Sitting at the sushi bar at Momotaro, I was knocking back a 22oz can of Saporo, when my coworker walked in. A total surprise. She’d heard from my post about cheap eats that Momotaro was my new favorite in Carytown. It was only my second visit, but I was ready to for more of Momotaro’s fantastic flavors. Slowly, the place went from empty to packed, as three tables arrived, one with six or seven diners (yeah, it’s a small seating area). With the help of my belly full of beer, I ordered four maki rolls and a ginger side salad. For the next 10 minutes, I watched the chefs hard at work, while I proceeded to act out the unwise suggestions of my silver can of Saporo. There were several children in the place. I think some of them were accosted by me. You see, they have these little chopstick and rubber band creations that make it a cinch to work the sticks American-o style.
When I’d gotten home from work, Karen sent me out to bring home some food. I suggested we patronize Momotaro again. Mmmmmmmm, was her response. This time around, I ordered a King’s roll and a Queen’s roll and two rolls we’d had before; the Momotaro and the Spicy Yellowtail roll. When I hopped off my stool, it wasn’t because the food was ready. I just knew I couldn’t have any more drinks. (for those unconcerned with price and just want a food review, go to the last couple paragraphs were I tell you how orgasmic the food was – it was really fantastic).
Justin, the Momotaro spokesman, rang me up. When the place was empty I had talked myself out of presenting my student ID for my 10% off. This place deserved some love, since I don’t think most of my readers have spread the word about Momotaro. He presented the bill and it was… Okay. I had one of those low-class customer moments where my jaw probably dropped a little when he said the total and then I struggled to make sense of the bill. I leaned in to look at the total and the breakdown and my slightly sloshed brain tried to figure out how point A got to point B. Of course, after picturing the growing pile of bills on my mail table, I nodded and handed over my card. Here’s what I saw on that little slip of paper:
(first, understand that it is probably common knowledge that sushi is expensive by definition. obviously, just because I got carryout, does not mean that I should expect Fu Jian prices. and even though I carried out a bag that felt like it might have only a pb&j sammich at the bottom, I was in fact leaving with an expertly crafted gourmet meal and a japanese beer induced bounce in my step. however, my brain does has a great deal of trouble reconciling these tensions and so I’m inviting you to help me ponder it – and trust me, I don’t let my affliction ruin a phenomenal meal, which this one was)
Momotaro Roll: $6.95
Spicy Yellowtail Roll: $5.95
King’s Roll: $8.95
Queen’s Roll $8.95
Ginger Salad: $2.95
Saporo beer: $7.95 (22oz, remember)
Now, I can hardly put a price on anything that make my wife smile like the sushi spread pictured above (and little cups of buttery unfiltered sake from our fridge). But, back to the question that leads into this post. Can sushi be affordable? That is, aside from a lunch special bento box, do you even want to order cheap raw fish? First let me say that Karen saw the receipt and said that I had ordered some cheap sushi. And, it’s true. Even the fancy rolls were cheap compared to fancy stuff from other sushi places. And yet, I viewed those two $8.95 rolls as the culprits on my expensive carryout order. In my mind, my mistake was to order something other than $5.95-$6.95 price-range rolls. But that would have only saved me six bucks at the most. the other issue was the beer. I’d initially thought of asking how much it would cost, should I order it. No. That would be un-classy. And what happens? I pay more than I would have consented to had I known about the price. Every time that I don’t ask about a price, it turns out to be too much for my tastes. Look out Karen, I’m gonna lead with my miserly interrogation of every server from here on out. Okay. Minor diversion.
What the hell is up with that TAX? That’s way too much. And for what? Is there anything else on a sushi receipt that I can’t change, but I can bitch about? Should I order mostly cheap rolls from now on? They certainly were good… probably better than the fancies, in my opinion. Which cheap rolls aren’t worth the money? Which expensive rolls are totally worth it? Can I just clarify that this discussion is about sushi, not one sushi place. Momotaro is great. One WOTB commenter says, “The Maki platter (8 rolls) is a great value with the miso soup and edamame included in the $30 price tag.” If you’ve been there, please do chime in. But, I’m mostly looking for help in developing my own science of sushi ordering.