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Jul 16, 2006 04:29 AM

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


        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...