Say “Let’s go out for sushi” and watch your friends blanch.
The delicate art of sushi, despite its widespread appeal and accessibility, it can still be daunting for the pocketbook. We got you.
Here are six ways to get the good stuff, without even having to check your balance first:
Go glam at a discount at Origami
Long considered the gold standard in Twin Cities sushi, Origami can sometimes feel a little intimidating or pricey. But not at their eye-popping happy hour, offered every night of the week (even weekends!) from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and all day Sunday. The best thing about these deals is that they don’t restrict the offers to the cheapest, most pedestrian menu selections. Quite the contrary: There’s a menu section for the usual selection of crowd faves like spicy tuna and yellowtail rolls, but also premium sashimi for about $2 a slice. Also find sea-salted jellyfish or manila clams for $5.
There’s even an “adventure points” selection where you can boldly try things like cured squid or raw octopus. You’re only out a few bucks if you don’t like it, but the real value is discovering you do.
Look to the drinks menu for great deals on cold and hot sake, Sapporo, Japanese Sochu and lots more.
354 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis
Non-intimidating omakase at Masu
Potentially the most interesting and satisfying way to eat sushi is to plunk down and order “omakase,” meaning chef’s choice. It’s also one of the most nerve-racking, because you don’t know how high the bill is gonna be until the party’s over.
The best sushi chefs can gauge what kind of an experience you’re after, and he’ll know you really mean business if you buy him a beer and put a $20 tip on the counter. But that’s for a different day. Today we’re trying to save you money, and here’s a best-kept secret to keep in mind.
Masu has omakase priced at just $21 (parties of two or more only, please) where you’ll get chef’s choice of two nigiri, one hand roll, three pieces of hosomaki (thin roll) and six pieces of futomaki (fat roll). It’s a great way to eat in a celebratory way without silently tallying up your bill throughout the entire meal.
Pro tip: Masu brings in special "off the menu" fish each week. You need to ask about it, or order an omakase to get a shot at one of these secret specials. But for those reading this, here's a scoop: They’re bringing in live soft shell crab for roll specials throughout the month of May.
330 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Go lowbrow at Kyoto
Some people will call me out for this one, but I don’t care.
Kyoto has its place in the inexpensive sushi eating canon and all you have to do is check out the regular throngs of crowds for proof. Strip mall sushi places like Kyoto pump out economical sushi faves with factory-like speed. No, it isn’t the highest quality stuff, but that is hardly the point.
Kyoto comes in especially handy if you’ve got kids in tow who are toying with the idea of sushi but don’t want anything too challenging. All of the most pedestrian stuff is here, including over 40 rolls, plus sashimi, sushi, and a bunch of hot and cold appetizers-- even tempura and Teppanyaki.
For $24.99 (or $15.99 at lunch) they’ll just keep bringing you stuff until you ask them to bring you stuff no more. Sound gluttonous? It is. Which is precisely the point.
2100 Snelling Ave., St. Paul
It’s always the happiest hour at Pink U
Consistently our top pick for great sushi at a great price (and this year’s Best of the Twin Cities choice for Best Sushi) PinkU has turned local sushi culture on its head.
For starters, the fast-casual counter-service means super fast delivery and dining, making it a perfect lunch or pre-show meal. You’ll easily be in and out within 30 minutes. But that fact doesn’t make the place any less warm, and it fits the bill for a special occasion, too.
But possibly the best thing recommending it is the value. Check out the wall-hanging menu (itself a beautiful work of art) for all-day and all-night prices that fall in the surprising $5 to $8 range. This strategy allows you to pick and choose your favorite things, like lightly seared tuna or salmon on crispy rice cake or salmon fat rolls.
20 University Avenue NE, Minneapolis
Sushi in the sky at One, Two, Three Sushi
A clamshell of grab-and-go sushi can truly be a gamble. Some are better than others, and when you draw the short end of the stick, there goes your appetizing lunch.
Go a rung up the fast food sushi ladder by grabbing One, Two, Three Sushi, a surprisingly appealing have-it-your-way lunch place with five skyway locations.
You know the drill: pick your rice, pick your protein, pick your fillings and sauces, and they’ll roll it before your eyes in seconds.
Everything on the menu is under ten bucks, with custom rolls hefty enough for a solid lunch at $8.99.
Bowl it up at Dong Hae
One of my favorite summertime eating treats is a big, beautiful bowl of chirashi. Instead of getting your sashimi rolled, assorted colorful sashimi is draped over a bowl of sticky rice and garnished with radish sprouts, wasabi, roe, and whatever else the chef is feeling that day.
A huge bowl of easily shareable chirashi is $16 at Dong Hae, the huge, surprisingly great Korean/sushi fusion spot at the edge of the North Loop.
251 N 1st Ave., Minneapolis
Bowl it up solo at Kyatchi
Don’t have a companion? Head over for chirashi at Kyatchi. A big bowl of sushi rice, sashimi, and an array of colorful accoutrements (ginger, wasabi, pickled veggies, avocado, roe, and more) goes for just $10 at happy hour. And that happy hour happens twice a day, every day, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.
3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis