During the spring and summer of this last year, I made a habit out of enjoying the dollar sushi at Ko-Fusion, inviting friends along with me, and even defending the slow service and roll variety as par for the course in dollar sushi nights. After about twenty recommendations, I decided to try somewhere else, however, eventually making my way one block west on Church Street to actual Japanese restaurant Sushi Kame.
My friends’ rave reviews were justified, and I haven’t looked back.
Sushi Kame offers thirty or forty different rolls, priced between $5–$15 dollars, which means that at there is plenty of dollar sushi for those looking for good food on the cheap (each roll is cut into 5–6 pieces). Those who crave variety won’t be disappointed as there is a wide variety of choices. I get my fix now primarily on the Love Love roll (for under $7 dollars), which has tuna, crab, bell pepper, and avocado with spicy sauce. Just about any combination you can think of is available in a well-priced roll, and those seeking assortments of nigiri sushi and sashimi will not be disappointed by variety, price, or quality, either.
Then, unlike Ko-Fusion, they have actually Japanese food, as well. And the entrees aren’t twenty-plus dollars, to boot. The lunch and dinner bento boxes with salad, rice, tempura, sushi, and/or teriyaki are reliable choices, as are the noodle dishes. I personally love the yakisoba noodles with vegetables; for $7 dollars it’s an ample, well-prepared side or small meal in itself.
What more could you want? How about a variety of $3–$4 dollar Japanese beers and sake, and excellent service? Maybe a small salad (by “small,” I mean a few noodles and cucumber slices) and miso soup to whet the appetite? A slice of watermelon for desert? You got it. And all the extras (salad, soup, and desert) are free.
It is hard for me to believe, looking back on this last month of dining at Sushi Kame, that I used to walk by the place all the time, the small space between Nitaya Thai and Boardman’s Art Theater, in favor of the fish tanks, hit or miss service, and cheap, predictable dollar sushi at Ko-Fusion. (“You say it has cream cheese, shrimp, and is tempura-fried, eh? Fascinating…”) Perhaps I didn’t notice the place earlier because of its low-profile appearance. While brightly lit and quite pleasantly decorated (none of the over-the-top pizzazz and neon of Fusion or Miko), maybe it reminded me a bit too much of the set-up familiar to those who must eat on campus: the food might be good, but why is the place set up like a cafeteria?
Kame is most definitely not a cafeteria. It is one of the most pleasant places for quality sushi and Japanese food in town, and with food costs currently on the rise, it’s also about as a good of a deal as you are going to get for reliably well-prepared and delicious cuisine.
Sushi Kame is located at 132 W Church St in downtown Champaign.
Photo by Justine Bursoni