Locals jam into Bennett's Sushi & Lounge tighter than ingredients in a futomaki. They pack a chopstick-to-chopstick setting for slicings by chefs who starred at the departed Sea Cliff Sushi Co.

The storefront at the railroad station once housed Bin 23, a wine bar and restaurant. The wall of spirits now is opposite a perpetual-motion sushi stage. Near some wine bottles on the bar is a copy of Nelson DeMille's "The Gate House." A sushi roll is named for the author, who immortalized a certain Bennett the bartender in his fiction.

Bennett's is dominated by an oversize, black-and-white photo of the Flatiron district, landmark at the center. But the big picture is provided by chefs Roy Kurniawan, Danny Diastika, Richard Lee and Joseph Wang.


THE BEST

Sushi rolls carry titles such as "Lock Jaw" and "The Trust Fund," and take clubby side trips to Brookville, Piping Rock and the Creek. That DeMille roll could be Cecil B.'s namesake: a spectacle with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avocado and roe, wrapped in a soybean sheet. The Trust Fund cashes in with spicy crab, eel and capelin roe. And "Big Mac" assists with spicy tuna, snow crab, avocado, bonito flakes and flying-fish roe. None is exactly harmonious. But they all taste good. Sit at the sushi bar to enjoy the fast-paced handiwork, as the team puts together a snappy tortilla-thin "tuna pizza," topped with avocado, cilantro, jalapeño pepper and Cajun-seasoned mayo. The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeños and yuzu soy sauce also stands out. Respectable nigirizushi, too.


THE REST

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Satisfactory miso soup and steamed shrimp dumplings; dull pork dumplings; and some extremely overorchestrated rolls, including the "Brookville" with strawberry and the "Seawanhaka" with Cajun-style shrimp. Dreary desserts, from Key lime pie to chocolate-fudge cake.


BOTTOM LINE

Raw fish among friends.