Cheap sushi: It sounds like an oxymoron or just a bad idea. However, at Tokyo Express in SoMa, it is neither. Located just steps away from Market Street, this restaurant offers affordable Japanese fare in a surprisingly pleasant setting.
A highlight of the menu at Tokyo Express is their wide selection of maki sushi which includes some San Francisco-themed items. With its refreshing mint leaf and spicy lemon ingredients, the 49er roll adds a unique twist to salmon and avocado sushi staples. The Golden Gate roll is, on the other hand, not much more distinct from your average tuna roll.
Surely something with a bit more pizzazz might better represent our fair city--for instance, the best-selling Double Punch roll which contains spicy tuna and spicy mayo along with salmon and tobiko (tiny flying fish eggs that appear as orange speckles on the outside of the roll). A generous mound of pickled ginger and flower-shaped dab of wasabi accompanies each roll. All of the maki sushi items are under $10, with most in the $5-$6 range.
“Happy Hours” at Tokyo Express deserve special note: every day between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., you can order more than 10 items at reduced prices. From sashimi to chicken wings, the Happy Hour menu offers a variety of bargain bites at an average of $3 per selection. Sake and beer are also included in the specials.
While the word “express” typically conjures up images of a cramped, unremarkable place in which one would prefer not to linger, the comfortable atmosphere at Tokyo Express invites patrons to stay awhile. The place has a modern but warm vibe, as sleek lamps hang alongside traditional Japanese paper lanterns and flat-screen televisions are mounted next to cheery, flowered wall hangings.
The restaurant is actually divided into two spaces, one with softer lighting designed to accommodate groups enjoying a relaxing meal and a brighter area suited for those looking to grab a working lunch or dinner. If you really don’t have time to stick around and enjoy the ambiance, though, the restaurant offers both take-out and delivery options.
Tokyo Express is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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