Housekeeping Note: This is the first in a series about my perennial-favorite New York eats.
I’m not sure what I did before Ki Sushi.
I have vague recollections of spending way too much money at Haru for fish that wasn’t nearly as tasty, of stopping in at Yama for good rolls but slab-like sashimi, and, when I lived in Park Slope, of ordering mediocre takeout from Kiku, just to get a quick fix. The really good places have always been out of my price range, but I tried everything else—Manhattan hole-in-the-wall spots, the fancier joints aimed at the Midtown business luncher—and nothing before or since has measured up to Ki.
For the Sunday-night takeout spread pictured above, I opted for the Pikachu roll (directly above; $13): impeccably fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail, nestled with lightly fried shrimp tempura and melt-in-your-mouth avocado and wrapped in marbled seaweed; and the Volcano roll (below; $14): chunks of sea scallop mixed with a spicy, crunchy sauce and paired with that same avocado, then topped with a thin layer of sweet shrimp and the juicy pop of yuzu tobiko.
Another solid choice is the Fantastic roll (below; $12), which gussies up classic crunchy, spicy tuna with slices of salmon, yellowtail, and avocado, as well as a healthy sprinkle of jalapeño-flavored tobiko.
I also love the new(ish) TNT Lover roll (below; $14): chopped toro with tempura flakes and asparagus, topped with tuna and crunchy garlic flakes and drizzled with a decadent truffle-soy sauce. It’s a little bit of gilding the lily, in the most delicious way.
The appetizers are solid: the gyoza and shumai are fairly standard, as is the seaweed salad, but where Ki truly excels is at its renditions of now-classic Japanese-fusion plates, such as a version of the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño and yuzu-soy sauce ($12) made famous at Nobu back in the day.
Oh, and the lunch special isn’t half-bad either. The sashimi bento box ($13) is extremely generous: It comes with a full-sized miso soup and salad, two shumai, eight pieces of fish, a pile of rice and a California roll. I can’t stand that fake crab stuff, so I usually cough up an extra buck or two and sub in a different type of roll.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit how often I stop in or order carry-out from Ki, so I’m not going to; trust me, though, it’s pretty frequently. I will say that I haven’t had a bad meal yet, and that I always feel like I’ve spent my money well.
That’s the key. There aren’t many restaurants I’d describe that way, but there are a few more that I’ll be sharing with you, so stay tuned.
122 Smith Street