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Cheap eats

By the time Kuni Sato closed his sushi place on Elmwood Avenue last year, he'd earned a legion of fans.

Last month, Kuniphiles rejoiced as the rumors turned out to be true: Kuni is back. His answer to burnout was switching to takeout only, served up from a Lexington Avenue storefront next to the Lexington Food Co-Op's former location.

There, he serves up a stripped-down menu of straightforward sushi, plus a few salads and soups. No dumplings, no tempura and, so far, no specials.

Unless you don't mind the wait, go to kunistogo.com and download the menu. Call in your order or fax it to 881-4800.

Then grab your goods and look for a place to enjoy it. (The general store next door has welcomed Kuni's customers at its table.)

Tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, California and vegetable rolls. There's a few more fish by the piece, plus sea urchin, octopus, squid and more roes, but that's about it. There's no fancy rolls that look like postmodern sculpture here.

His tuna roll ($4) and spicy tuna ($4) were exemplars of the genre, with the right proportion of rice to raw tuna. (However, the spicy tuna had too much heat for the palate of my wife, Kathy.)

The eel-avocado roll ($4) delivered savory richness, and the salmon skin roll ($3.50) offered a savory crunchiness.

Radish pickles ($3) and shiitake mushrooms ($3) centered satisfying vegetarian options, but my little boy Jake was put off by a dash of wasabi in his cucumber roll ($2.75).

Pieces of salmon ($1.75) were buttery on their tidy balls of rice. The tuna pieces ($2) presented decent-sized slices of nearly beefy fish, substantial but not heavy. Striped bass ($2) was satisfying but unremarkable. The mackerel ($1.75) was a highlight, its more assertive flavor welcome by contrast.

Two rolls and a bowl of classically mild miso soup ($1.50) will bring you in under $10, although it's easy to run up the bill in a hurry.

Whether or not it's the best sushi around will depend on your taste, but there's no doubt Kuni's to Go will provoke many happy returns.

-- Andrew Galarneau

Kuni's to Go

226 Lexington Ave.

881-3800

Review: 3 1/2 pennies (Out of 4)

"Happy returns."

Kuni's to Go is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is handicapped-accessible.

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