tips about what to try when on a budget, and you’ll get more variety. Be personable and get to know your chef. You’ll save money and may get slipped the odd freebie sample.
You can be a cheapskate and still have quality, because expensive doesn’t always signal the best. Go sleuthing to find the best in that little go-to backwater sushi joint, which may surprise you in the form of swanky grocery store sushi.
Photo Credit: LW Yang