Kristine Varkony / Lantern reporter
A new array of sushi concoctions prepared by an outside company in the Union Market is catching some students’ attention.
Ohio State has signed a one-year contract with Sushi With Gusto, a South Carolina-based company, to make and serve sushi in the Union Market in the Ohio Union, said Joel Linik, Ohio Union sous chef.
“We decided to have a better product, better quality, freshness, and at one point we were looking into making it ourselves, but we didn’t have anyone trained with that experience,” he said.
Linik said the market has been selling an average of 600 packets of fresh sushi a day since operations began at the start of Spring Semester. This is up from about 150 packets of Sushi-do sushi sold at other dining facilities on campus.
“I had some of the older sushi before, but this is the first time I’ve had this,” said Ray Lanham, a graduate student in social work on Wednesday. “It’s pretty good. I think there’s more to it, so it’s a little bit more filling. I think they’ve done pretty well.”
Over winter break, accommodations were made in the market for sushi preperation including installing more electrical outlets, counter and storage space, and refrigeration, among others.
Karri Benishek, the marketing director for University Residences and Dining Services, said the ability to see the sushi being produced makes a difference.
“There’s a visibility factor to having the (Sushi With Gusto employees) here, obviously you can tell they know how to make sushi, and you’re seeing them make it where previously it was just available in the grab-and-go,” Benishek said.
Linik said Sushi With Gusto employees will accommodate special orders as well.
“They do it in house, they have their own people, they (make) it and put it out. They do the customer service,” Linik said. “If anybody wants something special, they do it for them which is very different from what we had.”
Prices range from $4 to $11, which is comparable to the former grab-and-go sushi available in the Union Market, but the quality and freshness is better, Linik said.
“With bringing the product in as we have in the past, we were set at a limited number of products because we had to make sure we used them, and the benefit of bringing (Sushi With Gusto) is we have more flexibility to bring additional products because they’re basically making them to order. We’ll be able to monitor and keep costs at a minimum for students,” Benishek said.
There are about 20 different varieties of sushi on rotation day-to-day in the new display in the southwest corner of the market.
“I thought it was pretty good, and I’m not a seafood person, so that’s actually pretty surprising,” said Leah Simkoff, a first-year in accounting on Wednesday.
Simkoff heard about the new sushi through a friend and plans on trying it again.
First-year in exploration Meredith Moller heard about the new addition through friends on social media.
“I thought it was pretty good – pretty good for the Union. I’m from New Jersey, and sushi is really big there, so it doesn’t compare to Jersey sushi, but it was pretty good,” Moller said.
Other schools using Sushi With Gusto’s services include Texas Tech University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Michigan, Ball State University and Cornell University, according to the Sushi With Gusto website.