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Looking for Japanese recommendations in Boston area

  • b

I've decided I'm going to go on a Japanese diet for a few weeks to lose a few pounds (trust me, it's bound to be lower-calorie than my current diet). But I want to have a tasty time at it.

So what are the Japanese restaurants and sushi bars I should seek out? I already know about Porter Square, but I'd like to branch out. I live in the Harvard Square area right now, but will travel by public transportation! Brookline and places off the Red Line are ideal.

Try to keep it under $30 for dinner and $20 for lunch. Thanks!

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  1. h
    hiddenboston

    Takeshima on Harvard Street has decent sushi and dinner entrees. It's maybe a block or two north of Coolidge Corner.

    Also, for Japanese hot pot, try Shabu Zen in Chinatown. It's a fun eating experience--you have your food cooked right at your table.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      I highly recommend against Takeshima. I used to go there a lot in the past, but based on an experience I had this Summer, I'd never go back.

      The total lack of customers on a Saturday evening should've been a red flag, but we went in anyway. The place reeks of rotting fish and there's a distinct odor of urine coming from the back (from the bathrooms, I'd hope). When the staff goes to take a smoke in the alley, the smoke wafts in.

      As far as the food, it ranged from OK to awful. The high-calorie stuff (tempura) was pretty good. The sushi was just plain gross... not fresh at all. I choked down a couple pieces out of politeness but not without worry for my health. Definitely avoid this place.

      1. re: rxrfrx

        That's a shame to hear about Takeshima. Years ago, I think it might have been the only Japanese place in Coolidge Corner, and I used to go there often. I do agree that the quality has gone south somewhat in the past couple of years, but my more recent experiences were nowhere as bad as yours.

        I did notice cigarette smoke coming in from propped-open doors, and couldn't help but wonder what critters were waltzing into the place as well as every time I walked down that side alley to the big parking lot in back, that side door seemed to be propped open.

      2. re: hiddenboston

        As for Shabu Zen, it's fun, but not great. If you've eaten Shabu Shabu in Japan or at more authentic spots (L.A., NYC) - watch out. You'll be disappointed. Food quality is fine, taste is bland. I've been 2X and they didn't offer dipping sauces??!!??

        1. re: pkbos

          Will disagree re Shabu Zen, which is the best shabu place Boston has to offer and is a place I've enjoyed.

          1. re: bachslunch

            i LOVE shabuzen. my friends and i grew up eating shabushabu back in asia and this one is the best boston has to offer. it is much higher quality than most of them you'll find in LA & NYC

          2. re: pkbos

            Shabu Zen is definitely the best shabu in Boston - I have had both better and worse in LA.

            You do have to ask for the sesame dipping sauce, but they are always happy to provide it.

        2. Sushi 21 on Mt. Auburn St., Watertown. #71 bus from Harvard Sq. stops almost in front.

          Link: http://www.sushi-21.com/lunch.php

          1. Check out Umi, on peterborough.... I belive the 55 bus goes right by there, and its right off of the Fenway stop on the D line.

            1. Mr. Sushi in Arlington Center (Bus #77/79 Harvard or Alewife) is reliably good and reasonable. Hana sushi in N. Cambridge is pretty good too, though I haven't been there in the past few months.

              1. Lunch boxes are cheap (12 for sushi, 17 for tons of Sashimi) at Oishii in Chestnut hill and this place by far has the best sushi around. You can get there by D line T to chestnut hill, and a 5 minute walk.

                Also the food in general is amazing.

                -Tz

                4 Replies
                1. re: Tzonis

                  I was gonna say Oishii (great deal for a huge lunch box) but it's not easily accessible from Harvard. Coolidge Corner is easy because of the 66 Bus.

                  If the OP wants to get on the D line, by all means, this a great recommendation.

                  1. re: rxrfrx
                    h
                    hiddenboston

                    Oishii is so good that it's probably worth the hassle to take the Green Line to the Chestnut Hill/Longwood stop. It's a tiny place, though, so seating could be tough, depending on when you go.

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Will second Oishii in Chestnut Hill, which I think is still the best standard sushi place locally. O-ya, Oishii Boston, and Uni (sashimi only) are excellent for upscale sushi/sashimi.

                  2. re: Tzonis

                    i second oiishi. best sashimi in town