Sushi Island, Wakefield - wow and thanks!
- rlh May 9, 2008 08:50 AM
This place is really a find and worth a bit of drive out of town.
We never would have been to this place without this board (always defaulted to Duck Walk Thai next door -- which we also love...) - we were nearby last night and stopped in for a late dinner (9p does seem late there on Thursday) - the place was nearly empty, but we sat at the sushi bar and had a terrific experience from start to finish.
The waitresses were always available and the sushi chef was right in front of us - it wasn't busy so we enjoyed talking with him.
They have a MUCH deeper selection of special items for both nigiri and maki than our usual spots (Toraya, Mr. Sushi, and Sakura Bana) - the tempura fried hamachi maki was new to us and a real hit. Both the standard maguro and white tuna were delicious. The baby red snapper with its lightly torched skin was pretty to look at, but the smoke/char flavor didn't quite work for me - it was all I could taste. I couldn't really taste a difference in the premium unagi ("from Japan") vs. regular unagi. The standards were all pristinely fresh, normally-sized and well-executed. I do think the knifework and assembly is more careful and precise at Toraya, but the flavors were all good.
Our starters of tempura and squid salad were fresh and tasty. We finished with outstanding ice creams - black sesame and roasted green tea (and only $2.50 each)!.
Sushi Island is now on our short list rotation! Thanks again.
I'm glad they have another fan. I have never managed to save room for dessert, but I like the sound of black sesame ice cream - thanks for the rec, I must try that.
Also, I don't know how often they carry this item, but last time I was there we tried "triangle clam" - it was unbelievably great. The texture was akin to white tuna (in fact I thought it was white tuna when they served it) but the flavor is heading toward scallop, though not quite so sweet. Really good.
Sushi Island has always been my favorite Japanese place for all the reasons stated by the other posts. Kenji-san always seems to have a wider selection of special items than most other place and it is always very fresh. I also like many of their non sushi items too. The next time you are there try the Hamachi Kama. In Japanese it means head of the Hamachi but it is actually sort of the cheek bone of the fish. It is simply grilled and served with a ponzu dipping sauce. You have to work a bit to get the meat off the bones but it is very delicious.
Since we rediscovered Kenji-san 5 yrs ago (long ago he was the long-time head sushi chef at Takeshima in Coolidge Corner)this is the ONLY place we go for sushi (and teriyaki hamachi kama for My Love). He does the best Yama Kake around and his Sliced Ankimo with ponzu is like a delectable foie gras with a whiff of the sea(it's monkfish liver; not available in summer.) He is a very serious guy, and can appear rather gruff...His wife sings jazz there every Fri and Sat; not our cup of sake, so we dine there other nights and have never had a problem being seated right away. The only things I don't care for are on the non-sushi menu. The 'Special Spinach' sauce is way too sweet. And the Age dashi Tofu is perfectly fried but rather than my preference,dashi, they serve it with a soy based sauce. Oishi chestnut hill we have not tried, but the overly expensive flashy non-traditional Oishii II has not seen us since our only time there.
Had a great lunch here today for the first time. I had a huge variety of nigiri including many unique specials (torched pink snapper, grilled conch, Extra White Tuna). Everything tasted top notch and very fresh.
My biggest complaint was the size of the nigiri fish slices. They were really thin. Much smaller than I am used to being served at my regular establishments (Fugakyu, Sakura and every other place I have ever been to). Almost to the point that I felt like I was ripped off.
Other than the size issue, this place is excellent.
Fugakyu and most other sushi restaurants in Boston serve sushi in the Korean style (adopted by Chinese restaurateurs as well) - meaning larger slices of fish, often draped over each end of the rice. What we perceive to be value in this case, the Japanese consider inelegant. It is unusual to find a slice any longer than the rice or thicker than 3/16" in a Japanese owned establishment, as the sushi is as much about the rice as it is about the fish.