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Where the food and saké are the bomb

Saké-tumi has the sushi you've been craving all semester

When I first visited Binghamton University as a high school junior, the tour guides, in their loveliest sing-song presentation, boasted of the wonderful offerings that Sodexo makes to their students. This, they swore, included sushi. How foolish I once was. The sushi that’s offered here on campus is mediocre at best. Any sushi connoisseur with a refined palate for raw fish and a passion for the art would find it both uninspired and inedible. Fortunately, a quick bus ride to saké-tumi will impress any lover of hand-rolled fish.

Franz Lino/Staff Photographer

Nestled comfortably between Merlin’s and Maryams Mart on 71 Court St. is saké-tumi, home of the $1 sushi night every Tuesday and Thursday. Saké-tumi is both a sushi bar and a fusion restaurant, meaning that no matter what you like, you’re sure to find something on the menu to suit your tastes. Not a big fan of seafood? From cashew chicken to the flatiron steak, they have something for all carnivores, with an Asian twist.

When you walk into saké-tumi, you’re immediately hit by the atmosphere of the place. As the door closes behind you, you realize that you’re leaving your busy life behind for an hour. The restaurant’s setup is very conventional, with a partitioned sushi bar and traditional eating areas. The sushi bar is on the first floor, while the restaurant and bar can be found in the basement. The added luxury of the bar expands your horizons past Sapporo and plum wine to an exciting variety of cocktails and spirits. It’s the perfect addition for the folks who love cosmos with their spicy tuna rolls (not to mention sake bombs).

This Restaurant Week, saké-tumi is rolling out the “$20 for a three-course meal” deal for dinner. With classic Japanese fusion and sushi appetizers and entrées, it can be hard to choose because it all sounds quite appetizing. For the adventurous soul with a love of fresh vegetables and raw fish, the wasabi tako cucumber cups appetizer shouldn’t be passed up. It’s a fantastic blend of marinated raw octopus resting in a cool cucumber base, with a dab of wasabi for some sting.

If raw fish doesn’t agree with you, the seasonal salmon makes for one of the best entrées at saké-tumi. The marinated and seared salmon is served over a stir-fry of snap peas and red peppers, all over a hot bed of white rice. If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, then look no further than the cashew chicken or the pad thai.

For the maki lover, you’d be doing yourself an injustice by passing up a piece of fresh nigiri (that’s the thin-cut fish over rice). While tuna is always a staple, it’s good to have your own personal go-to. Tuna and salmon are the safe options, so try something a little more adventurous. Tako (octopus) has a nice bite, but the red snapper rarely disappoints.

The sushi lover will feel right at home among some of the more popular fusion maki rolls, like the volcano and dragon rolls. These rolls generally come in sets of eight, and they’re always generous with the fish. Jordan Rindgen, the chef and manager of saké-tumi, recommended the volcano roll for people who want raw food and the cashew chicken or the flatiron for those seeking cooked food.

Since it’s Restaurant Week, you can probably afford dessert. Look no further than the tempura banana, which tastes as amazing as it sounds. Served over a banana peel, lightly fried tempura banana slices are topped with sweet cream. It might be the best banana of your entire life, or you might still be dreaming. It’s a nice light dessert that leaves an agreeable taste in your mouth for the conclusion of the meal.

In the future months, Rindgen said saké-tumi would be revamping its menu, looking to add new dishes from the kitchen downstairs. The goal of the changes is to offer a more seasonable menu and balance out the orders from the sushi with orders from the kitchen. While people order mostly sushi from saké-tumi, Rindgen hopes that a new menu will attract more people to order from the kitchen.

“Right now I’d say that it’s 70 percent of people ordering sushi, but I love it when I have 12 tickets in the kitchen window. I want to even it out,” Rindgen said.

Whether you’re a sushi lover or just a fan of Asian fusion cuisine, saké-tumi offers a meal at a price you can agree with for the quality you receive. With the $20 three-course dinner deal this Restaurant Week, there hasn’t been a better time to try it out.