The town of Reykjavík has been waiting for this for years, so there has been a certain amount of giddiness sweeping over reviewers having found a sushi shop where rolls and sashimi are, believe it or not, affordable. How affordable? A modest sushi box costs about 600 ISK, a large box with ten good-sized pieces, about 1,600 ISK – almost half the price of the other sushi in town. Sushi Smiðjan is not only cheap for sushi, it is one of the cheapest restaurants in town. To give some context, a burger and fries at the neighbouring Hamborgarabúllan is 980 ISK.
Adding to the joy over the cost, is the fact that the place looks good, it has a great website (www.sushismidjan.is), and the service is quick, a rarity in Iceland. Of course, the location, while close to a couple of other respectable establishments, is just outside the standard thoroughfares for tourists and even downtown employees. Then there’s the fact that this isn’t really a restaurant per se. It’s got four stools, and you’re not too likely to see the chef preparing anything. A massive catering operation, most of the work takes place in back or outside of when they’re serving stop-ins.
If you don’t see someone making the sushi, then you’re typically going to taste the difference – sushi starts to suffer immediately upon exposure to air. And here we come to the only reason Sushi Smiðjan hasn’t had a street named in its honour: It really doesn’t have very good sushi. While the servings are honest, and the fish won’t make you sick, it isn’t particularly tasty. Actually, you can’t really taste the flavour of the fish. On some of the rolls, a preponderance of sesame seeds overpower the roll, on others, the fish seems a little old.
In other words, good news, bad news: good news, you can now afford sushi in Iceland, bad news, you get what you pay for. Still, for what they’re charging, they could cut up their shoes and call it sushi, and I’d still probably stop in now and then. BC
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