HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

over rated

f
fishhead Aug 14, 2001 01:08 AM

Some over rated restaurants
Restaurants that have received good reviews but dont
merit them. I wonder if they paid the reviewers off.
1)Clio - boston
2)Blue room - kendall square
3)Torch- beacon hill
4)Ginza - brookline and china town

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. c
    Chandra RE: fishhead Aug 14, 2001 09:24 AM

    I was just curious as to what about these restaurants make them, in your opinon, lack the merit to be linked to such good reviews? What about them didn't you like--if there was a specific reason...

    1. j
      Joanie RE: fishhead Aug 14, 2001 09:37 AM

      I'm not enough of a sushi expert to know about Ginza, it seemed fine to me. I agree with Clio, it's okay but doesn't live up to the hype and the prices. But I've had two great meals at Torch with really nice service and recommend it to people a lot. Have only had brunch and an hors d'oeuvre at the Blue Room in the last couple of years, but it was fine, and there's something about that place I just like. I think Biba's kind of overrated, but nothing else really jumps into mind.

      1. m
        Maura RE: fishhead Aug 14, 2001 10:45 AM

        I don't think the Blue Room is overated. I was just there on Sunday and it was delicious. The service was good and I like the ever-changing menu. They put together flavors that I would never think to and everything comes out great. The desserts could have been better though.

        1. a
          Alan H RE: fishhead Aug 14, 2001 11:09 AM

          Can't really agree that the Blue Room is over rated. maybe a little overpriced, but the food ranges from very good to AMAZING.

          Just curious, what are YOUR favorite places?

          1. k
            Kitty RE: fishhead Aug 14, 2001 04:50 PM

            IMHO - Ginza remains the best place for late night sushi!

            24 Replies
            1. re: Kitty
              g
              galleygirl RE: Kitty Aug 14, 2001 06:06 PM

              Definitely the best place for late nite sushi, 2am on weeknites, 4 am on weekends, but their prices are way high because of it...I've always liked 'em, but now I wouldn't go anytime BUT late nite...

              1. re: Kitty
                e
                Eric Eto RE: Kitty Aug 14, 2001 07:36 PM

                Late night sushi is about the only thing it offers. As far a quality japanese food, it's not. It really surprises me that Ginza is the best a city like Boston has to offer. It probably wouldn't even make the top 50 Japanese restaurants in cities like LA, NYC, or SF. The flavors are often flat or off. The miso soup tends to lack the correct flavor -- a bad sign for any japanese place. Although the sushi isn't terrible, it's just your average gringo-ized fare. As far as late night sushi is concerned, I think I prefer Gyuhama, but for me, that's still pretty slim pickin'.

                1. re: Eric Eto
                  a
                  Alan H RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 09:44 AM

                  First of all, IMHO Ginza is NOT the best Boston has to offer. Second, as is usually the case with the Boston vs. NY or LA argument-- one can usually assume that where there is a much larger population there will be more choices. Since NY, LA and SF have significantly larger Japanese populations I would naturally expext them to have a better selection of Japanese restaurants, not to mention that most of the sushi bars in Boston are Korean-run.

                  1. re: Alan H
                    e
                    Eric Eto RE: Alan H Aug 15, 2001 12:41 PM

                    You're right that the comparison of Boston to LA/NY/SF is a bit unfair, but it's not unreasonable. There is a significant enough japanese population in the area, that would warrant a better array of choices, and perhaps there are now (I moved to NY last year -- the lack of Japanese food playing a factor in my decision). Johnny Quest's post seems to indicate that there are some new promising places. My disappointment has been that many japanese restaurateurs have found it good enough to serve mediocre fare to cater to an otherwise unsavvy local palate for the cuisine. I got to know a number of the people who worked in the food stalls at the Porter Exchange, which doesn't serve the greatest stuff, but what they do serve is very japanese in flavor (most of the cooks there aren't really trained chefs, but expats familiar enough with the food to make it consistently). When I asked them where they go for a fantastic japanese meal, they told me that they don't because it doesn't really exist in Boston. I've also been told that many sushi places in Boston use red food dye to make the tuna glisten more, since most locals think the shinier the better. It really does seem all about shortcuts in Boston. But I get the sense that it could be changing for the better.

                    1. re: Eric Eto
                      j
                      jonny quest RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 02:02 PM

                      Eric, have you tried Sugiyama at 251 west 55th in NYC? The owner, Nao Sugiyama, is a world-class kaiseki chef. I've included a link below that gives a decent explanation of what kaiseki is. In short it is a meal that consists of many small, beautifully presented, courses.

                      I strongly recommend that you sit at the counter so that you can see Nao at work. He is a friendly man that really cares about your enjoyment. This is a meal that takes time to eat and Nao makes sure that you never feel rushed.

                      It also has a terrific selection of sakes. The meal is expensive (~$150 per person including sake and tip) but well worth the experience. Keep in mind that $150/person gets you 9 courses, a $50 bottle of sake and the attention of a kaiseki master for 2 to 3 hours. The place is small, so call for a reservation. Nao told me that it has to be small because the whole point of kaiseki is hospitality, and if a restaurant is too big the chef can't pay enough attention to each of his customers.

                      This is the type of Japanese experience I'd like to see in Boston, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

                      But in the mean time I'm happy going to Toraya in Arlington for sushi and sashimi. It's not a world-class restaurant like Sugiyama, but it doesn't pretend to be. It is a small sushi restaurant owned by a couple that are determined to go well beyond what other sushi restaurants are doing in Boston.
                      Eric, have you tried Sugiyama at 251 west 55th in NYC? The owner, Nao Sugiyama, is a world-class kaiseki chef. I've included a link below that gives a decent explanation of what kaiseki is. In short it is a meal that consists of many small, beautifully presented, courses.

                      I strongly recommend that you sit at the counter so that you can see Nao at work. He is a friendly man that really cares about your enjoyment. This is a meal that takes time to eat and Nao makes sure that you never feel rushed.

                      It also has a terrific selection of sakes. The meal is expensive (~$150 per person including sake and tip) but well worth the experience. Keep in mind that $150/person gets you 9 courses, a $50 bottle of sake and the attention of a kaiseki master for 2 to 3 hours. The place is small, so call for a reservation. Nao told me that it has to be small because the whole point of kaiseki is hospitality, and if a restaurant is too big the chef can't pay enough attention to each of his customers.

                      This is the type of Japanese experience I'd like to see in Boston, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

                      But in the mean time I'm happy going to Toraya in Arlington for sushi and sashimi. It's not a world-class restaurant like Sugiyama, but it doesn't pretend to be. It is a small sushi restaurant owned by a couple that are determined to go beyond what other sushi restaurants are doing in Boston.

                      Link: http://japanesefood.about.com/library...

                      1. re: Eric Eto
                        f
                        fishhead RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 02:17 PM

                        I think that is the reason I am so critical of restaurants in boston. I am comparing them to those
                        in NYC SF and LA. Some of the best sushi i everhad
                        was in this small sushi place in San Diego called
                        pacific beach sushi. So when you compare to what they
                        have to offer in Boston you become disappointed.

                        1. re: fishhead
                          j
                          Jonny Quest RE: fishhead Aug 15, 2001 02:28 PM

                          I lived in Seattle and the sushi was terrific, lots of exotic shellfish. I loved sitting at the suhi bar (and i'm sorry but I can't remember the name of the place) and watching the sushi chef preparing food for the japanese businessmen. If something looked good all you had to do was ask for the same thing. I wish I knew what half of it was! But the best part was the Karaoke; imagine watching drunk Japanese business men singing "take me home country road to the place I was born....." It was awesome!

                        2. re: Eric Eto
                          a
                          Alan H RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 02:51 PM

                          Fair enough, although I probably could have stated what I was trying to say in a better way:
                          since there are way more people in NY, there is the opportunity for there to be more Japanese restaurants. While there may be some better ones, there are some awfully horrible places in NY too. In fact the WORST sushi I ever had was just a few weeks ago in NYC (Can't remember the name).
                          There are some great sushi bars in the Boston area, many of which do not receive their due notice, such as Hiro Sushi in Natick. I just don't think it's fair to make the comparison you are trying to make.

                          1. re: Alan H
                            g
                            galleygirl RE: Alan H Aug 15, 2001 04:37 PM

                            Just had to weigh in with MY favorite of the underrated sushi bars, Takeshima in Coolidge Corner in Brookline...Little, very reasonable, great sushi chefs who love to introduce you to treats,(yes, I had ankimo there for the first time, now they tell me right away whether they have it...)and a quality and authenticity that one of my native Japanese friends says make it his favorite in Boston, and another friend who served in Okinawa says they hit everything she's tried spot-on...

                            1. re: galleygirl
                              j
                              JPlainRay RE: galleygirl Aug 15, 2001 05:44 PM

                              There is a sushi place in JP on Centre Street called JP Seafood (I think) it's across from the Dunkin Donuts. They also have a small Seafood Market there where I buy fish sometimes. I have never eaten there since I prefer my fish cooked but the place seems really nice. Has anyone eaten there?

                              1. re: JPlainRay
                                g
                                galleygirl RE: JPlainRay Aug 15, 2001 06:01 PM

                                I have eaten there several times; it's fine if it's in your neighborhood, but I wouldn't go out of my way. They do some Korean stuff, but their haidupbap was totally boring. I thought their sushi and sashimi were high-priced for what they were,(mundane, and lackluster presentation...) but they do a nice yosenabe(sp?), seafood and noodle soup....My verdict? If I lived within walking distance, I'd go there...Ooooh, and the service is always pretty disjointed...Like, ya know, this isn't their REAL job....

                            2. re: Alan H
                              e
                              Eric Eto RE: Alan H Aug 15, 2001 04:40 PM

                              One of my expat friends at the Porter Exchange mentioned to me a place in the Framingham area he thought was quite good. Perhaps Hiro Sushi would be it. Now we're onto something. I'll remind myself of Hiro and Toraya next time I'm in the area. I hope all you local chowhounds are getting this.

                              I'm often frustrated that people don't really understand that japanese food consists of many complex items beyond sushi, tempura and teriyaki. I especially got this sense living in Boston that this template ruled the japanese cuisine universe. I hope in due time there will be places where you can try a few hundred varieties of sake, or items on an izakaya menu, or homemade soba and somen noodles, or okonomiyaki and other kansai style food, or kaiseki meals. I hope some savvy restaurateur comes to realize that there exists such a niche and opportunity in the Boston area, but perhaps they're drawn away by the popularity of such mediocre places that still get all the press. I don't think my comparison is all that unfair really. Boston is suppose to be a major metropolitan area, a financial center, and center of academics, and it can't produce a japanese restaurant that's all about the food and not what the locals prefer? I should hope it doesn't remain this way for long.

                              1. re: Eric Eto
                                j
                                Jonny Quest RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 04:51 PM

                                From your lips to the Japanese Food Gods ears!

                                1. re: Eric Eto
                                  a
                                  Alan H RE: Eric Eto Aug 16, 2001 08:51 AM

                                  Could be Hiro, that's my favorite in the area, and they have a vast menu that goes well beyond the standard fare.
                                  There are a couple of pretty good places in Framingham--Wasabi, and Shogun 9, but I think Hiro is better than either. Let me know what you think after you go.

                                2. re: Alan H
                                  k
                                  Kitty RE: Alan H Aug 15, 2001 11:19 PM

                                  Where is Hiro Sushi in Natick? I'm always looking for decent suburban sushi! (P.S., Coincidentally, I just spotted Oishii (sp?) Sushi on Boston Post Road in Sudbury, but it was closed at dinner time. It looks small, but I'm anxious to try it.

                                  1. re: Kitty
                                    a
                                    Alan H RE: Kitty Aug 16, 2001 08:48 AM

                                    On Rt. 135, near the Wellesley line.

                                3. re: Eric Eto
                                  d
                                  Dr. Dog RE: Eric Eto Oct 1, 2001 11:37 AM

                                  The comparison of Boston to LA/NY/SF is unfair because the population of Japanese in Boston is primarily students, whereas in those other cities there's a large business population. That just doesn't exist here. Students just don't spend money on food, and the restaurants reflect that.

                                  I'm also not sure why people are so negative about Ginza (at least the Chinatown one). They may not have the range of the NY or LA restaurants, but the fish there is head and shoulders above anyplace else in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, or Brookline. And they are Japanese, at least. I can't vouch for the suburban places; they may be better.

                              2. re: Eric Eto
                                j
                                Jonny Quest RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 09:57 AM

                                Right on Eric!

                                Boston is clueless about good japanese food. My favorite sushi restaurant right is a place I stumbled upon about six months ago. It is a tiny hole in the wall in Arlington called Toraya (890 Massachusetts Ave). Shinji and Tsukiko, the owner and his wife, do a terrific job. I particularly like the specials. Shinji makes an effort to have excellant seasonal delicacies like ankimo (monkfish liver pate), amaebi (sweet shrimp) and REAL toro and cho-toro (tuna belly). They pay attention to presentation, which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the things that makes japanese cuisine so special. Small things like the rice and miso soup are spot on. Also once they know you Shinji might send over a plate of fried flounder bones or some other little appetizer.

                                The place is small ~20 seats plus the sushi bar and it is beging to be discovered (beyond the japanese community) so there is sometimes a wait if you get there between 7 and 9.

                                I've also heard that there is a new japanese restaurant in chestnut hill opened by the sushi chef from Nobu in NYC, but I haven't tried it yet. Somehow I suspect this place is going to be considerably more expensive than Toraya, but I'm interested to see what the place is like.

                                1. re: Jonny Quest
                                  s
                                  Seth Ditchik RE: Jonny Quest Aug 15, 2001 10:47 AM

                                  The place you mention in Chestnut Hill actually isn't new; it's been open for at least two years. It's called Oishii Sushi, and you're right, the chef had worked at Nobu in NYC. By far it's the best sushi I've had in Boston, and it isn't any more expensive than the sushi you'd get elsewhere in Boston--maybe even a little cheaper. The catch is that the restaurant is tiny--there are about ten seats at the bar and a single table that seats four. From what I understand, there is another branch that they've recently opened in Sudbury.

                                  For late-night sushi I'll pass on Ginza and head to Fugakyu, in Brookline. The sushi is good, and the surroundings are considerably more subdued and conducive to conversation than the see-and-be-scene at Ginza. It's open until 2 am.

                                  1. re: Seth Ditchik
                                    j
                                    Jonny Quest RE: Seth Ditchik Aug 15, 2001 02:18 PM

                                    Thank you. :)

                                    I'm looking forward to trying Oishii. As for Fugakyu, I've been and didn't see what the hype was about. But hey that might just be me.

                                    1. re: Jonny Quest
                                      g
                                      galleygirl RE: Jonny Quest Aug 15, 2001 04:38 PM

                                      I totally agree about Fugakyu...What's the big deal?

                                      1. re: galleygirl
                                        s
                                        Seth Ditchik RE: galleygirl Aug 15, 2001 06:15 PM

                                        I don't know if it's a big deal, so much as I like it better than Ginza (the Chinatown branch, anyway). The food won't knock your socks off, but it's certainly on par with what you'd find at Ginza, it's less crowded, and the interior is more pleasant.

                                    2. re: Seth Ditchik
                                      d
                                      David RE: Seth Ditchik Aug 16, 2001 01:39 PM

                                      I had heard about a fabulous place in Chestnut Hill for sushi but couldn't find out the name of it til this list..nice day today..took a bike ride from downtown Boston to Oishii...in a word.."awesome>" far and away the best in Boston..thanks for the tip.

                                  2. re: Eric Eto
                                    k
                                    Kitty RE: Eric Eto Aug 15, 2001 10:27 AM

                                    Gyuhama isn't even open that late at night anymore! We tried to go a couple of weekends ago at 1 a.m. and it was already closed. Ginza is about the only thing going at that hour.

                                Show Hidden Posts