Oishii Boston - is it worth it?
Having been a few times to the original Oishii in Chestnut Hill (and loved it) I decided to try out the new Oishii in the South End last night. No problems getting a reservation for 6 folks at the height of the Friday rush - while the place was crowded, it was not incredibly so, and I did not see many people waiting for tables (unlike, say, a place like Toro). I noticed they take reservations on opentable as well.
So, was it worth it? Hard to say. Frankly, the prices are ridiculous. (This is coming from someone who lived in Japan and knows what good sushi should cost.) At first glance at the menu many sushi items are in the $4-6 range, which sounds reasonable, until you realize that that is _per piece_, not per 2 pieces. The rolls run from $12 to $30 if I recall correctly. In the end we ended up spending about $100 per person which is not too bad, but we did not drink very much and definitely were not stuffed when leaving; we could have easily spent another $20-30 a head.
The fish is excellent quality and everyone agreed it was some of the best sushi they have had in Boston. We had a range of nigiri including toro, aji, hamachi, sake toro, uni, scallop, tobiko, and unagi and everything was great. The maki rolls we ordered - including the white tiger maki (tuna and avocado wrapped in white seaweed with a spicy mayo), "Oishii Sashimi Maki" which was large pieces of sashimi held together with cucumber (no rice!), and lobster maki (wrapped in marinated seaweed) were good, but often large, cumbersome to eat, and with too many contrasting flavors. In contrast the execution at the original Oishii seemed to be far more consistent and less "over the top." They do have a very interesting selection of fish and even had some live uni at the sushi bar which one of the chefs was happy to prod for us to show that it was alive.
Part of my hesitation comes from the space, as well. It is very dark, spartan, and trying a bit too hard to be "hip". The overall effect is a bit cold, rather than feeling cozy and welcoming. Service was very good. The sake list was excellent though the cocktails were uneven -- best to stick to sake.
Would love to hear how others feel about the new Oishii. I was surprised how different it was in style _and_ substance to the original, even though I had it on the boards!
Oishii in Chestnut Hill is delicious and worth every penny.
Oishii in the South End is overhyped and not worth the price. At half the price I would be satisfied. The sashimi (a true test of a good sushi place) was not as fresh and buttery soft as it should be at approximately $7 per PIECE. The appetizers were creative in their conception, but when executed were just a bit off (e.g. salmon sashimi bits on a potato crisp had the wrong mouthfeel).
I too have lived and worked in Japan, as a cook at some good traditional and some modern places. Even back then there were quite a few different styles of sushi to be had - some post classical sushi if you will had it fans.
Personally, I'm more of a fan of the traditional style. But, after having been to the new "O", I can see where their intentions to fit in to the Boston scene have taken them away from their original success.
if you enter oishii in the search box and click date at the top left of the page, my long oishii report of last month- will come up.
my feelings are that maybe it's worth it for the unusual sushi items, but i have had better or as-good trad sushi- which is what i prefer- at Sushi Island in Wakefield.
I actually just posted the topic - what makes and expensive restaurant worth it. So in answer to your question about the new Oishii - I would say no. I agree that the sushi was great, but for a bill that is going to total $100 per person it doesn't quite cut it. I liked it, I didn't love it. for $100+ per person - I want to go home and say "wow, can't wait to go back." There was something about it that was a little off putting. I did, however, learn while I was there that I don't like sake very much.