Japanese Market – Sushi Deli
1412 79th Street Causeway
North Bay Village, FL 33141
There’s a great little Japanese market on the 79th Street Causeway in North Miami run by a Japanese family, headed up by Chef Michio Kushi. The market opened in 1983, run by the current owner’s brother-in-law.
In 2002 they added a sushi bar, with counter seating and a table giving them a capacity of about twelve people. The proprietor is also the sushi chef, Michio Kushi, and his family helps run the store as well.
We’ve been coming to this market for years; their selection of Japanese food and non-perishables is extensive. They carry the premium quality Japanese rice for example, uncommon even for Asian groceries. But this 79th street causeway sushi bar, called Sushi Deli, is a nice destination in it’s own right. Here’s how a Sushi Deli sushi run went down for us last weekend.
They have a great little menu for such a small place, and reasonable prices to boot. Rolls are in the $5-10 range, and nigirizushi is $1-5. And despite being a small sushi counter, they prepare some hot foods in the back to balance out the menu.
We started out with a disappointing unagi don. It came from the kitchen served on a paper plate and had no sense of presentation whatsoever. An excessive pile of rice with an undersized portion of unagi. Some iceberg lettuce with dressing, and cold, unseasoned edamame. The price was about $5 if memory serves, but this dish was a far cry even from the unagi don served in Whole Foods Market for about $8.
Luckily things were about to get tasty! We ordered an assortment of nigiri, and were pretty happy about the outcome. Taking a big taste of sushi rice by itself, we were impressed; it was warm, tasty, seasoned rice that starts out every sushi order in the best way. This is, after all, one of the few places to buy high quality Japanese rice for sushi. And Michio-san cooks it and seasons it well for a terrific result.
The menu includes a small number of rolls, and a few hard to find items like battera sushi. There are several hot items on the menu too, it’s limited but offers something for every taste.
We decided to try a seldom ordered roll, the natto maki, along with a classic Japanese roll, the futomaki. Our nattou was suitably stinky, but we would have preferred it with scallion. Many single ingredient rolls are made better by scallion, and we think this is one of them.
Our futomaki was a big roll, a typical futomaki in many ways, but with not enough kanpyo. And therefore the taste was a bit flat, with the main flavor coming from the tamago and asparagus. This is highly subjective of course, the only real requirement for futomaki is to be a large roll full of complimentary ingredients.
They do a great job on nigirizushi here. We ordered a lot and were pleased with what we got. Gunkan sushi was all well made here; they don’t overload the rice. And they came with nice little slices of cucumber. A little dab of wasabi is recommended on uni gunkan, although it’s certainly not a requirement.
Most of the nigiri had a nice dab of wasabi on the underside of the neta as well. That’s nice and absolutely correct, although many sushi chefs in America shy away from it for fear of putting off clueless patrons. But traditionally the sushi chef will put a small amount on each piece with fish as the topping, varying the quantity based on the type of fish.
The combination of discerning application of wasabi, delicious rice and fresh fish make the nigiri here most enjoyable. A few items could be improved on however. The ika (squid) we received was a small flat piece which did not appear to be scored on the surface. Ika needs this, in order for soy sauce to be able to adhere to the neta.
A few items are listed as sometimes available, and one we enjoyed was tai. This snapper
is sometimes prepared in unusual ways, like flash cooking the skin with boiling water, or infusing the fish with kombu flavor, or simply refrigerating it to let the flavor concentrate as the acids break down. Always try to have this served with some of the skin, as shown in the photo here, as it adds flavor. The worst way to serve this is to simply take a small strip of skinless flesh from the freshly cut fish and serve — it will be nearly tasteless.
One thing that is truly subjective is tamago. It must be light and fluffy if it is made correctly, and the tamago here is indeed. But we’ve come to appreciate the sweetness most sushi chefs get in their tamago, which comes from the use of sweet sake, and which was distinctly missing from the tamago here. Now that’s a bit nit-picky, but we had trouble discerning even a little sweetness, and sorely missed it.
Overall the food here is very good, the ambiance is great too. These are friendly people running the show here, as you’ll quickly discover if you sit at the sushi bar. Quality can be inconsistent though. Check out our amaebi; too much meat was cut with the head and deep fried, not enough left raw for the nigiri.
Another thing worth commenting on is the market itself. Most of the floor space is devoted to the store, and they make very good use of the shelf and wall space. In fact this Japanese market carries the best selection of Japanese groceries, dry goods and miscellany than any other place in South Florida. It’s a popular market though, so on weekends they can and do run out of the perishable items in the freezer section in particular.