After a semester’s absence, fresh sushi has returned to Murray State’s campus at Market ’22, located next to the Thoroughbred Room.
After moving Dunker’s Deli into the T-Room salad bar area, the old in-the-wall sandwich joint was gutted for renovations. Old equipment was either removed or repurposed.
High demand from students caused Murray State’s Dining Services and Racer Hospitality director Paula Amols to push hard for a sushi comeback.
“We’d been wanting to bring it back to campus because we knew students missed it,” Amols said. “The manager of the T-Room thought we could incorporate Dunker’s into the T-Room, so we decided to go for it.”
The sushi offered on campus is prepared and sold by Sushi with Gusto.
The business provides Murray State with a sushi chef and a sushi assistant, all of the products and packaging.
The University offered sushi from Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar up until the beginning of last semester, when the contract was terminated due to failure to provide the product in a timely manner.
Philip Allen, sales executive of Sushi with Gusto, said high quality and freshness are the main goals of the operation.
“We do really high quality retail sushi,” Allen said. “We have really high standards for our rice, fish and seaweed. We have our own standard of rice, actually.”
Market ’22 carries 25 varieties of sushi, each created in a made-to-order fashion by the chef, Maung Tuang, or the chef’s assistant, Joseph Thang — both from Burma — right in front of customers.
Judd Cavitt, junior from Benton, Ky., said the variety is what he appreciates.
“I’m allergic to shellfish,” Cavitt said. “I like that they carry other options besides crab and stuff, like the tuna rolls, because it’s something I can eat.”
Prices tend to stay in the $4.99-$5.99 range for classic orders like a California Roll or a Veggie Roll, but can reach as high as $9.99 for the Chef’s Special.
“We want to be competitive with our prices,” Amols said. “The Chef’s Special is more pricey, but it’s still very popular.”
Popularity has not been an issue, according to Amols. With more variety and a fresher take, there has been as much sushi sold during this year’s off-season as was sold during the last time rolls were offered on campus.
Lines out the door have been common this first week, but Allen said that will change.
“We want to keep the sushi as fresh as possible, and we’re trying to anticipate as much as we can,” Allen said. “As we get through this adjustment period we’ll get better at knowing how much to prepare.”
Within the first day of classes, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Market ’22 closes at 6 p.m.) 250 packages were sold.
Rachel Hendricks, junior from Paducah, Ky., said she likes the convenience.
“I like that I don’t have to leave campus for (sushi),” Henricks said. “It’s right there, easy to access.”
With the starting success of Market ’22, Amols hopes to expand the reach and market of the enterprise.
“We’d like to, if it’s popular enough, put it on the Pony Express,” Amols said.
The goal of Market ’22 is to be a grab-n-go spot for healthier options. Already, that is the marketing line: “If you love sushi, or you’re in a hurry and looking for something quick and delicious — and a little on the lighter side — then Market ´22 is the place for you!” reads the website tagline.
Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer