BAI SUSHI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Bai Sushi Japanese Restaurant prides itself on being one of the first sushi restaurants in Astoria when it opened 9 years ago. While they seem commonplace now, Bai Sushi is probably the original and arguably the best. Bai is a tiny gem of a restaurant with a mere 6 tables lit by pretty paper lanterns. We were fortunate enough to meet Nestor, an Astoria resident who was Bai’s first customer back in the day. As their number one fan, he actually named many of the rolls you’ll find on the menu and still visits regularly with his lovely wife. What Bai Sushi lacks in size, it makes up for in numerous take out orders and free delivery which comprise the bulk of their business. The secret to their success lies in the ocean fresh fish used in their sushi and sashimi dishes and in the sushi chef who artfully prepares sushi, rolls, sashimi and his own fantastic creations with the hands and skill of a surgeon.
Start with a frosty Japanese beer, sake or sweet plum wine and contemplate the appetizers. We tried gyoza, delicate pastry triangles filled with pork, shrimp or vegetables that are fried until crisp and light ($4.25). Shumai are tiny parcels of steamed dumplings filled with meat and served with a savory sauce ($4.25). Deep fried tofu is golden brown and delicious, served with the chef’s special sauce. An appetizer of tempura offers three pieces of impossibly light and crunchy shrimp and vegetables for just $6.50. Miso soup, dumpling soup and tofu vegetable soup is made from scratch each day. In this heat, you might want to try their refreshing shrimp and avocado salad, crab meat salad made with sweet crab meat, or spicy tuna salad.
Raw fish dishes can be grouped into three categories: sushi and sashimi, maki hand made rolls, and Bai big rolls. All use the freshest fish available at market combined with very special sushi rice, vegetables and avocado. Starting with sushi and sashimi, you’ll get slices of fresh fish and seafood with or without rice, according to your request. If you’re watching your carbohydrates, nothing is more healthful and low in carbs than fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel, eel, shrimp, yellowtail and squid. The chef arranges these vibrant slices on a platter beautifully with wasabi and sliced fresh ginger. Make your own dipping sauce using the soy sauce on the table. Sushi and sashimi are also available in a complete dinner that includes miso soup, salad and rice for about $15.
Maki hand rolls are presented like art work, cut into 6 perfectly even pieces and placed on glass platters. My dining companion enjoyed the tofu cucumber avocado roll which was as tasty as it was beautiful. The Sunshine roll is made with salmon, avocado and mango for an explosion of flavors. The spicy chicken roll features cooked chicken breast and spicy mayo. The decadently delicious lobster roll is crafted with sweet lobster meat, cool cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo and masago, a delicate Japanese caviar, all wrapped in healthful Japanese seaweed called nori. Bai Big rolls are substantial slices of handmade rolls, such as the Spicy Crunch with spicy tuna, yellowtail, salmon, tempura and scallion topped with spicy mayo and crunchy pancko crumbs ($9.99). We also tried the Rock and Roll with shrimp tempura, crabstick, avocado and cucumber and found them to be fresh, delicious and very filling. Instead of cooking for your next party, order a party platter from Bai Sushi and wow your guests with the freshest variety around. Nothing looks more beautiful on your table and you are left to enjoy your guests.
If you prefer cooked Japanese dishes, there are plenty to choose among, such as classic teriyaki with chicken, beef, pork, salmon, shrimp or tofu. Beef negamaki is tender beef rolled around green scallions. There are economical Dinner Bento Boxes for just $14.99 that include miso soup, green salad, shrimp tempura, California roll and your choice of teriyaki. Bai Sushi also makes excellent udon. Udon are thick, buckwheat noodles that are cooked into soup with vegetables, shrimp or chicken.
Bai’s lunch specials can’t be beat, to stay, to go, or for delivery. Served Monday through Saturday from 11:30am to 3:00pm, enjoy complete lunches for about $7. Sweeten your palate with a dessert of cool, creamy ice cream. Two dainty scoops of ice cream; green tea and red bean will refresh you.
Bai Sushi Japanese Restaurant is open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner (closed Sunday). They open at 11:30am and close at 11:00pm for your takeout orders or to eat in. Take advantage of fast, free delivery too, with a $10 minimum. Arigato Bai Sushi!
BAI SUSHI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
37-03 Broadway, Astoria • 718. 956.7445