Sunrise Asian Cuisine is a great restaurant to eat cheap sushi, but it's even better as a restaurant to test your dining companion's character. An uptight, square person will be alarmed by things they may have heard while dining at Sunrise Asian Cuisine, such as "We've lost our liquor license" or "We ran out of salmon." They will be suspicious of the restaurant's food "happy hour" deal, which actually lasts for 16 hours, and the quality of the raw fish they're getting at a price so cheap. They will be annoyed that it takes the waiters forever to bring out the food, even when the restaurant is empty. And if you're friends with one of those super-squares who insists on vetting Sunrise through Yelp, there's a chance they may ignore the restaurant's many positive reviews and fret on the one review that says a whole table got food poisoning, or the one that says they found a bug in the water, or the one that says the women's restrooms were out of toilet paper for two hours and nobody cared.
But if your dining companions are chill, they will see the opportunities. With no liquor license, Sunrise readily accommodates requests for 10 cups full of ice while someone in your party runs next door to buy a handle of whiskey. The wait allows you to spend a really long time talking to your friends without being interrupted. And the quality of the sushi seems to be OK. After surviving multiple meals of Sunrise's recently discontinued (NOOOOOO) all-you-can-eat sushi roll special, I still haven't noticed any visible symptoms of mercury poisoning.
Sunrise Asian Cuisine sits next to Lower Greenville's Taco Cabana but pushed back, on Alta Avenue, in the spot where Nandina's used to be. In addition to sushi, the menu offers every kind of Asian food you would possibly want, including generous banh mi sandwiches for $5. What makes this restaurant really special is that it's open until 3 in the morning, and the happy hour food menu is available from 11 a.m. until 2:45 a.m. Good deals from the happy hour menu include a generous plate of sashimi for $15 and California rolls for $4.
Up until a few weeks ago, Sunrise offered a $14.99 all-you-can eat special for its sushi rolls, every night of the week. It was not a scam. Every round of plates they brought out had lots of sushi rolls on them, and none of the waiters seemed to care when I stopped eating the rice and just scooped out the fish in the middle. They also happily complied with our request for a large "ice cream scoop" of wasabi, which was used to create a concoction with soy sauce that made people cry. Unable to finish the third round of sushi rolls on my first visit there, I snuck some in a napkin and had them for breakfast the next day. It was unprofessional, and I apologize.
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For reasons they won't discuss, but maybe having to do with some of the scenarios mentioned above, they've stopped offering the beloved all-you-can special. But there are still plenty of cheap sushi options available until almost-dawn. The most generous, drunkest sushi rolls they sell are called volcano rolls. At $11.95, they're one of the more expensive rolls, but keep in mind this plate of food seems to be somewhere in the ballpark of 1,000 calories when you eat it. The rolls are filled with some kind of fish that looks and tastes like it's probably crab, but nobody cares. These rolls are good because they're covered in scallops, fried stuff, Sriracha sauce and mayonnaise.
As mentioned above, some people have not been as enthusiastic about Sunrise. One day, when the all-you-can eat deal was still offered, it took about an hour and a half for our first round of rolls to arrive to the table. During another meal, a woman was disturbed that her sushi card had the name "Bianca" written at the top, with the boxes for two rolls already checked off. We don't know who Bianca is or what happened to her order.
Still, there's a major risk that Sunrise will only ruin itself if it gets its act together. They promise that their liquor license will be back soon, which hopefully is a lie, because the BYOB policy is cheaper and more fun. There's also a bigger sashimi plate that costs around $30, which is not a good idea because no one needs that much discounted raw fish. It being a Dallas restaurant, there's the inherent risk that they may one day get pretentious, more expensive and eventually require valet parking. Don't let that happen. Know your drunk, poor, sushi-loving customer base, Sunrise Asian Cuisine, and please consider bringing back the all-you-can-eat special.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.