Location: 229 E 14th St New York, NY 10003
Reviewed By: Terry Chao
Whenever I hear the words “vegan” and “sushi” used in one sentence, I usually cringe in gut wrenching fear of what usually shows up on my plate: crumbly, tasteless rolls wrapped in mushy seaweed, with only cucumber or avocado as the filling. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that there was actually a vegetarian (and soon to be all-vegan) sushi joint right here in NYC!
Beyond Sushi uses a mix of perfectly cooked multigrain and black rice with fresh, crisp vegetables to create some artistically delicious and nutritious vegan sushi. On a recent visit to the cute hole-in-the-wall space for dinner, I was a bit surprised to find out how small the space was… it literally looked more like a “sushi café” than a restaurant. Still, it was impeccably clean and had simple, modern décor that suited the aesthetic of sushi-eating, at least in my humble opinion.
Spicy Mang Roll:
First off, I paired my meal with a Mint Cucumber Lemonade which I grabbed from the mini-fridge on the side of the restaurant, which was a good palate cleanser.
I ordered the Spicy Mang roll as a starter and enjoyed watching the staff put together the sushi right in front of me, hibachi-style… without the suffocating grease smell or smoke. The rolls are created super quickly and efficiently, and mine was ready in only 5-7 minutes.
The Spicy Mang roll is comprised of satisfyingly moist black rice, avocado, mango, cucumber and some spicy pickled cabbage, radish and bell pepper on the top. My favorite aspect of the roll was the creamy yet tangy orange dressing on the top, which I found out later from owner Guy Vaknin was a simple blend of Japanese tofu, grapeseed oil and cayenne pepper, finished with a dash of Sriracha sauce in the middle.
The dressing complemented the roll perfectly and injected some welcome flavor and a smooth texture/mouthfeel to an otherwise plain-tasting roll. That’s not to say the roll itself couldn’t hold it’s own though, I thoroughly enjoyed how fresh the ingredients were, from the subtle hint of mango to the refreshing crunch of the cucumber. It was mildly filling, but I was still hungry after just that one order of Spicy Mang, so I’d say it falls more into the “appetizer” category.
Baked Tofu & Mango Pieces:
I also ordered the “baked tofu” and “mango” sushi pieces, which were $1.00 each and about the size of a conventional spoon. The baked tofu piece had a nice flavor and a great barbeque style sauce, though the tofu slice was a bit dry for my taste.
I enjoyed the mango piece more so than the baked tofu since the wasabi sauce and the fresh mango made for a more interesting flavor combination. However, given the size of the portion for the price, I would probably recommend ordering a roll instead of the pieces, which can get costly quite quickly and most likely leave you pretty hungry.
Curried Buckwheat Soba:
For my entrée, I ordered the curry buckwheat soba noodle, which can be customized from a small blackboard near the counter: you can choose your sauce, noodle type and whether you would like to add any additional veggies, which was nice.
Though it looked promising to the eye, I found that the soup base was actually quite bland and not seasoned at all. Even after I added some soy sauce, salt, sriricha and sesame oil for flavor, it still didn’t save it. It did have lots of different vegetables though: enoki and shitake mushrooms, thick seaweed, celery and potato slices bulked up the meal. Still, the dish was lackluster and I wouldn’t order it again.
Spicy Shroom Roll:
After eating all of the above, I was actually still kind of hungry (crazy, right?), so I ordered the Spicy Shroom Roll as a kind of finisher. It was chock-full of flavor, with plenty of different sorts of marinated mushrooms: enoki, shiitake and portabella. There were also buckwheat noodles and lettuce to make the roll more filling. The pickled ginger and sriricha added a great kick to the roll, but I felt like the ginger was a bit much. Overall, I really liked the consistency of the roll and would try the other kinds.
Beyond Sushi is a great place to grab a quick, healthy bite to eat. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal but would probably recommend it only for lunch, since it isn’t the most filling type of fare. Still, if you want to try out some truly flavorful unique vegan sushi creations, roll your way down to this cute little joint… you won’t regret it!
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Décor/Ambiance: 3 out of 5 stars
Terry Chao is a freelance journalist and vegan junk-food devourer based in NYC. She first became vegan in November 2006, a night she will remember forever since there was absolutely nothing to eat in the fridge besides a lone can of beans and a stale slice of white bread, which promptly changed after she set out to explore every vegan restaurant in the near vicinity. You can read more about her vegan food-scavenging adventures on Vegan Chao.