Sushi. It’s what’s for lunch and dinner, especially if I’m in a rush at Whole Foods. But who in this great land of Salem makes the best sushi? The freshest and most mouthwatering nigiri? The heaven-approved hand rolls?
Located in a beautiful historic building at the center of downtown Salem, Sushi 503 serves the best sushi in town. The restaurant is located on the second floor balcony space in the Reed Opera House; it has been renovated to continue its legacy as a versatile hub of activity.
As I entered the building I could see and smell unique locally owned stores, shops, restaurants, bars and bakeries. My first impression was this place is a little bit sketchy, not what I expected of a Sushi restaurant, but it all changed once I got the food I ordered. (Location: check)
The restaurant might not have Japanese vibes, but the foods certainly did. For my first visit, I ordered the Dragon Roll and waited five minutes for my order to be delivered. (Speed of the service: check). The presentation was similar to the picture on the menu which was not disappointing, and the taste was what I expected from a Dragon Roll. I could taste the eel and avocado on top of the sushi as I put it in my mouth, then I felt the crunchy texture of the deep fried shrimp and taste the soft and cold crab salad. I would lean towards the 503, because I could taste all the ingredients unlike other sushi restaurants. And for those of you who doesn’t like to eat sushi, no worries. 503 Sushi also have other food choices like chicken bowl, beef bowl, and many others. One word to describe how I felt was “heaven.” (Food taste: check)
It seemed like the chefs were experienced in the field. I did a little bit of background check of the chefs by asking the waitress, and I found out they had a certificate and 15 years of experience of making sushi (Experience: check).
The restaurant is owned by Kay Lee and his brother Sonny Kim. Lee previously owned 541 Sushi Bar in Eugene with his aunt before he moved to Salem, according to the Salem Statesman Journal. The staff was down to earth as well, and was very open and genuine about their restaurant. One thing I like about 503 Sushi was the name of it that is based on the phone area code, which I thought was very clever.
I was able to pre-order my food before I walked in. 503 Sushi also has a delivery service. They have a website that I can go to and look at descriptions of the menu. (Convenience: check).
The only downfall is the menu does not have the full descriptions of the food, it only shows the picture of what the food looks like.
If my grandmother came and wanted to eat sushi she could just read the description on the menu without having to look for the waiter/waitress or look on their website to find out what she wants. As far as menu goes, the prices on the menu range from $2-$8 which is affordable for poor college students like me who want to eat good sushi. (Price: check)
Overall, 503 Sushi stole my heart at my first visit. I had to go back the next day because I was craving it so much. The view on my first visit was ruby brick, but when I came the next day, I sat by the window and saw beautiful spring vibes from downtown Salem, and I was serenaded with classical jazz music. It was beautiful.
My advice: get vegas rolls, volcano rolls, dragon rolls or the chicken bowl. They’re super delicious.
If I could summarize 503 Sushi bar in five words it would be authentic, fresh, delightful, fast and affordable.