The question on sushi-lover’s tongues these days is, “Can the city support the five sushi joints rumored to be opening downtown?”. It’s a good question, and just the fact that we must ponder it at all is pretty incredible. I remember the 2 1/2 hour lines at Kuni’s well. Those lines formed long before there was ever any announcement of his closing his doors, yet people still clamored to get a seat at the restaurant. As people sat and ate, Kuni always served a steady stream of take-out as well. Plus, when the patio season opened there were a few more seats that never even alleviated the long lines to get in. Cecelia’s Restaurant mainly benefited as customers endured the wait as people sipped their cocktails while waiting for the magical phone call.
Now there will be a take out restaurant opening on Lexington in the former Local Color Gallery and Lexi Co-op locations (joint space). There will also be Kibarashi opening in June (Kuni’s former location). Then we have Pangaea Sushi Bar and Grill opening on Hertel some time this year. That’s three. Word on the street is that a sushi eatery is planning on opening in the former Urban Valet space next to Solid Grounds on Elmwood. Then there was the recent news of a sushi emporium opening on Auburn (depending on permits) that would also serve cooked food along with the raw fish. Wow!
It’s a gamble, but I think that all these sushi joints can co-exist together. Maybe I’m being selfish and thinking about the lack of sushi in the city at the moment (thank the lord for Tsunami on the city border), but with hundreds of people that were willing to wait those excruciating wait times I believe that sushi is the only type of food that could grow this fast around here and thrive at the same time.
First of all, the Lexi sushi shop will only be take out, so it will be a go-to for families with kids and people who don’t have the time to sit down in general. The former Urban Valet is tiny and will not be able to seat more than a handful of people. Kibarashi will also be small. They will open for lunch, which is perfect, and at night it will fill up fast. And their overflow can hop on over to the sushi emporium right around the corner on Auburn. It sounds like there might even be a hibachi grill to attract the Japanese food lovers. And last but not least, there will be a sushi offering on Hertel that will draw customers from North Buffalo, University District and the surrounding areas. Hertel has recently turned into a restaurant melting pot so I am sure that there will plenty of fans around to fill Pangaea.
Like I said, I am glad that we are even contemplating an over-saturation of sushi places in Buffalo, rather than planning our next trip to Niagara Falls for the experience. It’s going to be interesting to see what each of these places comes up with as sushi is such a diverse style of food. I wish them all luck and god’s speed.