Kosher sushi that is worth the wait

You don’t go to Sushiya for the atmosphere. It’s a small place with just 26 seats on hard wooden benches.

Southern Avenue, with Ori Naftaly (front right) (photo credit: Courtesy)
Southern Avenue, with Ori Naftaly (front right)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This was not an easy review to write. Not because the sushi is bad. In fact, I have the opposite problem. It’s really, really good, and this small place near the center of town in Jerusalem is already crowded. I hesitate to share this find with more people, because it means I’ll have to wait even longer for my sushi the next time I go.
You don’t go to Sushiya for the atmosphere. It’s a small place with just 26 seats on hard wooden benches. There are two proper tables, each for four diners, and two high tables with two seats each. The rest of the seats are at the sushi bar. It’s not a place to linger and there is almost always a line of people waiting to get in. They do not take reservations, although you can call ahead and order take-away.
The most popular item here is the rice bowl, with or without fish. With fish it’s NIS 38, and the vegan version is NIS 28. Sushiya is a great place for vegans, by the way, as any items made without fish are vegan, except for a mayonnaise sauce.
Sushi chef Dror, wearing a green bandanna, says he often makes hundreds of these rice bowls a day, and it’s one of the best deals out there. It’s basically chirashi – with rice and glass noodles on the bottom – topped with raw fish, crunchy cooked fish, and all kinds of vegetables varying depending on what’s in season.
Although I am a big fan of the rice bowl, this time we went for an assortment of sushi, starting with an ichiban roll (NIS 49 for 8 pieces and NIS 59 for ten pieces), one of the special rolls on the menu. It is an inside-out roll, with raw fish and vegetables. On top are pieces of salmon, spicy mayonnaise, and eel sauce and the roll is finished with a blow torch. When I first heard eel sauce, my heart stopped for a minute, as I had made sure the restaurant is kosher before visiting. But eel sauce is teriyaki sauce that is condensed down, often used on eel sushi as well. There was no eel here, but the interplay of flavors and textures was amazing. Very highly recommended.
We were three people so we went for the “family combination” of sushi (NIS 234). It was 58 pieces, including nigiri, regular rolls and inside-out rolls. Each piece of a roll counts as one piece so it’s not quite as much as it sounds, but still a lot of sushi. It fed three hungry people, one of whom is an 18-year-old young man. Need I say more? The chef chooses the fish, based on what’s available at the market that day. In our case, there was salmon and sea bass, and while I had been hoping for fresh tuna, the sushi was so good, I didn’t miss it at all.
If you are only two people, I suggest either the “combination for 2”, which is NIS 102 with fish, and NIS 74 for vegetarian for 26 pieces. If you’re very hungry go for the “large combination for 2” with 32 pieces for NIS 132.
While the chef chooses exactly what goes into each roll, you can ask to leave something out. For example I dislike green onions and my son loves them, so Dror left them out of the sushi, but gave him a separate large bowl of green onions which he ate with gusto.
So check out Sushiya, but be prepared to wait. Don’t give up. I promise it’s worth it.
Tzohar Kashrut
Trumpeldor 1, Jerusalem Phone: 02-6259905
Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11:30 pm, Friday until 2 pm, Saturday night open an hour after Shabbat
The writer was a guest of the restaurant