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Mar 20, 2008 10:16 AM

True Japanese-trained sushi chefs?

My Asian cooking teacher bemoans the fact that "there are absolutely no true, Japanese-formally-trained sushi chefs serving up the toro and unagi anywhere in Boston and surrounds. He says that many have no training at all, and some just a little that they got by sitting on the other side of the sushi table. Anybody here know anything about this topic?
And where to get affordable, fresh, creative (non-California roll) sushi in Greater Boston?

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  1. Japanese-trained chefs work at:
    Sushi Island.

    Has he been to any of those?

    1. I recently went to Sushi Island for the first time, and it was quite good. Some of the stuff I had was pretty non-traditional. A roll with saba, shiso, and pickled burdock was our favorite. The pressed sushi had tobiko mixed into the rice, and a thin layer of avocado - good, but not really what I was looking for. The chirashi did not have a ton of fish, but the pickles and other stuff were plentiful and tasty. I've heard the head chef is Japanese and formally trained. I'm not sure, but I think the a la carte prices are a little bit higher than Toraya's.

      Toraya is my favorite. The chirashi is a great deal, since a few cuts of the current specials get into the mix. Not sure about the chef's training, but I've never gotten a bad piece.

      I've never been to Uni - I imagine you get fresh and creative, but not affordable and technically not really sushi anymore.

      I don't believe that you need a formal training in Japan to serve up respectable toro and unagi, but I agree that the sushi scene around here is weak. Disregarding the issue of authenticity, a lot of popular places in the area are subpar either on quality or consistency.

      5 Replies
      1. re: nfo

        i am a fan of uni bar, but i did not realize that they had a japanese chef. not on the last sunday night that i was there.

          1. re: Infomaniac

            I don't care where they were born, as long as they are male. A women's hand is the wrong temperature for molding rice.

            1. re: BostonBestEats

              Yes, and their intestines are shorter. That's also a big problem.

        1. I have no idea where or by whom they were trained, but I have recently been singing the praises of Ponzu in Waltham. I went there for lunch again this week and was again blown away by the freshness and quality of their sashimi. Their prices are reasonable, especially the lunch specials.

          1. Also Sakurabana in financial district.

            1. Anyone knows where Oga's namesake chef trained at?

              6 Replies
                1. re: almansa

                  Yeah - as in he owns the place, along with Takumi in Nashua and of course, Oga's in Natick. Toru Oga studied Kaiseki in Kyoto. Locally, he started out at Sakurabana in the 80's.

                  Or so says his bio:

                  I believe it. I speak Japanese with him, which is more than I can say of a lot of the other places mentioned here. It's as close to the real thing as you can get in Boston. Although I have yet to go to O-ya.

                  1. re: applehome

                    Do you know where chef Oga cooks nowadays?

                    1. re: chowda

                      It's been a while for me (no money), but he was at Oga's in Natick when I last saw him about a year ago. The guys at Takumi have been trained by him at Oga's, They're not Japanese, but as far as creating a good, worthwhile omakase presentation, they are certainly the best in the area.