A restaurant that has twice proven its popularity among Manhattanites dining downtown is opening its third location today — uptown. Formerly feeding folks on East 14th Street (since 2012) and on West 15th Street (at Chelsea Market, since 2013), Beyond Sushi now takes its fresh food and fresh philosophy to a new neighborhood, Midtown West.
“We’ve done really well on 14th Street and in Chelsea Market,” says Beyond Sushi co-founder and head chef Guy Vaknin, who in 2010 appeared on FOX reality cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, hosted by Gordon Ramsay.
“Things were going really great and they’re still going that way. But it’s time to go to a big market,” continues Vaknin. “I felt we needed to do something in the heart of the city. I picked that area because of the lunch crowd. It’s the right time to take the next step.”
What’s more, veg-heads feel that Midtown has been sorely lacking in animal-free establishments. Beyond Sushi gives green eaters (whether for dietary or ethical reasons) something not previously seen near 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
While some may be wary of vegan sushi, swift to label it an oxymoron, dismissal of the rolls, pieces, wraps and other delectable dishes served at Beyond Sushi would be woefully misguided. The casual grab-‘n’-go spots aim to please and never fail to impress with their almost addictive black rice-encased vegetable- and fruit-based menu items.
“Everybody that comes in is usually skeptical. But, once they taste it, it all goes away,” assures Vaknin, who confirms that 80 to 90 percent of their customers aren’t even vegan. While he credits the plant-based community for being early adopters — even going so far as to say they shaped the restaurant’s trajectory with their initial input and continued support — it’s omnivorous patrons who have in large part elevated Beyond Sushi to its cult status. Just try going at lunchtime on a weekday at Chelsea Market or dinnertime on a Saturday evening in the East Village. Needless to say, there’s a wee bit of a wait.
As another article on this site eloquently points out, the cuisine is consistently statisfying. Spoon University’s Katherine Baker writes:
"Surprising combinations of healthy but hearty ingredients like sweet potatoes, avocado, mushrooms, tofu, and crisp green vegetables are thoughtfully paired together, wrapped in seaweed and a layer of rice, and finished with a special sauce. This sushi is art, almost impossible to eat without admiring first and snapping a picture. What’s even better is the flavor each bite delivers, beating all California rolls by a landslide. Take the La Fiesta roll. Filled with avocado, pickled jalapeño, and chayote, this beauty is topped with a mango chili sauce, bringing a burst of sweet and spicy to the earthy roll."
Couldn’t have said it better. At once innovative and familiar, light but satisfying, nutritious yet delicious, Beyond Sushi proves a great go-to, whether you’re on the run between meetings, grabbing a bite before an event, or catering lunch for the entire office.
Vaknin, who until less than two years ago was a card-carrying carnivore, maintains a simple position when it comes to attracting and retaining fans: “Just serve great food. For us, it’s vegan.” Own it.
As for what’s to come, Vaknin is optimistic the micro chain will grow. “Do I have plans to expand? Yes. Do I want more locations? Yes. When? It’s a mystery. I don’t know yet. This was a big leap. The next step will come. It’s just a matter of time.”
For now, sink your teeth into Vaknin’s visionary yet accessible creations at one of the three locations in Manhattan.
The latest location of Beyond Sushi opens its doors today:
Beyond Sushi Midtown West • 62 West 56th Street (between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue) • 646.964.1117 • M – F 10 AM – 8 PM + Weekends 11 AM – 8 PM • Online ordering for pickup is available, but delivery service not yet set up.