Not too many of us are exaggerating when we say that we are broke college students, and I hope I'm not alone in the struggle to come up with the extra 75 cents for a bag of vending machine chips. Even before my employment status changed to "Student," I lived by a code whenever I wanted to try out to save my poor wallet's inevitable doom: good eats for cheap because good food should not have to cost you an arm and a leg. So, I'm on the search for cheap sushi in Providence if that's even possible. 

What to Expect

Now, I did my research, so let's set the expectations straight: there are not many options for cheap sushi around Brown University. I had to set some standards going into this to make sure I didn't end up spending more money than I had to on sushi that was too expensive. 

First, I did a simple search for cheap sushi near me and wrote down all the places that popped up that are a reasonable distance from campus to either get delivery from, drive to, or simply walk to. Some places on my list were added by recommendations from peers. 

One cheap roll has to be around or less than a Blue Room sushi roll, which is $8.50 (one meal swipe). At each place, I tried to order at least one California roll, one roll with salmon, and one with tuna. Some places I mixed it up and got myself a specialty roll or a roll that just sounded interesting to me. 

I recruited, or forced depending on who you ask, some friends to eat sushi with me this week, and as a group, we rated each place based on: 1) convenience, 2) freshness, 3) quality of hand roll, and 4) overall worthiness to leave the confines of campus for.

Blue Room

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: Spicy Salmon Roll

How much it costs: $8.50/1 meal swipe  

Our Sushi Star Rating:🍣🍣🍣(3/5)

To not briefly discuss the sushi option on campus is to forget how cheap sushi is on campus. Although it's always a race to get to the campus center by 4 pm so that you can snatch a roll for a meal swipe, I have had my fair share of Blue Room sushi. Don't even bother trying sushi from Andrews, the Sci-Li cafe, or even the Ivy Room; Blue Room's sushi is consistently fresher with delicate rice and better fish consistency, compared to other cafe locations on campus.

My two favorites would have to be the Fried Shrimp Roll and the Spicy Salmon. The tempura in the Fried Shrimp wasn't mushy and the sauce was tangy, nicely complementing the simple flavors of fresh shrimp. My heart will always go to any sushi roll that is spicy, and the Spicy Salmon does not disappoint. The roll was not too spicy with the spicy aioli carefully drizzled over the smooth salmon and crunchy cucumber. But, there are times when the salmon-to-cucumber ratio was skewed so that one-piece was a mouthful of cucumber. The rolls were tight for the price, and I acknowledge this. I'm probably more likely to end up being too lazy to leave campus and end up grabbing sushi from the Blue Room. The fish most of the time tastes fresh enough; I cannot really set high expectations for sushi I have to pick from a fridge.

Haruki Express

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: 2 pieces of Tuna nigiri, a California roll, a Slamming Salmon, and a Philadelphia roll. 

How much it costs: $23.00 (each roll cost around $6 and somehow we got free pork gyoza)

Our Sushi Star rating: 🍣🍣🍣 (3/5) 

Hidden right behind the sky-high Sci-Li on Waterman Street is an Asian marketplace called Haruki Express. Haruki is actually a Japanese chain of three locations in Rhode Island: Haruki Express, Haruki Cranston, and Haruki East. Haruki Express not only offers quick sushi, but it is also a convenience store for Asian snacks and ramen. I did also try Haruki East as it wasn't that far of a walk from campus, but their sushi menus are very similar and so are the prices, which I'll talk about a little later. 

The California roll, as one will see for many of these places, had way too much avocado. The crab was disappointing, and there actually wasn't any cucumber in the roll. The Tuna nigiri was good but the cuts were rather thick, and the wasabi that the chef had spread under the cut almost killed me. I've never had so much wasabi in my mouth at once. And, I actually didn't mind the Philadelphia roll, but it felt mediocre. 

Isabella Steidley

The Slamming Salmon was 5 pieces of cooked salmon, lettuce, cucumber and asparagus with some special sauce on the outside, which I am guessing was an eel sauce/spicy mayo combo. Although the salmon was dry, the lettuce was lowkey a revolutionary experience for me. I may have appreciated the textures in this roll, but some of my friends didn't agree. Even though the secret sauce was a standout flavor, I am not sure if I personally would order this roll again due to its overwhelming vegetable texture. I would probably want to try a roll that has more complexity

Yoo Sushi

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: Lunch Special of Pick any 3 rolls (California roll, spicy salmon roll, and tuna roll which included miso soup)

How much it costs: $15.34 including a delivery charge of $2.25

Our Sushi Star Rating: 🍣🍣🍣🍣🍣(5/5) 

We were pleasantly surprised by Yoo Sushi. This lunch special was a killer price and for that amount of money, I really feel that this place will be the best bang for your buck if you were to get a lunch special, even with a small delivery fee. The California roll was among the top two that we tried: the avocado ratio was well portioned so that the crab flavor was actually noticeable. We did note that there was some browning with the avocado, but that did not affect the flavor. Although the tuna roll was not rolled too tightly and the tuna itself was thick (with a couple c's), it tasted really fresh. But, my favorite out of the three would have to be the Spicy Salmon, with just enough spice and a satisfying texture that pair nicely with its breaded crunch. The miso soup was sharp with flavor and good for a complimentary side dish to help settle the sushi.

I will DEFINITELY be ordering sushi from Yoo Sushi, but I think I would stick with the Lunch Specials and combos that they offer, simply for the price. 

Haruki East

Isabella Steidley

What we ordered: Maki Combo A (California roll, Tekkamaki, and Sakamaki), Tuna Nigiri, Pork Gyoza, Spicy Scallop Roll, Spicy Tekka 

How much it costs: $49.42 (rolls range from $6.50 to $10.75 and the combo was $16.75; the pork gyoza, we got because we were hungry, was $5.50) 

Our Sushi Star Rating: 🍣🍣🍣🍣🍣 (5/5)

The restaurant version of Haruki Express was right down Wayland Avenue near Whole Foods. The restaurant was nicely snug on the corner surrounded by quaint storefronts at just a 20-minute walk from campus. When my friends and I walked in, we all gave a soft sigh: Haruki East would be such a cute date spot. With a similar menu as its Express counterpart, there were definitely more appetizer and entree options if you were in the mood for something other than sushi. We did note that there were more complex and specialty rolls offered at Haruki East than we remembered from Express.

The bill ended up being more expensive than the other places, but it was simply because we ordered a lot more food; the sushi itself was totally affordable especially considering we went for dinner. We split the bill, and with just three of us, the bill individually was roughly $16 and it was agreed upon that the quantity offered by the combo is totally worth your money. The salmon roll came with scallions which, although we didn't think was bad, added more so just an extra texture. The same complaints came from the California roll as its Express counterpart. The Tuna roll was one of our favorites of the night due to the quality of its craftsmanship alongside the freshness of the tuna. 

Tuna nigiri, just like at Express, was a thick cut, but there was no secret weapon wasabi hidden inside this time. The scallop roll was the most expensive at $10, but this roll was my favorite part of the night. The scallop and sauce combo were fresh, creamy, and smooth. My friend also ordered the Spicy Takki, and although she believed the overall roll had a good balance with the cucumber adding a nice crunch, she settled on the avocado ratio being slightly off.

Isabella Steidley

And, just like at Express, the gyoza was really delicious and crispy, but sadly this time around I had to actually pay for it.

Our complaints this time around felt small in comparison to the fact that this place was an adorable spot with fairly affordable prices for a sushi dinner. The fish was fresh and the ambiance calm. You will most certainly be catching me here on date night with a quick trip to Whole Foods after. 

Sushi Cafe

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: Today's Special (California roll, Salmon roll, Shrimp Tempura roll, and Spicy Tuna) 

How much it costs: $10.79

Our Sushi Star Rating: 🍣🍣🍣🍣(4/5)

Sushi Cafe is a small, food court booth at the Providence Place Mall, squished between the two escalators that lead to the arcade and movie theater. The mall itself is roughly a 15-minute walk from campus, and if you are going to be at the mall already for your various needs, it isn't a bad stop to ease your sushi cravings. The sushi rolls here are probably the cheapest of the bunch, while also being a good amount for the price. 

There was avocado in each roll which was kind of a disappointment for me (avocado isn't my favorite by any means). Other flaws included mushy rice and poor craftsmanship. Although the price was the cheapest, the fish still tasted fresh. 

We gave this place a 4/5 because of the price and convenience of Sushi Cafe. Even if you weren't to order the special, the other rolls were just as cheap, at around $5.00. The low price, in my opinion, did not translate to the best quality-to-price ratio, but I would still likely order from here, especially if I go to the mall.

Kochi Sushi and Steakhouse

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: California roll, Tuna nigiri, Salmon roll, and Angry Dragon Roll 

How much it costs: $29.16 (each roll was $5.00 and the specialty roll was $12.00) On top of the bill, there was a $2.99 delivery fee, and a $2.97 service fee, and a $7.00 tip (out of courtesy always tip); the bill ended up being a total of $42.12.

Our Sushi Star Rating: 🍣🍣🍣 (3/5)

Kochi Sushi was the second place we got delivery from (my laziness was at an all-time high). For this delivery, I ordered from DoorDash, and although not uncommon amongst food delivery apps, the fees stacked up really quickly. 

Spoon tip: do not get delivery via delivery apps if you are trying to really eat on a budget.

If we didn't do delivery, Kochi Sushi and Steakhouse is probably the farthest from campus, so you would have to take into account the price of getting there.

The pieces themselves were falling into pieces the second we tried to grab them with our chopsticks. The California roll also had an off texture with the crab being very chewy. But, the fish was extremely fresh and, we enjoyed each roll. 

Isabella Steidley

The Angry Dragon roll consisted of shrimp tempura and spicy tuna inside and was topped with spicy crab meat and a crunch of flakes. Although each piece was huge and I could barely fit it in my mouth without making a fool out of myself, this roll was my favorite of the night. We thought the roll was well balanced in texture, and the crab on top was nicely flavored between the crab's natural sweetness and the spice from its sauce. In the end, the size of the roll didn't feel like a fault because the flavor was just as big. 

I probably won't be ordering from this place again or taking the Uber for a cheap meal at Kochi Sushi. The sushi was good enough, but the lack of convenience overshadowed the decent quality of each roll. 

Ran Zan Japanese Restaurant 

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: Lunch roll combination (California roll, salmon roll, and tuna roll with miso soup) and Tuna nigiri

How much it costs: $19.44

Our Sushi Star Rating: 🍣🍣 (2/5)

Ran Zan Japanese Restaurant is just a 10-minute drive up to Hope Street and was sadly the most disappointing location. It made the list by recommendation of a peer on Facebook. The small restaurant seemed to have their regulars coming in for a late lunch, but on the busy street, there isn't much to do around the neighborhood besides sit down at this restaurant. 

This was also the only location on the list where the fish was not fresh. The tuna was a darker shade than it should be and tasted quite old. The pieces also appeared significantly smaller than what one would expect when ordering a roll from a normal sushi restaurant. 

By the time we finished our rolls, we still hadn't received our miso soup that was included in the special, so we had to ask for it. The soup sadly fell flat and was really bland. I really don't feel as if I have much else to say about this place, but at least the bill was cheap.

Sura Korean and Japanese Cuisine

Isabella Steidley

What I ordered: California roll, Spicy Tuna roll, Tuna nigiri, and Angry Dragon roll (the whole meal included a salad and miso soup)

How much it costs: $36.13 (each roll was around $6.50 and the speciality roll was $13)

Our Sushi Star rating:🍣🍣🍣🍣(5/5)

Showing up three minutes after their lunch hours, I missed the opportunity to have a cheaper bill, but let me just start off by saying that this place was by far the best quality sushi we had. Sura, located in the center of the Financial District downtown, was borderline not cheap sushi. My friend and I just sat there for a hot second taking in how good this sushi was. 

Before the sushi came out, we were served a bowl of miso soup and salad. The flavor of the miso soup was sharp and full. We thoroughly enjoyed its warmth before eating the rolls.

The fish in each roll was the freshest and highest quality fish out of any of the restaurants on our list. The Tuna nigiri was nicely cut and so fresh it melted in my mouth. Their California roll was our top choice of California rolls in comparison to every other place, with the avocado ratio well balanced and the crab flavor present and fresh. The Spicy Salmon roll was smooth in the mouth and an absolute treat to enjoy.

I asked our waiter for her recommendations with a specialty roll, and we ended up ordering an Angry Dragon roll (the same type of specialty roll we ordered from Kochi). I wish there were a million more pieces in this roll because it was so good. The masago on top was like a cherry on top of ice cream. Although he didn't dislike it, my friend thought there was a slight char-like flavor to the roll; but, I would describe it as part of the sweet and tangy punch the sauce and seaweed offered. The shrimp tempura paired nicely with the spicy tuna and whatever else was inside the roll because, to be honest, I completely forgot the description. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Isabella Steidley

Although this price tag was on the higher end of our list, the quality was steps above any of the other places. I was blown away by how the difference in price had such a drastic change in quality. And if only I came in for lunch, I may have gotten the cheaper special, but I was beyond happy with the price tag for what we got.

Final Thoughts

Cheap sushi is hard to find around campus. When it comes down to it, the sushi from places with the "one dollar sign" on Google has been tested, by yours truly, as good enough for any of your sushi addiction needs. However, our top choices were Yoo Sushi and Sura. Yoo Sushi was the best value for your money and Sura was the best overall quality sushi of the restaurants listed.

And, for when you just cannot take any more of Blue Room sushi (or you ran out of Flex Points), I hope I gave you some insight for your next off-campus, budget-friendly sushi adventure. Just remember that part of being an adult is spending your money wisely.