I thought I had Tamaki Custom Sushi and Wraps clocked as soon as I walked in — the Subway of sushi. But you won’t find any $5 foot-long sushi rolls here. What you will find, says owner Frank Cheng, is a new take on sushi and Asian cuisine. Fresh, quality ingredients combined with fast service are the defining features of his new restaurant concept.
Tamaki opened about three weeks ago, and Cheng — who also owns Xiao China Grille and Lounge nearby — said things have been going “pretty good” since the soft opening.
The restaurant offers made-to-order sushi, rice bowls and wraps with the convenience of a sandwich-type ingredient bar. Here’s how it’s done: Choose your wrap or rice bowl, pick one of 14 proteins — ranging from spicy crab and tuna to smoked salmon and Bulgogi steak — and then choose your veggies (nearly two dozen to choose from) and any of the six sauces. You’re then given a choice of seaweed wrap or, for the less adventurous, soy wrap to hold it all together.
Sushi is hot in mid-Michigan, and this concept advances the Asian sensation into the realm of fast casual dining.
“There is a niche market for affordable sushi for Lansing,” Cheng said. “There’s no other place like (Tamaki) around town.” Or in the state — Cheng said that the only other restaurant with a similar concept is located in Texas.
Cheng says that you’ll find only “high end stuff” at Tamaki. Take the Bulgogi steak, for example: The steak is shaved Korean rib eye that is marinated in-house in a soy sauce base with Asian pear and pineapple juice.
The problem with sushi is that if you want it fast, you’ve got limited options. I have always been terrified of the prospect of buying prepackaged sushi from grocery stores, and most sushi places are sit-down restaurants. Tamaki makes sushi a quick-lunch option.
If you’re a vegetarian and you’re tired of always eating lettuce, tomato and onion sandwiches, Tamaki is the place for you, Cheng says. Where else can you find custom wraps with asparagus and several varieties of mushrooms? SI
Goddess among us
City Pulse has another new neighbor. Last week the Triple Goddess Bookstore relocated from its Okemos home for the last 19 years to 1824 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing, tucked into the same building with the 3-month-old Capital City Homebrew Supply. The move comes hot on the heels of the closing of its next-door neighbor, Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum.
“We really depended on the Travelers Club to keep us busy,” says Triple owner/operator Alan Coe. “Once that closed, our business died right off. Now, I can’t even stand the thought of driving by there and seeing that empty space.”
Triple Goddess (named for Coe’s wife, Dawn, her mother and their late friend Sally) opened in 1993 specializing in New Age books and materials. Coe says that the move is good in many ways, with the biggest appeal being his closer proximity to his regular customers.
“Being right on the No. 1 bus route helps, too,” he says. The size is about the same —roughly 800 square feet — but Coe says he’s going to shift the focus from books and CDs (which he says are being largely ignored thanks to modern file downloading) to more gifts and service-oriented amenities such as tarot and astrology readings. AIR
Tamaki Custom Sushi and Wraps
310 N. Clippert St., Lansing
10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday:
Noon-8 p.m. Sunday
Triple Goddess Bookstore
1824 E. Michigan Ave.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily (hours may change)