Saturday, June 26, 2010


Name: saké-tumi
Location: 71 Court St., Binghamton, NY 13901
Phone: (607) 238-1771
Cuisine: Japanese/Fusion/Sushi
Attire: Casual
Price: Depends what you get. Probably $50+ for two

saké-tumi occupies the location of the former Buffy's Burritos in downtown Binghamton. They offer an eclectic menu of Asian-fusion entrees and traditional and original sushi rolls. We went for the first time last night and I enjoyed the experience. The sushi was definitely the best I've had in the Binghamton area. Granted, that is a relative statement. But I am enthusiastic about making a return visit.

The first thing that struck me about saké-tumi was how empty the place was at 7:00 PM on a Friday night. Besides our group (our friends Tom and Patty joined Megan and me), there was only one other table in use at the time. The inside of the restaurant is well-decorated with a nice black, white, and red color scheme. It's definitely chic. But since it was such a nice evening, we opted for their outdoor seating. Never did I think I'd eat out in the middle of the sidewalk on Court St., but it was really rather nice. The table was set up with some plants and an umbrella to offer some shade. I would do the same again on a return visit if the weather cooperates.

The menu is diverse with lots of appetizer and nigiri sushi options, traditional sushi rolls like vegetable rolls, California roll, and Philly Roll, more adventurous "fusion" maki rolls that bring in some unique influences and flavors, and entrees. We opted to stick with the sushi, although Megan did order the gyoza appetizer, which she liked (she is not as big a sushi fan as the rest of us). I ordered two of the fusion rolls.

The first was the Naruto Roll, which consisted of crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, and smoked salmon wrapped in cucumber instead of rice and served in ponzu sauce. I liked this quite a bit. I loved the presentation in particular and while normally rolls of this sort have a tendency to fall apart easily, this one stayed together very nicely. The ingredients were fresh and the flavors were strong. I didn't love this roll but it's worth trying if that set of ingredients looks up your alley.

The other roll was the Kamikaze, which I split with Patty. I thought this one was the better of the two. This had assorted fish in a spicy sauce topped with tuna and avocado and a dot of sriracha. Again, the presentation of this roll was very strong. The fish had nice flavor and it was indeed spicy as advertised. The avocado gave a nice, cooling balance. I would order this one again in a heartbeat.

Tom ordered the saké-tumi roll, and the Super Crunchy roll, and I snagged a piece of each. The former was very good, with tuna, hamachi, and salmon with a spicy mayo. I didn't care too much for the Super Crunchy, but it was still alright. It could've been crunchier. Winky face.

One negative aspect to saké-tumi is the service. I did not think the waitress was particularly good, nor professional; she kind of mumbled the entire time and her attire (t-shirt, shorts, sneakers) was not consistent with the "fine dining" appearance of the restaurant nor the prices of their entrees. A place where nearly all the entrees are $20 or more should probably demand more professionalism from their employees. There was a long wait time for the food (at least a half hour), which was somewhat odd considering they were not busy. I'd assume the chef is a perfectionist who wanted to get the details of the presentation on the rolls right, and he did. So I can't really complain too much. But the moral of the story: don't come to saké-tumi if you're in a hurry.

These were relatively minor concerns though. I really enjoyed the sushi (it compares favorably with the less-adventuresome Sakura Sushi in Endicott) and I think saké-tumi is a very good addition to downtown Binghamton. I was discouraged to see so few patrons. The place is expensive, but other pricey places (P.S., Lampy's, Number 5, Moxie, etc.) do a pretty good business in the Triple Cities. Maybe sushi is more popular among the yuppie crowd (which Binghamton is comparatively lacking in) while those other restaurants are able to rely upon folks from older generations. Whatever the reasons, I am concerned about the longevity of saké-tumi. I hope they can find a way to attract more business. Improving the speed and quality of the service would be a good starting point toward achieving that goal.

Grade: B+

Sake-Tumi on Urbanspoon


  1. Slowest sushi restaurant I've been to in any city... DC, New York, etc. The quality is definitely not worth the wait, which is going to be at least half an hour, even if they have two sushi chefs on hand and you're the only person there. Most rolls are bland and are made with the same ingredients as every other sushi place in the area. They do however have a few specialty rolls that are the closest to a fine sushi dining experience that you're going to get in Binghamton and that is, honestly, the only reason to go.


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