The next time you have a serious craving for sushi — and a lunch
date with your vegetarian buddy — consider Manpuku. This smallish
sushi restaurant in Berkeley's Elmwood District offers a smattering of
fish-free nigiri, noodles, and rolls. There's the standard
veggie-roll fare — tried (and, truthfully, tired) veggie bailouts
like cucumber and avocado rolls — but the menu includes vegetable
rolls so delightful in taste and originality that even the biggest fish
lover might find themselves ordering a vegetarian maki (or two).
The Elmwood roll (named for the restaurant's location) is filled with
spinach and shiitake mushrooms, and has a sweet and chewy taste and
texture. The undeniable gem is the delicious Tropical Maki roll, made
with tempura asparagus and mango. While there might be a line for a
table or counter seat, it's usually a short one, and it's definitely
worth your wait. Aside from fast service (orders are placed before you
take your seat), the sizable rolls are so low-priced — $2 to $7
— that it's almost like you're dining in a time warp.