Banana & Leaf Offers Good Grab-and-Go Sushi Downtown

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Banana & Leaf is a no-frills sushi place offering basic rolls at insanely cheap prices. This is a great new spot for downtowners in need of a quick raw fish fix, and it's by the same crew behind Little Lotus, experts at making a restaurant something out of nothing (if you haven't been to Little Lotus, go, and you'll see what we mean).

It's clean and cute, with plenty of seating packed into a small space, giving you the choice to sit down or to grab a to-go box of spicy tuna or snow crab rolls; right now they are having an opening special -- two for $5, can't beat that. The sushi bar menu is limited, with offerings ranging from a "Honeymoon" combo of barbecue eel with radish and lotus root over rice ($7.99) to the simple "Nobita" box, including an eight-piece tuna and avocado roll with four pieces of tuna nigiri ($8.99). The fish is fresh and although the crab is all imitation, there's no strangely discolored tuna or sad examples of brown avocado in sight.

Now, this is (in our humble opinion) more of a lunch pit-stop, not exactly the right ambiance for date night. And, it's in a strange area (234 NE 3rd St.), located on a street plagued by construction, but you can pay to park in the public lots on Biscayne and walk on over.

The "Crazy Love" ($7.99) has salmon, tuna, shrimp, eel and whitefish, with a sprinkling of masago and sesame seeds on top. There are some fish flakes hiding underneath, giving the rice a nice salty surprise.

Cure a "Hang Over" ($6.99) with a bowl of chopped tuna, salmon and avocado over rice. Although the spicy mayo is tasty, we thought perhaps this was an example where less of it would have worked better.

The grab-and-go section's seaweed and octopus salads, spicy tuna and crab rolls and edamame -- perhaps a sushi picnic in Bicentennial Park?

A dessert of pumpkin custard reminded us of a sweet version of tamago dofu. Initially, our taste-buds were confused, but every bite grew on us and suddenly, the whole thing was gone.

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