Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lunch Box Special: Sushi Tei in Guilderland

It hasn't even been two months since we moved here, but K and I are already thinking about where we might live next.  Still in the Albany area--we're happy to finally settle into a place--but maybe not in an apartment complex like the one we're in.  It'd be nice to have a yard of our own again; I know Mr. P misses all the acquaintances he made, from the comfort of his condo, while in the Appalachians last year: the groundhogs, the chipmunks, the possums.  Those were the days!

But it also struck me while thinking about this piece that we've now found a second restaurant in the Guilderland area that we enjoyed, Sushi Tei (after we were already impressed by Nosh Delicatessen).  So I was thinking, even though we're dealing with a particularly small sample size here: is it outlandish to take into account a neighborhood's dining options when considering moving there?  I admit, this sounds like one of those crazy demands someone might pose for the realtor on House Hunters, but it is nice to have good options nearby.

Sushi Tei, at least as a lunch spot, fits that bill. 

So far, the only other place we've visited in the area for sushi is Yoshi Sushi in Latham.  I'm not about to write off Yoshi just because of one experience, but we weren't particularly impressed with several things about Yoshi for dinner.  It's a small, fairly uninviting space, and the quality of the sushi didn't match up with the price.  We live nearby, though, so we're hopeful that the lunch specials, which seem promising, work out better.

Comparatively, Sushi Tei struck a lot more positive notes.  The restaurant is tucked into the side of a strip mall on Western Ave., but inside it's a charming little place: there's a wood-paneled sushi bar, and the walls are adorned with the art of Hokusai, including, of course, his Great Wave.

The full menu at Sushi Tei is quite extensive, ranging from some amusingly- (Shaggy Dog, Spicy Girl) and confusingly-named (both James Bond and 007) rolls to tempura, katsu, and soup dishes.  There's even some good variety amongst their Lunch Box Specials, which is what we were most interested in.  We both got the Sashimi Box ($11.50, though the to-go menu lists it as $12.95 and including "today of appetizer," which we didn't get), which came with miso soup, salad with a ginger dressing, rice, one of the lunch sushi rolls, and, of course, the sashimi.

The soup was generously filled with small squares of tofu, and the ginger dressing had just enough bite to add compelling flavor to the otherwise nondescript salad.  The excitement, though, came with the sashimi and the roll.  K got the White Tuna Roll, while I had the Salmon Avocado Roll, and we were both pleased with our choices.  Avocado and salmon are always a splendid combination, and the simplicity of the White Tuna Roll was highlighted by the flavors of that tuna.

Fortunately, the white tuna consumption wasn't limited just to her roll.  The sashimi offerings, quite generous for the price of this lunch, included salmon, tuna, white tuna, and what appeared to be red snapper (though you can't be certain what you're getting when it comes to that type of sushi).

I can't sit here and say this was the best sashimi I've ever had.  The salmon was succulent and creamy, the mark of a good cut of fish, and the white tuna had its classic buttery qualities.  But while K's white tuna was nearly flawless, one of my pieces had a bit of tendon running through it.  The regular tuna would be average, I'd say, both texture and flavor-wise.

But when you take into account the entire scope of the meal, for this price, it's impossible not to be impressed.  For now, I'm happy to just visit occasionally while exploring all the options around us.  There's no question, though, that if I lived in this part of Guilderland, there would be frequent visits for lunch at Sushi Tei. 

Sushi Tei is located at 1800 Western Avenue in Guilderland/Albany and open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner.


  1. I like Sushi Tei. I liked Yoshi too. I also am a fan of Shogun, and the Bethlehem Shogun is my most frequently visited sushi establishment at this time. While I didn't pick Bethlehem for proximity to great restaurants (it would be hard to pick one town/area that "has it all," and I don't mind driving 20 minutes), I did pick where we lived based on running. I didn't want to be in Latham, land of busy roads and barely any sidewalks.

    1. Yeah, I agree that driving 20 minutes to go eat somewhere isn't bad (after getting used to driving an hour or more the past few years). I'll definitely have to check out one of the Shoguns.

      The lack of sidewalks in the Latham area is really funny. It's no wonder it's so crowded at the Crossings at Colonie.