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worst sushi

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It must be said- I ate at Jae's on Boyleston and it was so bad, I thought they must have given me a bad piece of tuna (I got the spicy tuna roll for takeout as I work nearby). I will say the manager was kind enough to offer me another lunch on the house and remembered who I was when stopped by for round two. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt but again, the tuna was nearly inedible! I threw it out. Nothing is so off putting as bad sushi. I appreciate their effort to accomodate me but I was disapointed to learn that it wasn't a one off.

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  1. Never had sushi at Jae's. The worst sushi I've had in the area was at Kotobukiya (the sushi, not the grocery of the same name), and I've given them at least three chances. It's always been very fishy smelling and tasting, though fortunately it didn't make me sick.

    Other places which I found about as bad were Yokohama (Brookline Village) and Shilla (Cambridge, Harvard Square). Barely a step up from these were Seiyo (Boston), Apollo Grill (Boston, Chinatown), Umi (Boston, Fenway), and Yama (Wellesley).

    The best I've had was at Oishii (Chestnut Hill), with other good ones being JP Seafood Cafe (Jamaica Plain), Village Sushi (Roslindale), Uni (Boston, Back Bay), New Ginza (Watertown), Oga (Natick), Ginza (Boston, Chinatown), Sakurabana (Boston, Financial District), and Sapporo (Newton Center), as well as three Brookline spots, Fugakyu, Tsunami, and Super Fusion.

    For me, Hana Sushi, Kaya, and Blue Fin (all North Cambridge), Cafe Sushi and Takemura (Cambridge, Harvard Square), Billy Tse (Boston, North End), Takeshima and Mr. Sushi (Brookline), Shogun (West Newton), Suishaya (Boston, Chinatown), China Sky (Wellesley), Osushi (Boston, Back Bay), and Chung Ki Wah (Medford) represent varying degrees of the middle ground.

    Would be interested to know other people's rankings.

    23 Replies
    1. re: bachslunch

      I'd say Kaya and Douzo in Back Bay are both middle ground, with Douza being on the high side but still not great. I agree with you on Billy Tse's as well. I live in Salem, MA so Asia has the best sushi, followed by Asahi Japanese Steakhouse and ending with Bankok Paradise. Asia is not out of this world, but it is pretty damn good for the area.

      1. re: idreamofrivers

        i've had truly awful sushi at kaya and atrocious service. i've given up on it.

        fugakyu is usually good, but the last two times i was served salmon roe (ikura) that was so old it was scary. don't ask me if "i'm sure", when it smells. just take it off the bill, tyvm.

        i've always had very good sushi at douzo, but that chef has been serving me for years.

        1. re: idreamofrivers

          Where is Asia?

          1. re: pdude

            Taste of Asia, right on the main drag Washington Street in Salem, MA.

        2. re: bachslunch

          I have had terrible sushi (specifically inedible spicy tuna that was mealy) twice now at Takemura in Harvard Square. Surprisingly, and I'm not sure if this counts, I've had really good sushi at Whole Foods on River Street (and they make some with brown rice as well).

          1. re: eastiefoodie

            I concur that Whole Foods on River Street has some pretty fine sushi. It is always fresh for sure.

          2. re: bachslunch

            While you're on a roll would you care to comment about Ginza on Beacon and St. Marys in Brookline? I have a gift certificate to use.

            1. re: ginnyhw

              i know i'm in the minority here, but i actually love ginza. i prefer the chinatown location since it's a bit cheaper, but the quality seems identical at the brookline location. one caveat: i generally get maki rolls as opposed to sushi/sashimi. but their maki rolls are my favorite in boston--always served warm, with unusual ingredients like carrots that are a nice surprise.

              1. re: alyssap99

                i don't think ginza chinatown is as good as it used to be. i prefer the brookline location because it feels more spacious and the fish has seemed fresher there than downtown.

                nobody has commented on o-sushi in copley place. recently had some very good sashimi there, but my other experiences had been disappointingly inconsistent.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I agree re: having had better sushi at the Brookline Ginza in recent years.

              2. re: ginnyhw

                "on a roll"
                sushi pun?

              3. re: bachslunch

                Wow! I admire bachslunch for having so much sushi experience. I don't have guts to try so many places as bad sushi to me is worse than not having it at all.

                I also love your ranking: put Oga far behind Oishii even though I feell Oishii is not as good as it just opened.

                I really want to go to a restaurant that is comparable to Oishii. Do you think I will be disappointed if I go to JP Seafood Cafe? Is JP Seafood Cafe Japanese-run?

                1. re: sheila

                  JP Seafood is very good, but it is not comparable to Oishii. If you are looking for an Oishii-like experience, I think you will be disappointed.

                2. re: bachslunch

                  Takeshima has gone way downhill recently and no longer even reaches the middle category, in my opinion. I heard there was a change of ownership, sadly for the worse. On the other hand, the new Gari, a couple of blocks away, is a welcome addition to the scene!

                  1. re: BobB

                    I actually found the Gari sushi kind of middling (suffered from two of my pet peeves: rice was not super-great, and catering full steam ahead to the mango, lobster, and cream cheese fads). The rice thing could have been an off moment (but still...). As for "trend sushi", I'd rather they pay more attention to some standards, or at least show some more imagination in picking ingredients aimed at east coasters.
                    On the plus side, though, they have a great nabeyaki udon--chock full of stuff, with some unexpected "guest" ingredients. But that's not what this thread is about :)

                  2. re: bachslunch

                    Kaya is the worst extant sushi I've run across... not because the fish is so bad, but because their lack of knowledge of what sushi IS is demonstrated starkly by their use of a sweet Chinese style soy. This is the only reputable place that fails to understand that sushi soy is entirely different stuff. Verily it was the Chow Mein of sushis.

                    Luckily, whatever became of "Rock and Roll Sushi" (Guyhama?) on Boylston? That was chum quality fish. I recall going there and depositing the white fish into a napkin from my mouth as my friend did just the same.

                    Hana is a nice spot. I like Blue Fin (never had serious problems there as others report). The only truly fancy sushi I've done is Uni but I hope to try Oiishi soon.

                    1. re: DulcetTone

                      IIRC, Uni doesn't serve sushi-- they only do sashimi and other varieties of cooked dishes. Try O Ya if you want sushi; approximately the same price range as Uni.

                      1. re: DulcetTone

                        Is Kaya reputable? I went to the one in Porter Square for lunch and it was possibly the worst (non-sushi) meal I've had in the past three years. Lovely architecture though!

                        1. re: aventinus

                          Kaya's Korean menu is definitely much better than their Japanese food. Never been to the one in Porter Sq, but working in the Back Bay for many years, often ran to their Boylston St location for an Asian food lunch fix. Their sushi, while not terrible, is definitely not great either. But at least it's better than their udon - ugh!

                      2. re: bachslunch

                        It's sorta tough to compare all of the sushi places in Boston as if they're all on the same playing field. And if I try it's basically a combination of quality, cost, and environment. If were comparing steak houses, we could basically throw cost and environment out of the equation since all are very similar. Sushi restaurant comparsions... not so easy.

                        I disagree with ranking Seiyo below Billy Tse's. And I actually rank both Osushi and Seiyo higher than Douzo. (although after starting off very poorly in my book, Douzo has climbed upon return visits). Seiyo is a reasonable and above average option.

                        I have not been to the CH Oishii, but Uni and the SE Oishii are of course "better", you get what you pay for.

                        I still like Fugakyu and do not like the chinatown Ginza (expensive for the quality/environment).

                        1. re: icculus

                          The one time I went to Seiyo, the sushi was frankly borderline, clearly not fresh though not rank awful like at Shilla, Yokohama, or Kotobukiya. I'm very hard pressed to recommend the place to anyone, especially as there are so many worthy options. Billy Tse's was notably better, though not to my taste in the top tier.

                          Myself, I think the CH Oishii is the best I've had locally. Haven't been to the one in the South End, though.

                          1. re: bachslunch

                            Fair enough. I go quite often and have had good luck with the quality/price ratio, but I do have friends that aren't fans. The white tuna there was awesome this past fall.

                        2. re: bachslunch

                          As with other replies, I don't have nearly the same breadth of experience as bachslunch. I have had numerous fine experiences at Oishii in Sudbury, and Shogun in West Newton is a long-standing fave. Shogun doesn't have nearly the variety of fish that other restaurants offer, but the selection is always fresh, and chef Ito-san makes terrific combinations (e.g., avocado salad, dragon roll). With Oishii I am more likely to order straight sushi / sashimi.

                          I for one am not at all a fan of Fugakyu, neither Brookline nor Sudbury locations. It's inconsistent, with the food seeming more like it comes off a low-care production line. Likewise Oga never really got it done for me.

                          Curiously, the sushi buffet Minado, in Natick, does all right - even though it truly is a production line! As with Oishii - although not at all in the same league - I prefer the sushi / sashimi to any rolls.

                        3. That is disappointing to hear; I've had sushi many times at Jae's and it's always been great.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cambridgejen

                            Oh, I just realized that we're talking about different locations - I've only been to the one on Comm Ave but it's always been excellent.

                          2. I've had the same experience at the Boylston St. Jae's. Not just the sushi - the entire menu and the service was a poor shadow of what I'd expect from Jae's. I don't know what happened there.

                            Luckily, the South End Jae's has remained consistent. Whatever affected Boylston St. didn't seem to infect the other one.

                            1. The worst sushi is to be had a couple doors down at Typhoon!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tamerlanenj

                                Yeah, typhoon's pretty low, and I agree with above that shilla and takemura in harvard square are dismal too. (Shilla is the only place I've ever gotten a bone in a piece of raw fish) Even the cafeteria sushi at MIT is better than these places (and that's REALLY not saying much)

                                In spite of its apparent popularity, I put Blue Fin in porter in this camp too--I've never seen worse rice than the dried out separate rice we got there, maybe it was a, um, fluke (so to speak) but the rest of the meal's ingredients were all so consistently bad (tofu dried out along the edges, overcooked edamame, etc.), I've never been tempted to go back.

                                Given how bad so many boston sushi places are, it's incredible to me that they don't focus on cooked dishes instead (Japanese, or better yet, specialties of their own native cuisine--why do Korean restaurant owners feel compelled to serve japanese style sushi?) I'd gladly trade a mediocre sushi place for an average curry or spaghetti house! But I guess that's a different topic...

                              2. Though I love sushi, I often forgo it in favor of less-expensive, more-filling options for my college kid budget because sushis one of the foods I feel you often get what you pay for. However, Ive been very happy with Sushi Express on Beacon St in Brookline. Down the street from Ginza, its tiny but tasty and very inexpensive. Their high-quantity turnover means its fresh (in 4 yrs of college, never had a bad experience). Not the biggest rolls or selection around but for no frills and a price that matches, I'm a Sushi Express fan.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: skess

                                  Ditto. I love to go to Sushi Express before a Red Sox game. I Try to find a place to park near by and load up on the good stuff, then stroll to the ball park and "root root root for the home team".
                                  Now that Dice-K is on board I'm sure there will be more sushi options around the park.

                                  1. re: catspercapita

                                    i'm thinking more crowded, overpriced, mediocre sushi around the park. can you see The Sausage Guy doing a sausage maki?

                                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                                      The worst sushi I've ever had is from the Stata Center at MIT.

                                      I must say that unlike some of the other posters I've had really excellent sushi from Bluefin (Porter Square), Umi (Fenway), Shilla (Harvard Square), and Ginza (Brookline and Chinatown). I have also been plesantly surprised with Whole Foods.

                                      I love transcedent sushi, and the wholes in my wallet can attest that I've had my fair share in both Tokyo and New York. Oishii compares favorably with the best I've had in Japan.

                                      But I'm not too much of a sushi snob to thumb my nose at Umi or Bluefin in particular, which I think have the best sushi in the area that won't break the bank.

                                      1. re: lipoff

                                        Being a college student, I'm always on the prowl for good, relatively inexpensive sushi... and considering I'm at BU, Sushi Express is a standby... I went weekly all of my sophomore year with a friend. That being said, the one time I had it from Umi, I was deeply nonplussed.

                                        Whole Foods (aka "empty wallet") generally does very good sushi for what it it - but you do pay for it... but its not much more expensive than what Campus Convenience sells [yes, this is lousy sushi, but when you need to grab lunch at BUMC and want to pay with fake BU money, it fits the bill].

                                        1. re: photogeek

                                          Haven't seen any mention of Suishaya in this discussion. I finally went a few months ago for the first time due to all the positive comments I seen in various places and I was quite disappointed. Our salmon smelled fishy, so we didn't even taste it for fear it was bad. The service was borderline, the sushi was poorly made, and the bibimbap we tried as well was as dull as it gets.

                                          When in Chinatown, I'd still say Ginza is the best bet for sushi. Oishii reigns supreme in my book for the city overall, but I find sitting at the sushi bar at Oga's and letting Oga make what he wants excellent as well (better than sitting at a table and ordering off the menu there). My dependable fresh-but-not-fancy spot is bluefin. Unlike Another Adam, I find the sushi dependly fresh and the rice well-made there and I've been countless times. As for Kotobukiya sushi bar, it may be in a downward slide. I used to enjoy going there, but the last visit I noticed a lot of on-the-edge looking fish in the case, which is odd, because they are always so busy, you'd think nothing would have time to get old. Maybe they're buying lower quality fish/cuts than they used to.

                                          1. re: iss

                                            The last time I was at the Chinatown Ginza, I was pretty skeeved out - pretty low quality in my opinion - I would not go back there. The Beacon Street location is still fine.

                                        2. re: lipoff

                                          i agree- umi is far and away the best sushi i have had in boston so far. the waitstaff is extremely friendly and helpful too. it is a nice low-key restaurant with unexpectedly amazing food.

                                  2. I made the mistake of ignoring chowhound posts and went to Yama in Wellesley for lunch. It was one of the worst Japanese lunches that I have ever had. I ordered tempura which was caked with batter. Also, the rice that was served with the food was Chinese not Japanese rice. The other pet peeve is that the green tea, which cost $1, was simply a teabag with a small cup of hot water. All in all, a terrible place that I would not recommend to your worst enemy.

                                    1. I haven't been to nearly as many sushi places as Bachslunch, but I'd rank the ones I'm familiar with like this

                                      Top tier: Oishii and Fugakyu. My experiences from Fugakyu have all been delivery; all dining in at Oishii. Based on these several experiences, I think I prefer Fugakyu.
                                      Middle of the road: Takemura, Toraya, Ginza, the new Bluefin
                                      Poor: Takeshima, Kotobukiya sushi bar, Cafe Sushi (Sunday $1 special, reminded me of Kotobukiya)
                                      The worst I've ever had: Harkness Commons at Harvard Law School. (Sadly, IIRC the maki they sell are the same price as or higher than equivalent maki at Oishii and Fugakyu.)

                                      But well-made maki can to some degree make up for poor fish quality. E.g., I enjoy simple avocado rolls dipped in soy sauce, so even if the salmon in a salmon and avocado roll isn't the greatest, the roll still can be enjoyable. So I'll eat at the Kotobukiya sushi bar from time to time.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: aventinus

                                        I've posted on here before about how I was a Kotobukiya fan. But after an experience last week--where the box of sushi I took home smelled like Haymarket's fish area after a really hot day--I will never return. I ate some of the pieces that didn't look too suspicious (the shrimp looked like it had been around the block several times), but I regretted it immediately after I was done and worried all night that I was going to get sick. Luckily, I didn't, but no more chances will be taken on that garbage...

                                        I can't wait for Shino to open in Davis. Hopefully they will keep the same ratio of affordable and quality as the Newbury St. branch. The only other really close option for me is Yoshi's in Powderhouse Sq. Although I never worry about getting sick there, it's 2x as expensive as some other options and I find their sushi (the rice part) to be incredibly bland and their fish not cut too well.

                                      2. Worst includes Takeshima and Mr. Sushi in Brookline, Ginza in Chinatown. Ginza in Brookline is better. Fugakyu and Oishii are best in Boston area. Inaho in Yarmouth/Cape Cod is the best sushi in Massachusetts!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: brenda02452

                                          Cross Takeshima off your list, they're out of business, to be replaced soon by a new oyster/seafood place.

                                        2. OMG, worst was Ichiban Sushi in Downtown Lowell. Someone told us it was great and great prices. I got a huge bone in my salmon - I couldn't eat anymore. They might even be closed now, I was really worried about their prep situation as I watched them from the bar. They shared the building with a bar and people were coming back and forth, bit wasted - couldn't wait to get out!!!!