A few years ago, I had some of the best sushi in town at Rock & Roll Sushi Station, inside a convenience store at NW 63rd and Meridian. It was a true revelation that taught me the significant lesson that gas station eateries are America’s most underappreciated form of dining out, with this sushi place at the top of the list.
Recently, however, I found a new place to rant and rave about, Ninja Sushi Station, located in the Gulf gas station at 5529 SE 15th St. in Del City. While not the prettiest establishment, it is wholly durable, offering a wide selection of homegrown Japanese flavors as well as a few surprises that I never expected to find on the menu, like fried calamari.
Stopping by for a rather large lunch with my favorite gal-pal Jodie, this convenience store had obviously seen better days, with the signage out front missing a letter or two. As we were walking in, a customer angrily threw a bunch of losing scratchers on the sidewalk, cursing the Oklahoma Lottery. Just another day in Del City, I suppose.
Though, due to Covid-19, inside dining wasn’t currently available, the two gents behind the sushi bar were more than happy to take our orders, letting us know that during the busy work week if you order two sushi rolls for lunch, you can get a free bowl of miso soup or two free spring rolls. It was the best deal I had all week.
With a succulent broth that was brilliantly filled with slivers of green onion and hearty cubes of tofu, I would have gladly paid a few bucks for this tantalizing elixir, but downright happy that it was a free appetizer. Gently blowing on it, I brought the cup to my mouth and rapidly drank it down, nearly filling up on the liquid.
I’ve never eaten squid from a gas station, but you won’t catch me saying anything bad about their Fried Calamari ($4.50). A wide circle with a thick bite, sure, it probably comes from a box, but for today’s lunch it seemed to work perfectly. What really makes this snack special is the side of Ninja’s spicy mayo, a creamy sauce with a soothing burn that makes this Calamari an edible delight.
What Ninja is famous for, however, is a true Okie original, the Fried Chicken Sushi Roll ($3.99). A local creation that sets them apart from the more upscale (read: expensive) joints, it’s a typical rice roll with green onion and, of course, a large chunk of fried chicken in the middle. While I’m sure purists might scoff at the mere thought, it’s a blasphemous creation that’s more than worth your usual sushi tastes.
Additionally, you’ve simply got to get a load of this Del City Roll ($11.49). Like its namesake, this is a true Southeast beast, aesthetically pleasing, presenting itself like a flaming dragon. Filled with cream cheese and tempura shrimp, it’s the showy outside that draws wonder: baked crab, crawfish, shrimp, green onion and massago.
A true pair of hungry geniuses at constant work, the masters of Ninja Sushi Station are the culinary equivalent of talented artists that, in a fair and just world, would be on the cover of every free magazine and alt-weekly in this damn city. Cómpralo ya!