Sushi Time, an upmarket fast food chain and delivery service, has been rapidly expanding since hitting the crowded Prague restaurant scene a few years ago. Following the success of its initial Karlín bistro and a second location in the Krč business district, Sushi Time opened a ground-floor unit at the highly anticipated Florentinum office complex earlier this month.
“We were looking for a new location in a big office building,” says Ivan Zidek, one of Sushi Time’s three partners, “and I think this is one of the city’s biggest.” Located around the corner from Masarykovo nádraží, Florentinum offers 49,000 square meters of office space over nine floors – exactly the type of clientele Sushi Time is hoping to reach. After all, Zidek says, it is business execs who can afford to order sushi takeout for lunch on a regular basis. However, the expat crowd comes in at a close second. “It was something new for us,” Zidek explains. “About one-third of our customers are expats.”
While Sushi Time’s Florentinum space is furnished with several long wooden tables and benches for in-house cafeteria-style dining (a step up from its tiny Karlín hub, which barely seats 10), the chain’s core business is still its online order-and-delivery service. Sushi Time couriers now cover the city center and many of Prague’s outer boroughs. (A fourth venue, set to open in Smíchov over the summer, will further increase the chain’s catchment area.) Delivery takes about an hour, depending on your location.
Zidek says Penta, the investor behind Florentinum, had a very specific vision for the small food court in its retail gallery. Sushi Time is nestled between a Chop’d salad bar and Rancheros, a Mexican takeaway that emphasizes healthy food choices.
An Italian delicatessen, La Formaggeria, is set to open soon and negotiations are underway with another well-known (and yet-to-be-disclosed) restaurant brand. Penta hopes to open another dining option in the Florentinum gallery by the end of the year, according to Martin Danko, the investor’s PR manager.
“The main purpose of the retail gallery is to provide basic services largely to the tenants of Florentinum, as the full capacity of the office palace is about 3,500 people, which makes rather significant demand for services such as Sushi Time,” says Danko. “In terms of food tenants we have been looking for the providers who could meet the requirements of mainly business people, as Florentinum is an A-class business center.”
Despite its fast-food takeaway status, Sushi Time attempts to delver an A-class image. To that end, its daintily packaged meals come with a set of wooden chopsticks and bottled soy sauce with flashy red screw-top lids.
“We focus on the presentation,” Zidek says. “We want to give our customers an attractive stylish product.”
The Florentinum unit has an open kitchen where a small army of staffers customizes each meal; the eight-piece sushi boxes are trimmed with green and garnished with dollops of wasabi and pickled ginger.
“Everything is prepared fresh,” says Zidek, noting that in today’s health-conscious society “fresh” and “low-carb” are the new buzz words. “We’ve been trying to come up with more sushi options for vegetarians,” he says. The sushi sets feature, for example, Caprese (179 CZK) and Warusawa (115 CZK), a 12-piece combination of cucumbers, avocado, takuan and asparagus.
As a relative sushi novice, I’m taken by the fact that one can order sushi without raw fish. Because, isn’t that the whole point? Zidek shakes his head. The constant ingredient in sushi, he tells me, is the vinegared rice.
Fabulous. The mango sushi, stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon, (199 CZK) was calling my name. Truly, it was like eating candy. I emptied the box in less than five minutes. Now, here’s what’s rarely mentioned about sushi: The typical serving size is not exactly filling.
But the good news is that there’s more on the menu here than just sushi. The chain offers a number of wok dishes, including white fish curry (198 CZK), Pad Thai with chicken and prawns (125 CZK) and udon noodles with tofu (130 CZK). You can also order soups and salads as well as deserts. While many items are mainstays, Sushi Time does like to add seasonal specialties to the mix.
“We try and bring something new every three months,” Zidek says. With summer coming, Zidek and his team are highlighting light and airy meals, like salads and citrus-y blends like the mango sushi box. When it’s autumn, they’ll turn to warm curries for inspiration. “The menu is connected to the season,” he says.
Zidek gives a slight chuckle when asked about his favorite menu item. “I don’t eat sushi,” he admits conspiratorially. “Really when you are around it all day, it gets to be a little much. I usually go to another restaurant for lunch.”
With its roots in Bratislava circa 2010, Sushi Time moved to Prague the following year and expects to open a few more locations around the Czech capital before branching onto the Austrian market in the not too distant future.
Sushi Time – Florentinum
Na Florenci 15, Prague 1
Phone: 224 829 390
Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am to 8pm
What is your favorite sushi set?