I'm going for quick sushi lunch today - Wasabi Sushi & Bento, a new Grab'n'Go spot at the 7th Avenue/West 40th Str. junction. And it was quite unlike what the online comments offered - in a rather pleasant way.
Similar to the said bread-n-soup joint, Wasabi Sushi & Bento let you wander about, pick your things, soy sauce, paper plate and whatever. Once you're done, you'd go to one of the counters and get your bill. Maybe a bit more Kikkoman and the girl's number while you're at it!
Unlike the online reviews, the Wasabi that I went to today has nothing to do with the UK at all (that I can tell), apart from the rather obscure URL with a .uk on the chopsticks cover. Excellent chopsticks by the way - broke off cleanly and surprisingly smooth.
...yum value sushi...
If you are just here for the fish, try the sushi sets and save yourself a buck or two. The box is ingenious, serves as a tray with opening for soy sauce, ginger and everything and is very take-away-ish. As you might have imagined, however, the choices for both the sets and the sushi inside is limited, but it does make for quick choices and a meager savings. These run from around 7 to 13$, and is filling enough. The dolphins would probably be saving their salutes for whoever did the serving sizing here.
The bentos and noodles are slightly better deals, very filling but a tad bit cumbersome. There are about 4 types of each, all on the left of the counters, and don't quite garner the attention that the sushi does. At 20% less than the top tier sushi sets though, running at 7 to 9$, they still sell like hot cakes (or hot bentos). The choices includes chicken teriyaki, grilled version of said chicken, beef version, and stir-fried yakisoba. All of them taste rather dry, but the bentos are packed with black-bean rice, which makes for an interesting combo.
...and the experience.
The packaging is confusing for me until I found the sticker on the bottom "lid". Opens up and you'll find some instructions on sushi etiquette, your sushi (well obviously), and two tiny bowls made into the box to aid with the ginger + soy sauce + wasabi placement business. I asked for more soy sauce (4 packets of Kikkoman sauce, which is double the default serving), and it still didn't fill the soy sauce bowl to the halfway-up mark. Must be made for the soy-tub chaps that prefers dunking the whole sushi down for a soy bath, or worse, a soy drown murder. Never quite like that style myself, as too much soy sauce kills the delicate taste of the lighter fishes on sushi, but hey, Wasabi bento-engineers know to cater to even the less agreeable of palettes. Which is good I guess. The bad that you get is very nice too! It's the semi-opaque thick type, not the wrinkle-lover types at Target or Duane Reade.
The fish taste good, and the sushi's softness and sourness hits the spot, but the caviar is a bit too much on the cheap side. I doubt people will notice because even then there's not that much caviar to work with, being sprinkled on like the sesame on onigiris. The build of some of the wraps are also not as good as you'd expect, with the rice not being as tight as it could have been, but it can be passed as a fault of rushing. After all, despite the clean, minimalist Bauhaus architecture and the spacious venue, the place is packed at lunch time. Loose sushi and a lack of caviar could have been displaced with worse problems.
Of note, it is usually faster to walk than to wait for the tube, but renting a CitiBike can net you some extra whoosh towards the venue if you would like to pick one up outside Penn Station.