Hopefully, you know to avoid places advertising "50% off" on the awning, as well as sushi bars stuck in locations they don't belong (i.e. Chinese restaurants). But still, tracking down the good-quality stuff is a matter of putting your money -- and stomach -- on the line. I did just that and discovered: yes, decent sushi does exist in Central Queens.
Sushi Yasu - When the sushi's this good, who needs ambiance?
The menu begins and ends with sushi: you won't find teriyaki, udon, or even appetizers. Alcoholic beverages are strictly BYOB, but the sushi is terrific. In the sushi deluxe ($21), the fish is so fresh and sweet and the rice so well seasoned, soy sauce is unnecessary. Yasu uses real grated wasabi root, which is milder and more nuanced in flavor than the more common paste. The maki are also worth a mention -- especially the popular Marilyn Monroe roll ($13).
- Sushi Yasu, 71-45 Yellowstone Blvd, Forest Hills, 718-544-0942
Grab a spot at the sushi bar, and order a sake to start. The Chinese guys behind the counter do a pretty good job. The nigiri in my sushi deluxe ($21) were well proportioned; the rice was seasoned right and the fish fresh. I also liked the rich fatty tuna roll with scallion ($7). Shiro offers lots of signature rolls, but these I found heavy-handed, loaded with too many ingredients and sauces.
- Shiro of Japan, 80-40 Cooper Ave, Glendale, NY, 718-326-8704, http://www.shiroofjapan.com
Toyo - A welcome addition to Metropolitan Avenue
My sushi deluxe ($17) looked great, with well-sliced fish and just enough rice, but lacked flavor. I peeked under the fish and saw the chef had not seasoned the nigiri with wasabi. It was fine once I dipped it in soy sauce. The fried oyster maki contained more breading than oyster, and the Toyo special roll ($11) with fried lobster was a little tough. I did, however, like the sky roll ($10), with yellowtail, salmon, and scallion.
- Toyo Japanese Cuisine, 73-06 Metropolitan Ave, Middle Village, 718-894-8880
Sakura-ya - DIY sushi (and everything else Japanese)
- Sakura-ya, 73-05 Austin Street, Forest Hills, NY, 718-268-7220