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Oishii Boston

We stopped by tonight to try out the new location on Washington Street. At 7:30p we were seated immediately at the sushi bar. We were told it would be 30 min for a table, but it looked like there were several open tables. I was surprised at how large the space is, there are about 15 seats at the sushi bar, and tables on two levels. The design is minimalist with stone floors, but it works for the space. The AC was a bit lacking, the sushi friges on the bar were all sweating. They have a nifty new logo on the door and chopsticks holders. In fact, look for the O on the door or the valet sign, or you will drive right by. We found a spot right in front withour problem and parked there. I am not sure I would be totally comfortable wondering where the valet was taking my car in that neighborhood.

The food was good, but not great. I think they are still working out running such a large kitchen and sushi bar (compared with the Chestnut Hill) location. The fish was excellent as usual for Oishii, We started with sashimi (Tuna, Yellowtail, Snapper, Toro, Escolar, Wild Salmon). The pieces were avarage size, they could have been bigger for our tastes (and the price). There are many new menu items, but they will make any of the special Makis from the Chestnut Hill location on request. We had the White Tiger maki (Tuna, roe and cucumber rolled in white seaweed) which was fantastic, and the Oiishi maki ($25!) which was just OK. We ended up with several of the spicy handrolls wrapped in cuke. These tasted good, but were not prepared correctly, the cuke was too thin to hold the top heave rolls. One of them dumped out as the server set it down. She asked if we wanted a new one. Ummm, yes, for $9/per...definitely.

The service was a bit spotty, but that will take time with the new location. Our sashimi originally came out as sushi and had to be redone, and they got one of the rolls wrong. We did not mind as we were having a slow meal, but they need to get it down before it gets really crowded there. One new twist that is definitely not going to work is the soy sauce distribution. A server comes around and pours soy sauce into their new fancy finger bowls. There is no soy sauce on the sushi bar or tables. Of course we ran out and had to wait for the server before we could continue eating. This was mildly annoying. One thing they did get right is bringing wasabi and ginger in advance of the food. I like to get my wasabi mix going right away, so it has opened up by the time the fish comes.

The bar was not yet fully stocked. The only beers available were Heineken, Heineken Light and Amstel? They said the Asahi was "coming".

Our bill was $150 with tip (2 beers on top of the food) which was fairly steep for comparable meals in other places. It will be interesting to see how this place does. The location is really not great or convenient, I was somewhat surprised they could not find a better location for an in-town outpost. You have to drive or take a cab (even if you live in town). It would be nice if they were even up near Shawmut or Tremont. I will pass on strolling through Peters Park after dark (someone ws murdered there last week). With the prices as high as they are, I think it will limit their walk in business from the immediate neighborhood. This may be an issue, as they have a lot of seats to fill.

We were excited to try the new Oishii, but in the future will probably bypass it for Douzo which is really our new go to place. We also had our first meal in awhile at Fugakyu last week. It was as good as ever with HUGE pieces of sashimi. Fugakyu is a much better value than Oishii or Douzo.

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  1. After months of anticipating its opening, we also had dinner last night at Oishii 2. Although the food was quite good, the experience was a let down on the whole. While I assume that Oishii will end up being successful on Washington St., it never will – nor does it aspire to – replicate the special experience of dining at Oishii in Chestnut Hill.

    Oishii in Chestnut Hill has always been a treasured place for me. Based on recommendations from this board, I first visited it before it received widespread acclaim (in Zagat and the like). As a graduate student living in Cambridge without a car, I made the long trek out to Chestnut Hill to be rewarded with some of the most remarkable Japanese food – sushi in particular – that I had ever tasted. Over the ensuing years, I have become a loyal fan. While at times the wait seems unbearable, I have always appreciated the process of scribbling my name on the pad of paper, waiting semi-patiently as they move down the list, and finally securing my lucky spot among the roughly 20 people that can dine at any given moment. Sitting at the sushi bar in Oishii is a special feeling indeed – one that is often rewarded with a culinary adventure that one remembers long after the evening concludes.

    While I was hoping – and expecting – that Oishii’s South End location would expand on this spirit, Oishii 2 seems to represent an entirely different concept. This difference was noticeable from the moment we entered. While we were initially impressed by the sleek (and large) restaurant, this was quickly replaced by the shocking realization that the hostess had never been to Oishii in Chestnut Hill (“I hear it is good, but much smaller.”). In fact, this became a recurring themes– few employees we interacted with seemed ever to have set foot in the original Oishii.

    We quickly realized that Oishii 2 was Oishii in name only. As my wife suggested, a far more appropriate name would have been “Sobu” – SOWA meets Nobu. The food was admittedly quite good and the wine list expansive (ranging from $29-200 bottles). Similar to Duozo, Oishii 2 offers skewers and tempura by the piece, and will prepare favorites from the original Oishii (at a 25-50% markup over Chestnut Hill prices).

    On the whole, however, I doubt I’ll be heading back soon. I’d prefer to think of Oishii as a special hole-in-the-wall in Chestnut Hill rather than the newest hip entrant onto the SOWA dining scene. While many will flock to its new South End digs, I look forward to returning to Chestnut Hill and dining at a restaurant that is truly special to me.

    1. The Chestnut Hill location is, in my mind, the best sushi in the Boston area. Is the South End place the best sushi in Boston proper? Sounds like it's quite different from the original, but if it is the best i will happily go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jajjguy

        I will reserve final judgement until I have tried Oishii Boston a few more times when they have had time to work out the kinks. However, as of now I would say that Douzo is the best sushi in Boston proper, with Oishii being second. I am not considering Uni in this equation. While a great place in its own right at which I have enjoyed several meals, I do not consider Uni a traditional sushi restaurant. I lived next door to Uni from the time it opened through this summer, and we usually treked to Brookline or Chestnut Hill (until Douzo opened) on a weekly basis when we wanted our sashimi and maki fix.

      2. For what it's worth, they seem to be referring to the new location as "Oishii Boston." "Oishii Too" (not "two") is in the "Mill Village" on Route 20 in Sudbury. See http://www.oishiisushi.com/frame_engl....

        BK

        1. After months of anticipating its open, four of us went to dinner at Oishii on Washington Street last week. For starts, I am still trying to figure out why on earth they covered the windows with "chicken wire" like material, blocking out almost all of the light. As we waited for a table, I struggled to see the sake list as it was so dark in bar area. Too dark.

          They are obviously not going for a warm, homey feel. The cement walls and floors are minimalistic, which is fine, but it creates a formal/clublike atmosphere--I felt like you had to be dressed. As for the sushi, I agree with all above, it was delicious, but at $25-$30 a roll (that's 8 pieces mind you) it better be. Overall, I am sure that I will go back, but had they stuck with the Chestnut Hill concept and prices, I would be back more often. Another South End restaurant with New York prices.

          1. oishii boston...what the?!?!?

            my fiance used to live around the corner from oishii in chestnut hill and we used to order take-out from there all the time. when we heard they were opening a location in the south end, we were psyched to have oishii a short 3 min. walk away again. after much anticipation he picked up a take-out menu last night and brought it home with the intention of having a nice sushi dinner in. we took one look at the menu and were floored. sushi, at one piece per order, ranged from $3 to $10. sashimi is two pieces per order for an additional $4!! so if we wanted one piece of maguro sushi each, it would cost us $10, or $9 for each of us to have one slice of maguro sashimi. the maki rolls aren't any better, ranging from $10 (japanese yam tempura maki) to $30 (kobe beef maki), the majority of them being fancy, "complicated" rolls that i feel tend to mask the flavor of the fish. cold and hot apps are $6 (edemame) to $28 (seared o-toro sashimi). they serve entrees too, but i'm not going to even go there. i have the menu in front of me right now, so i'm not exaggerating the prices.

            what is going on?? when my fiance went in to get the menu he asked the host if it was the same place as in chestnut hill. she firmly answered that it was the same owner, but the restaurant, concept, and food were all completely different. i'm not one to complain about high prices. i understand the value of the combination of fantastic ingredients, innovative cuisine, great service and ambiance, in a swanky part of town. but this is a sushi restaurant in a sometimes seedy part of the south end, not in a bustling hip area downtown. i can't vouge for the quality because we obviously didn't order from there (i'm a grad student with a somewhat limited budget). i'm sure the quality of their ingredients is top notch, but the prices they are asking are just too much, even for the south end. i know there is a lot of money to be spent in this neighborhood, but i don't think even the rich people will see much value in a $25 maki roll. then again, i'm not one of the rich residents so i can't accurately predict the neighborhood reaction.

            am i just mad that my hopes of my favorite sushi spot coming to my neighborhood have been dashed? am i just bitter that yet another high-priced restaurant that regular neighborhood folk like myself won't be able to frequent has moved in next door? my answer is yes to both, but am i the only one who thinks this is a bit ridiculous? i hope not...

            1. Although I can't afford to eat at Oishii Boston regularly, I just want to put in a few words of clarification. If I recall correctly (because the website prices are outdated), 2 pieces of bluefin maguro sushi at the original Oishii cost $9 the last time I was there. "The Maki" was over $20 ($23?). If you look at it from that perspective, the prices for these two items are a whopping 10% more than the original Oishii. OMG! WTF?

              Oishii Boston is certainly a different experience than the original Oishii. From my perspective, it's a little like the difference between chowhound and foodie. If you want the original Oishii experience, just go to the original Oishii. The differences between the two are intentional, which is why many of the menu items on the original Oishii menu are not available at Oishii Boston.

              As for the prices, one might instead go to those bastions of value such as Pho Republique or Stella, which are further down on Washington. Or not. Location does have to be considered, though. That's why I still go to Charlie's and Flour, even if I could get cheaper breakfast or pastries by driving 20 minutes out of town.

              Young-Ho

              1. Here is some further clarification on the issue of being intentionally different. Perhaps it was because they recognized me from the Chestnut Hill location. However, the staff behind the sushi bar went out of their way to stress that they would be making any and all items off the Chestnut Hill location on request.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gabatta

                  1. Ting San himself said that he intentionally made the menu different at Oishii Boston and that all menu items would not be available. 2. A sentence on the original menu stating that maki from the Chestnut Hill Oishii were available by request was removed from the menu within a week of opening. 3. A request for the baby hamachi with jalapeno appetizer from the Chestnut Hill Oishii was possible on July 16th but not on July 22nd.

                  Go back and see whether any and all items are truly available on request. Good luck.

                  1. re: youngho

                    That is interesting as it was Ting San himself who stressed the availability of all items when we were there. Again, as previously stated, perhaps this was because we are regulars at the Chestnut Hill location, and certain requests will be denied to others. Maybe they were out of baby hamachi when you were there. Who knows. I am not trying to argue on this point, just stating what my experience was.

                    That being said, if they have suddenly decided to change a few things, I am hopeful. I think it would be a great idea for them to do a 180 degree turn on some decisions relating to this restaurant:

                    1. Prices
                    2. Size of sashimi pieces
                    3. Silly soy sauce valet

                2. Walked in last night (Thursday) at 9:30 and were happy to discover that they were still serving and it was easy to get a table (though we chose the sushi bar).

                  The entire experience was very Manhattan. Sleek look. High Prices. Was surprised at how extensive the menu was. All the fish was very good and fresh. Tried a few of their signature rolls, which sounded very interesting. ranged from excellent to average in terms to tasting particularily innovative (but again, everything very fresh and good).

                  I was also thrown off by the soy sauce valet. the good news is that many of the rolls come with their own specific sauce, so dipping in soy is not needed (and probably not intended).

                  I'll definitely be back...though at that price, for raw fish, I remain an Uni fan.

                  1. Maybe they're just adjusting the pricing/menu(/soy service) to fit the downtown costs.

                    1. Like others above, I'm an Oishii Chestnut Hill devotee. I tried Oishii Boston twice last week. It is indeed more expensive and an entirely different experience. It is not really a "chowhound" kind of place, except maybe for the fact that they don't have a sign so it might take a while before everyone knows about it. The prices are indeed about 30% higher than at Chestnut Hill. And I agree with the comments about the soy sauce servers - they are pretty absurd. However, I think the food is basically as good as the food at Chestnut Hill. I had two unbelievably good meals at this place, exquisitely prepared sushi, no server errors. The sake menu is extensive too.

                      One problem with the Chestnut Hill Oishii is the wait - I resigned myself to only going on Sundays at 3, when the line is shortest. On the two nights that I went to Oishii Boston, I just walked in and was seated immediately, 7:30 both times. I'm sure this won't last for long, but it's certainly nice.

                      Summary: two entirely different experiences, very similar food. I'll definitely continue to support both locations.

                      1. I think it's wonderful that the owner is trying a different concept for his restaurant. It allows the restaurant to develop its own identity and menu giving the place a unique charm that is lost in many chain stores. Given time, Oishii Boston will develop into a solid and successful restaurant, if it hasn't already. It makes sense that prices are going to be higher. I'm pretty sure that cost of running the restaurant in Boston is much higher than the Chestnut Hill or Sudbury location.

                        1. I would recommend Oishii Too (the actual Oishii Too in Sudbury). There was no wait whatsoever, and it has a homey atmosphere for those of you off put by the young hip Boston scene. We ordered the Omakase there twice. Each course was like nothing we've had anywhere else, and the chef came out after each one to chat with us and see how we liked it (I think they may have been trying out new recipes for the restaurant in Boston; I was happy to be a guinea pig). Yes, it was expensive, but worth it for special occasions since you just can't get food like that anywhere else. I've never been to the Chestnut Hill Oishii; the wait was so long it was quicker to just drive to Sudbury.

                          I've been to the Boston restaurant once so far. Yes, the feel is completely different, and yes it is more expensive, but I thought the food was just as good. Price aside, I can't really understand why being squeezed into a room that is so small you get jostled every time somebody goes to the bathroom is more appealing than big and sleek.