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Feb 12, 2008 10:36 AM

Toraya is a Gem

I know this place has gotten some praise here, but I just had the most exquisite bento box at Toraya for lunch. Wow. Beautiful, homey, and tasty.

One of my co-workers said they make the best Udon Noodle soup she has ever had, including in Japan.

Toraya Restaurant
890 Massachusetts Ave
Arlington, MA 02476
(781) 641-7477

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  1. I totally crush on Toraya too. I've never been for lunch - what was in your bento box?

    5 Replies
    1. re: gini

      - Salmon on a leaf
      - elegantly shaped rice with some unusual purple herb/spice decoration
      - two chicken nubbins
      - split fried dumpling
      - pickled radish and some purple pickle


      Might have to do an omakase outing there some time ;-).

      1. re: StriperGuy

        I also am a huge fan. I think it would be an interesting place for omekase, but would definititely require pre-planning. Try the scallop sashimi when they have it - absolutely wonderful.

        1. re: tdaaa

          No pre-planning needed for omakase at Toraya -- that's what we nearly always get there so maybe 2 or 3 times a month -- just ask and indicate any special likes or dislikes.

          1. re: GretchenS

            I am very interested in an omakase there, how does it work? Do you just ask the waitress or do you sit at the sushi bar? How much does it cost or is that something you negotiate? I'm thinking about doing this for my boyfriend's bday dinner at the end of the month and would love to know some more about it, we love the place and can't get enough.

            1. re: shellicopter

              You can tell the waitress but it's way more fun to sit at the sushi bar and talk to the sushi chef/owner, Shinji. He is a bit shy so will not chat unless you give a pretty good indication that you want to, but he loves his work and people who appreciate it. You tell him you want omakase or that you want him to choose for you (I didn't even know the word omakase when I first started getting it) and let him know if there are things you don't like or can't eat. If you are very adventurous and will try anything, tell him that too -- you can give an example to convince him -- eg, "we even eat natto". I'm sure you can set a limit but we never have because the prices are so reasonable (for sushi). It's a little hard to say because of sake and side orders and I don't pay all that much attention, but I would be shocked if the omakase went over $30 pp and I bet it's usually less unless we are in total pig-out mode. It sounds like a very nice birthday dinner, enjoy!

    2. toraya is my go to sushi place. i love it. :)

      1. Striper, thanks for reminding me about this place. I went last night with a friend and we had:
        miso soup - excellent flavor, no weird clumping that you get with instant miso.
        red bean soup - red miso with red beans, tiny mushrooms and tofu that was almost wine-like in flavor - I truly enjoyed this.
        chirashi - their version is excellent and the chef included a couple of pieces of the special fishes of the day- toro wrapped in nori and fresh scallops that were sweet.
        foster roll - burdock, eel, cucumbers and carrots with avocado on the outside - the burdock made this roll earthy and salty and excellent.
        sushi of: toro, black bass, and salmon - all were perfectly cut, if a bit large, and well seasoned, though the black bass didn't taste like much other than wasabi.

        Agree that Toraya is a gem!

        8 Replies
        1. re: gini

          I was there for lunch. The sushi lunch special for $11.50 has to be the best sushi deal in Boston. Remarkable variety, quality and quantity. It was great!

          1. re: StriperGuy

            Hi all. This is only me second post as I'm new to the board. I ventured out to Toraya today (I study at Tufts in Medford and thought it might be worth the 15 min drive). I have to say I was very disappointed with the sushi at this place. I ordered salmon and yellowtail nigiri and a few maki's. All in all, the quality of the sushi was OK at best. Cannot be compared to the quality of the fish at the more expensive establishments (Oishii/OGA etc). The prices were much cheaper than the more expensive places, but I think it is definitely a level below them and therefore the price is probably right in comparison. Just wanted to put my two cents in. Perhaps they were having a slow/off day. Has anyone else felt this way about the sushi there? Cheers :)

            1. re: noonoo3

              I think you had an outlier experience. I totally agree it's not the same level as Oishii (Sudbury is my favorite) or O-Ya, but to me that's more about their greater creativity, upscale settings, and much broader menu selection - and you point out the price point difference.

              I recommend making the trek again for a second try. Did you let them know about your disappointment? What was their response? They seem to take the whole food quality and service thing quite seriously and I'd expect would want to make it right with you.

              We count ourselves very lucky to have it as our local option for takeout (or dining in during non-peak times when it's not completely packed with a wait) - freshness has NEVER remotely been an issue over the past couple of years on an almost weekly basis. The chirashi is always like opening a jewel box. The salmon in particular is always really pristine - and everything else is at least fine if not impressive in terms of quality and knifework. It certainly blows away the nearest reasonable alternatives for us - e.g., Mr. Sushi, Hana, and (Fresh Pond or Medford, but not Woburn-they have problems in seafood) Whole Foods. I have to admit that Sushi Island in Wakefield is comparable in terms of prices, with more selection, and a real contender when we are willing to drive that far or in that area otherwise.

              1. re: rlh

                I've recently been to both Toraya and Sushi Island. Both good. Toraya a little more hole-in-the-wall homey. On a one time try, I like Sushi Island a little better, but I was trying some specials the had in: triangle clam, mutsu and pink snapper.

                1. re: rlh

                  I guess it was just a one off. I have to say I wasn't impressed with the presentation of the sushi chef either. He was wearing an apron that looked like it hadn't been washed for a while and I could see into the kitchen that didn't look too clean. All this didn't help with my dining experience. Both me and my DC also noticed that the maki rolls were made very hastily and seemed to fall apart as soon as you picked them up. I would understand this if it was during peak times, however, it was only us and two other diners in the restaurant.

                  1. re: noonoo3

                    The sushi chef at Sushi Island was very neat, and pleasant, and happy to discuss the sushi. The woman who seemed to be his apprentice seemed less knowledgeable.
                    About the maki roll, don't you sometimes find a better made, fresher roll is supposed to fall apart a little? Or am I making excuses?

                    1. re: justbeingpolite

                      I was actually talking about Toraya. My bad. With the makis I can understand falling apart because of freshness, but in Toraya this was not the case. More of a "not so well rolled" thing.

                2. re: noonoo3

                  We have only eaten there once so far and that was a couple of weeks ago. I have to say, we were very, very pleased at the freshness and quality of the sashimi. We (2 of us) ordered one sashimi deluxe and one sashimi regular entrees; both were so great that we ordered a third sashmi regular entree. Every piece (be it fish, scallop, sea urchin, giant clam etc) was fresh with its unique flavor. We can't wait to return.