This month we’re exploring North Beach, powered by Lyft. What should we know about? Who should we talk to? Let us know in the comments below and check out our newest neighborhood guide.
Weathered red block letters reading “JAPANESE MARKET” are the only sign that a nondescript tan strip mall on the 79th Street causeway holds some truly fantastic sushi.
Nestled between a realtor’s office and a beauty school, it’s easy to miss the first time. Once you’ve been, it’ll be tough to forget.
The Sushi Deli & Japanese Market, a staple of North Beach, has been around for more than 20 years. Walk through the aisles and you’ll find everything from sticky rice to Pocky, a yummy Japanese snack.
But the best part is the sushi bar, which opened about 10 years ago. Staffed by Chef Michio Kushi, his wife (whose name was not shared), and his daughter Erika Kushi, the 20 seats are pretty much always full. Regulars swear that it has the best sushi in all of Miami-Dade county.
As word spread, the sushi bar started getting more business than the small family could handle, according to Erika. Rather than hire more staff, or expand, they decided to be a bit more selective.
“That’s why my mom started all of these rules,” she said.
Mother Kushi is serious. She’s kicked people out before for breaking the rules.
Hand-written notes line the walls of the sushi bar. They say things like “No snacking in store” and “No cell phones.” There’s also a strict “No photo” policy. (We got permission first, we promise.) It’s not because they’re shy. It’s just that the sushi bar is so busy by lunchtime, with the aisles packed and every seat filled, they simply don’t want any more media attention.
They don’t have a website or a Facebook page. They even tried to get their business removed from Yelp, according to Erika. (They started rumors that they were shutting their doors so that they could get off of Yelp because closing down is the only way to get off of the website. It didn’t work.)
The father and daughter duo make the sushi and sashimi behind the counter while Mrs. Kushi sits at her desk and watches over the store.
But alas, the people keep coming back for more. We shared the market in our North Beach neighborhood guide (sorry we’re not sorry, Kushi fam), but we thought if we were going to send you, we should help you get in formation.
Here’s your step-by-step guide:
- The sushi deli is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest.
- Buuuuttttt hours aren’t set in stone. “Some days it’s 11:30 to 4, Sometimes it’s 1 to 3, sometimes they tell you we’re closing at 3 but it’s really 2,” said regular Lauren Fernandez. You should probably call in ahead of time to make sure: (305) 861-0143.
- There are two rounds of seatings, at noon and 1 p.m. If you want to be on the first seating, call in around 11 a.m. to get your name on the list for noon. (I got there at 11:30 and I had to wait for the second seating)
- They give you a small piece of paper to write your order down on. Think about this carefully, because you get one shot. They will not allow you to top off. Also, you should definitely order the green tea mochi.
- If you get hungry while you wait, feel free to buy some snacks from the market. But you can’t eat them in the sushi bar.
- They don’t serve drinks other than water so if you want something else, you have to buy it from the market and pay before you sit down. You should definitely get some sake.
- NO CELL PHONES. PERIOD.
- At the end, head to the counter to pay. They accept credit cards, but you can only tip with cash.
Trust us, it’s worth it. The sushi is bomb and the rules kind of make it fun (if you don’t get yourself kicked out). If you don’t feel like dealing, just be basic and go to the Benihana across the street.