For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme. This Friday, our contestants are Sun Cafe and Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant.
We ordered a Rainbow Roll to test both their sashimi and their California Rolls, a Spicy Tuna Roll, and a Shrimp Tempura Roll for those who are squeamish about eating raw fish.
Delivery Speed: TIE
I was extremely impressed — both restaurants somehow managed to deliver the food in exactly 16 minutes!Â This does make me worry a little about whether or not they have the rolls pre-made, but we didn’t order anything that would take too long to prepare, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Packaging & Presentation: Sun Cafe
Sun Cafe won the packaging and presentation category by a landslide.Â It is rare for a restaurant to put so much effort into presentation for deliveries, but it really helps give a good first impression. I was so taken with the small touches and attention to detail that Sun Cafe demonstrated, that I was almost ready to name Sun Cafe the winner right then and there.
Yeah, that’s right, that orange blob you see is a butterfly carved out of carrot.Â How cool is that? They also included a cute little plastic tray to use for mixing soy sauce and wasabi, which I really appreciated. I always have a hard time getting the right wasabi-to-soy-sauce ratio in those sauce cups that normally come with delivery.
Tokyo Bay opted for a neater, plainer presentation, simply packing all three rolls into one container.
Quality & Taste: Tokyo Bay
Tokyo Bay redeemed itself with its quality and taste. The sashimi used in their Rainbow Roll was fresh and delicate, unlike the tough and fish fare from Sun Cafe.Â Tokyo Bay also had a better rice-to-fish ratio. Additionally, the rice was soft and sticky — the way good sushi rice should be.
When I looked beyond the carrot butterflies (apparently there to draw attention away from the actual food) that came with Sun Cafe’s sushi, I noticed just how thick the layer of rice was on all of their rolls. This definitely made their rolls more filling, but it made the sushi less enjoyable and more difficult to chew. It probably didn’t help that their rice was really hard: I couldn’t tell if it was undercooked or stale.
Sun Cafe’s spicy tuna roll had zero heat to it, but instead had a strong sesame flavor. Enjoyable, yes, but a spicy tuna roll it was not. On the other end of the spice spectrum was Tokyo Bay’s spicy tuna, which had a nice tongue-tingling spiciness –just enough to be exciting, but not so much that I was reaching for my water. Both shrimp tempura rolls were decent, although I should note that Tokyo Bay added avocado and cucumber to the roll while Sun Cafe did not. I found the cucumber a little overwhelming, but it did add even more crunch to the tempura.
Value: Tokyo Bay
I had a difficult time deciding the winner for this category. Here is the price breakdown:
Spicy Tuna Roll: $6
Shrimp Tempura Roll: $6
Rainbow Roll: $9
Spicy Tuna Roll: $5.50
Shrimp Tempura Roll: $5.95
Rainbow Roll: $12.95
As you can see, there wasn’t much of a difference between the spicy tuna and shrimp tempura rolls.Â Sun Cafe’s rolls were a little bigger, but they also used a lot more rice. The main difference in value was the Rainbow Roll. However, the extra $4 for Tokyo Bay’s Rainbow Roll is definitely worth it, because Sun Cafe’s was inedible to the point that not even their cute presentation could compensate.
To sum it up, although Sun Cafe’s presentation and packaging skills almost won me over, the poor quality of their rice and sashimi was unforgivable. Tokyo Bay’s plain-looking but higher quality sushi was the winner of this race!
Sun Cafe (3/6 pizza slices)*
67 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007-1821
Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant (4/6 pizza slices)
183 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013