After a long day of strolling and exploring the streets of Sofia… the idea of what to have for dinner was upon us… walking home through from Петте Кьошета (Five Corners) toward our apartment, we passed a new addition, well, new for me. My husband and I usually avoid sushi in Sofia and Bulgaria in general because the quality, price and availability of fresh fish is limited and sketchy to say the least. Since I am pregnant, I am limited to cooked fish and vegetarian options, so I figured why not give them a try?
The menu is limited with no exotic sushi ingredients; carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, salmon, tuna, shrimp, artificial crab sticks, cream cheese… they did how ever offer a fusion ingredient of mozzarella, which sounded completely unappealing. To be fair, they are called Sushi Express, not “Gourmet Sushi Express”. They offer hoso maki (small or thin roll), futo maki (fat roll), ura maki (inside out roll) sashimi and nigiri (hand formed); a basic sushi menu at a reasonable price, considering other “high-end” or “up-scale” sushi restaurants in Sofia.
|The menu board.|
These offerings are basic and for the most part served promptly in-house or for deliver, but they seemed geared more towards delivery and take-out. Angel and I opted for take-out. We waited about 10 minutes for them to prepare our rolls; we were the only ones in the joint and it was early for dinner, so they didn’t seem to have a back log of orders. What I observed, which was really disconcerting was that on the back counter, a bunch or pre-made rolls were just sitting there with no refrigeration or regard for the safety for the raw fish that they contained. This right there was a major red flag.
As for the the food itself, I was happy that they provided ample gari or pickled ginger. The soy sauce the served seemed to be Kikkoman (judging from the bottle) and they had the low-sodium option, which Angel and I are fond of and purchased a 1.5L bottle of at Alex, earlier in the day for our homemade sushi nights! The rolls were basic, the shari-su, which is the seasoning added to the rice because su-shi means “vinegar rice; was barely present and not a contributing factor in the taste. My vegetarian rolls were a disappointment because the attention to detail was completely lacking, not to mention unhygienic. The rolls smelled distinctly of fish, which means our sushi “masters” didn’t bother to clean the knife between cutting the different rolls and not familiar with proper rolling technique that I was taught at The Culinary Institute of America, which is no “pinwheels”. I am not surprised by these occurrences, but the smell was a put off considering it was a cucumber-avocado roll.
|The “pinwheel” direct from their website.|
Bottom line: would I order from them again? Probably not, but however even when I am not pregnant, I am subject to food cravings and desires and if I need a sushi fix in a pinch, while at my apartment in Sofia, I MIGHT, order from them and try my luck, hoping for a cucumber-avocado roll minus the fishy aroma. Knowing their food safety habits, I will stick with veggie hoso-maki because their veggie futo-maki included cream cheese, which I don’t believe is a good ingredient choice even with salmon in the “Philadelphia” roll (the cream cheese was not Philadelphia… it was a cheaper imitation.) If you are feeling brave, take a chance… you might have a more positive experience than we did!
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