Photo courtesy of Sushi Station facebook page.
More than a few weeks ago I was in Illinois for a house-sitting job and to visit with family and friends. While there I had quite a few opportunities to see exactly what I could eat that was plant-based (vegan) while out socializing at local but suburban restaurants. Having lived in Portland for 2 full years now, I can say that I am spoiled rotten with vegan and heavy produce options when dining out for there is almost always a labeled vegan option on the menu (spoiled and lucky). I was surprised by my former home area and how many options there were available. I would like to share my experiences and tips in this mini-series of mid-west restaurant recaps.
Today I wanted to share my trip to Sushi Station in Elgin, Illinois just north of I-90. Elgin has a population of a little over 109k people with no veg*n (vegan or vegetarian) restaurants to count. Looking over sites like UrbanSpoon and Happy Cow there were only a few options that are known to be veg friendly. My guess is there are way more options available than we know but the channels haven’t been filled in with reviews/updates.
Enter Sushi Station. We arrived around dinner time on a Friday night and only waited about 20 minutes to be seated. Between talking and checking ‘in’ on our phones that time flew by.
Photo courtesy of Sushi Station facebook page.
I did not take a great overview shot of the restaurant but this conveyor belt of heaven snakes throughout the dining area with tables or bar type seating all along the route. The plates are different colors and each color represents a price. Easy. Then there is a little door/window that slides over allowing you to grab a plate. Each type of plate is grouped together with 3-4 more plates of the same. It is preceded by a sign saying what it is and what is in it. If you have more questions, servers are available to help.
I arrived thinking I would have to order off the menu or ask for special veg-only rolls to be made, which I did, but as it turned out I didn’t need to. There were plenty of veg options available going around the ‘station’.
While I delighted on this fresh and tasty roll I also had time to watch the conveyor and take note on what I would grab next.
I had planned on just eating 2 rolls. That seemed reasonable, right? Never. Sushi is light and fresh and once I knew there were exciting other options, I felt the need to indulge on a few more, while considering that I could always take leftovers home.
I grabbed a seaweed salad off the belt, following my friend’s lead. I’ll be honest, I don’t love seaweed salad. The only seaweed I love is nori and kelp noodles BUT seaweed salad is something that I’m always willing to try and like because it is pure chlorophyll green goodness which translates to vitamins and minerals. I make it more to my taste by mixing in pickled ginger and some low-sodium soy sauce.
Meet the Fiesta Roll. If my memory with help of the photo serves correctly, these were avocado, tomato, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeño. Squeeze a little bit of fresh lime over the top and take your first bite of heaven. Another reason it was okay to indulge in a few extra rolls is because the conveyor ones had 4 pieces vs the 6-8 in a standard restaurant.
Next up, we have Spicy Garden Crunch. If you love spicy like I do, you will love this roll. It is avocado, jalapeño, and topping of sriracha. Delicious! and yes I still ate this with a ton of wasabi. Bring on the pain.
And the always available Vegetable Roll. This love is comprised of avocado, carrots, and cucumber. If you haven’t noticed avocados make the world go round especially in sushi. This is a standard but also very tasty roll.
No I could not take a good photo of stuff while it was on the belt but I should get points for trying. Feeling like dessert? They had bowls of pineapple and mandarin oranges. A perfect sweet treat to enjoy at any point during your meal. Also, for an appetizer, the cold edamame were amazing.
This was the first time I’d had sushi in months. I’m not sure why but we just haven’t gone out for it much in Portland. I left with a happy but not overly stuffed belly. Every roll was fresh and flavorful.
If you’re interested in checking out the plant-based options (or traditional sushi) at Sushi Station, they are located at 2486 N. Randall Road, Elgin IL 60123.
When was the first time you tried sushi? What are your favorite rolls? I first tried sushi on a date when I was about 18 or 19. I had never heard of it so it was quite a new experience. I was skeptical and wouldn’t try a raw fish roll for a few years but loved the California roll straight off. When I finally mustered up the courage to try fish rolls and sashimi I loved those too (tuna, salmon, etc). I’m content with the vegetable options available and if you’re scared of raw fish those are good options for you too.