Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
I was recently invited to Wasabi Sushi and Bento, the outpost of a fast casual Japanese grab and go restaurant popular in London that opened in February in Times Square. It is always exciting to try a new place, trying to find what makes them different and stand out. For sure, Japanese cuisine is fairly popular here, between the Japanese restaurants, the non Japanese restaurants serving sushi like Rue 57 or 5 Napkin Burger, the supermarket or deli offering sushi boxes to grab. I admit that I would never order sushi in a burger joint or grab a box made who knows when from a supermarket or deli.
So let's see what Wasabi Sushi and Bento is! Before talking about food, let's talk about the place. It all started in 2003 in London, when its owner, Mr Kim, a Korean born immigrant, got the idea to offer high quality Japanese classics for takeout at reasonable prices. He now has opened 36 locations across the UK and is branching out to the US with this first location that is of a nice size, with impressive high ceilings, white walls and floors that are immaculate, the main color standing out being the green from the stools.
In the back is the open kitchen where you can observe the crew preparing some food cooked all day long, making sure that what you eat is fresh.
At Wasabi, you can pick either sushi, salads or hot food (photo below), including soups.
It is grab and go, that is nothing extraordinary, except for sushi: you can grab individual pieces rather than a sushi set, allowing you to compose your meal at a reasonable price.
So I decided to compose my dinner with a bit of everything:
I grabbed different pieces of sushi:
- hosomaki (thin rolls),
- nigiri (thinly sliced fish over rice),
- Maki (large rolls made with two or more fillings wrapped in rice and nori).
Here is some of what I tried:
Tamago Nigiri (Japanese omelet):
Crabmeat and cucumber maki:
Inari Nigiri (deep fried tofu):
Tempura Veg maki:
This was really good, each of the pieces I tried tasted fresh (they are made that day and never served the next day). Little I know that the owner, Mr Kim, is committed to serving sustainably-sourced yellowfin tuna and salmon.
The last sushi I tried was a first for me: it was the Chicken teriyaki onigiri, a triangle of rice tied in nori and flavored with chicken teriyaki.
I had to follow the instructions to unwrap it:
It was served cold and had some nori inside. Very tasty, it had a slight kick that tickled my throat.
Of course, I also had to try some hot food. First was the grilled teriyaki chicken bento box:
Chicken in a teriyaki sauce on a bed of stir-fried cabbage mix, served with rice, garnished with pickled cucumber, red ginger & sesame seeds:
If you like chicken, this is definitely to try, the meat, although smothered by teriyaki sauce was quite moist.
Next was the Chicken gyoza tanmen, a soup made with super thin rice noodles with lots of fresh vegetables in a delicious house-made broth:
It was a very good soup, made with plenty of veggies like Napa cabbage, bean sprouts, pak choi, carrot, onion or snow pea. But the star of the dish was the gyoza itself that was fantastic!
At the time we went, they did not have any more ramen, that they also serve, because they prepare their broth in advance, cooked for 8 hours, and serve it until there is no more.
Last was something sweet. I chose a Daifuku that is mochi filled with Azuki (sweetened red bean paste):
It was a delicious way to end a great discovery. Wasabi is a great way to get high quality Japanese food in the busy area that is Times Square, allowing its customers to create their own menu at very reasonable prices.
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!