It started with one big sushi special. A half decade ago, the half-price sushi night at Sushi Rock went from a good hump day deal to downright hip. If you call for a table now, you’d better do it a day in advance. Manager George Psaras says Wednesdays used to be their slow night. Now it is among their busiest. “Everybody comes dressed to impress,” he says. “Especially at the bar. [But] it looks good when you have a table.” And the phenomenon has spread. Restaurants all around town are attempting to lure customers with the promise of free or reduced-price sushi. We found a way to eat a decent selection of quality sushi at a discount every night.
Where: Tomo Hibachi and Sushi Bar, 15163 Pearl Road, Strongsville, (440) 878-0760
Deal: $20.95 all-you-can-eat sushi
Details: While stuffing yourself full of rice and raw seafood may not sound all that alluring, the best benefit to this night is that it allows you to try new dishes at little risk. Bring a friend, and order the stuff you’re normally too nervous to take a chance on.
Where: Big Eye Sushi, 2965 W. Market St., Fairlawn, (330) 836-4433
Deal: Half-price sushi from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Details: The seaweed is perfectly tight, and the restrictions on what you can order are relatively minimal. But make sure to join the primarily after-work crowd at this strip-mall joint a little early. They tried to charge us full price when we placed our order at 5:55 p.m.
Where: Velvet Tango Room, 2095 Columbus Road, Cleveland, (216) 241-8869
Deal: Free sushi from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Details: As you sip on expertly made cocktails from another era (at first cringing at the raw egg in our drink, we were shocked at how good it was), you can nosh on a limited sample of fresh sushi ordered from Ginza down the street. Four to five selections are served up buffet-style at no charge.
Where: Sushi Rock Downtown, 1276 W. Sixth St., Cleveland, (216) 623-1212
Deal: Half-price sushi from 5 to 9 p.m. (reservations recommended)
Details: This is the night that started the movement. A DJ plays to the Wednesday night crowd full of young professionals and midweek dates. Seven o’clock is the time to be there — and the hardest time to get a reservation. (For East Side suburbanites, the Beachwood location hosts a similar, though not quite as hip, night on Thursdays.)
Where: Sunset Lounge, 1382 W. Ninth St., Cleveland, (216) 535-0001
Deal: Half-price sushi from 4 to 7 p.m.
Details: Expect pulsating house or techno music and tall, skinny chairs around the bar. This lounge has a clubby atmosphere, and it should be no surprise that this is a Warehouse District bar. You can watch the sushi chef make your meal (near the front door). Try the spicy tuna — it was among the freshest we’ve tasted.
Where: Touch Supper Club, 2710 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, (216) 631-5200
Deal: Free sushi from 6 to 9 p.m.
Details: This is the starting point for a large contingent of 20-somethings ready to kick off the weekend barhopping in Ohio City. Expect a large gathering of beautiful people crowding around a healthy spread of sushi that includes all of the basics, such as the staple California roll.
Where: Heinen’s Supermarkets
Deal: Take-home sushi starting at $5.49 for 12 pieces
Details: The first time we saw sushi sold in the supermarket, we thought it was possibly the most disgusting thing we could imagine. But the first time we tried sushi from Heinen’s, we changed our minds forever. While not quite as tasty as the best of the locations on this list, it really isn’t that far off, either.There is something in this tightly wrapped roll that has the power to fill barstools faster than a drink special. Why? We have no idea. But we’ve acccepted it — and found a deal for every night.The sashimi platter from Big Eye Sushi features tuna, yellow tail, ikura, eel and white tuna.