Having recently checked out ShopHouse, a/k/a Asian Chipotle, we were intrigued to learn about Kobeyaki, a new fast-casual Japanese joint directly across the street from the Fashion Institute of Technology that specializes in “rolls, bowls, burgers, and buns.” Wanting to see if it followed the ShopHouse model, we popped in for a quick lunch.
Most of the sushi options feature cooked fish, but we opted for the incongruously named sashimi roll ($9.66), which wasn’t so much sashimi as a combo of raw tuna, salmon, and cooked shrimp, wrapped inside out and topped with scallions and tempura crunch flakes. Although the eight large pieces were made to order, we weren’t that impressed by the quality of the tuna and salmon, and the fish itself was overpowered by an excess of rice and all of the toppings.
The braised pork bun ($7.81), however, was quite nice. The meat was tender and juicy, and the hoisin and spicy mayo sauces paired nicely with it, while a veggie slaw added crunch. If you’re not a pork fan, you could get a burger made with kobe beef, spicy tuna, chicken teriyaki, or grilled veggies, or a bun made with fried soft shell crab ($7.81-$10.35). The burgers and buns seemed like better options than the bowls, which are filled with white rice, brown rice, salad, or udon noodles, and topped with grilled beef, chicken, shrimp or veggies ($7.81-$9.87). Ramen and udon soups are also available.
We also ordered a side of spicy cucumber salad ($2.99), essentially raw cucumbers with a sweet dipping sauce flavored with shichimi togarashi. It was decent, though maybe not worth the price tag, since essentially it was half a cuke with sauce on the side.
All in all, the prices are a little bit high for what you get, although service is speedy and efficient (you order up front and get a buzzer that goes off when your food is ready), making it a good option for a quick lunch or even dinner. We’d suggest skipping the sushi for the burgers and buns, which are substantial enough to justify the $8 price tag. While not really a destination spot, it’s worth checking out if you’re an FIT student or work in the neighborhood and are tired of the usual options. Unlike the standard fast-casual burger joint, you can also order wine, beer, and sake. Which is great, because some workday afternoons just call for sake bombing.