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Sushi Island? Meh.....

galleygirl Jan 26, 2010 04:41 PM

Galleymom lives in Peabody, and still hasn't taken me out for last year's birthday...TC and I love sushi, esp. if mom is paying...So, it seemed like a no-brainer for a great meal; this place gets all the love from North of Boston posters; including posters I really trust...

So, we walked in on Sunday, around 7:30...The only ones in the place! What's that about? Kinda creepy...Since it's my day; their gift to me is letting me order.

I immediately go for the ankimo appetizer, and the salmon skin with radish, as well as Yakitori Chicken and Beef Aspara Negima, because I want to make my guests at ease with not having to eat all fish. We also get Agedashi Tofu, one of my favorites, and Special Spinach, because I want the sesame sauce on it...

The ankimo had 6 slices in it, each the size and thickness; I kid you not, of a nickel. Barely. This stuff isn't expensive, and I now know that a lot of sushi chefs buy it precooked in a roll. This did not blow the doors off of any I have ever tasted, and the size was more like that of an amuse bouche. Same for the salmon skin and radish. A teaspoon for each of us. This was embarrassing.

The spinach rose to a "small portion", but still half the size of anyplace I've been in town, including places like Shiki. I understand that Japanese cuisine is not about big portions, but these were a size of what I assume each mouthful is at Ya Ma, and they weren't haute Japanese cuisine of any kind.

The kicker? The spinach, the yakitori (average size) and the beef negima (also average size) all had the same brown sauce on them, as did the oyster katsu we ordered later..

The sushi? Also miniscule. Now, I know there is a lot of criticism about the "Americanization" of sushi sizes on this board, and elsewhere, but I've been to Japan, and never had sushi rolls, or nigiri, this chintzy. The flavors were okay, but nothing out of the ordinary. Mom can't eat raw fish, so we got a few cooked things. Two orders of the spider maki here would make up an order elsewhere, almost. Again, perfectly acceptable sushi, but nothing that made me roll my eyes heavenward. We also got a few things that were raw, including a new sardine that had been flown in from Tsukiji...Very nice. Pleasant, even.

My one order of hamachi sashimi was very good, probably the best dish of the night. TC's one piece of Waygu beef nigiri was COOKED...Weird. And teeny. Not so weird, as we were discovering...

$140. before tip for the 3 of us. I was the only one drinking, so that included a carafe of hot sake. SO not worth it. We were all sitting there, trying to ignore the fact that the emperor had no clothes.

I guess the way to go here is dinners, but I like variation, and I wanted to introduce my loved ones to new things...Eh...There's SO much better around, I can't believe this is the best the North Shore has to offer...

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  1. almansa RE: galleygirl Jan 26, 2010 05:03 PM

    I think it's one of the top Japanese sushi restaurants in the Boston area. It's one of the only sushi spots - Japanese or not - that has a selection of fish that's actually interesting. They don't do much to it, but that's fine by me. I know you've been to Japan, but nigiri should never be more than one bite - granted, for an adult mouth. I haven't had too much of the menu outside of sushi and sashimi. I suggest you give Imari Fusion in Winchester a try. It's Thai, Korean and Japanese - Surprise! I say go for the Hollywood maki. It arrives at the table wrapped in foil engulfed in flames. I had it last night.

    27 Replies
    1. re: almansa
      galleygirl RE: almansa Jan 26, 2010 05:20 PM

      (dryly..) Really? And what size should maki be?

      1. re: galleygirl
        b
        Buzzy2 RE: galleygirl Aug 25, 2011 08:32 AM

        (wetly...) Each piece of maki should be a bite. Not enough to cause your cheeks to puff out like a squirrel with its nuts in its mouth, however. You never want to look like you have your nuts in your mouth, especially when you are eating sushi.

        But seriously - my take on the sushi size issue is this:

        I have had great (even GREAT) sushi in the US, Europe and Japan. For me, it requires that the rice be properly prepared short grain sushi rice and the neta be of the highest quality. When I see huge pieces of sushi at Oishii or other local restaurants it only means one thing. I am getting more (in volume) for my money, but lower quality. If the piece of toro is twice or three times the size of what I get at a really good sushi bar, chances are that it isn't the same quality. And that has been my experience. Most of the time, the quality is lower, with few exceptions.

        Also, I believe in balance. When I get a perfect piece of sushi from the chef, I pop it in my mouth and that is all. I don't need to cut it, bite it, bury it in wasabi or soy - the piece is perfectly balanced as it is. Yasuda-san is very good at this. (Now in Japan though.)

        1. re: Buzzy2
          Mike5966 RE: Buzzy2 Aug 25, 2011 11:18 AM

          Not sure which branch of Oishii you are referring to, but if you are talking about the South End branch, I'd have to respectfully disagree that their nigiri pieces are too big. On over 10-plus visits, I have noticed their nigiri is smaller than they are at the majority of sushi joints in Boston, definitely one-bite, and definitely without puffing your cheeks out like a squirrel.

          1. re: Mike5966
            opinionatedchef RE: Mike5966 Aug 25, 2011 12:51 PM

            like this?!

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              Mike5966 RE: opinionatedchef Aug 25, 2011 01:37 PM

              Yes, just like that, unless you were born with really small cheeks.

              1. re: Mike5966
                opinionatedchef RE: Mike5966 Aug 25, 2011 03:35 PM

                now THAT is something i've wished for all my life.

            2. re: Mike5966
              b
              Buzzy2 RE: Mike5966 Aug 25, 2011 07:52 PM

              Hi Mike,

              OK, you've motivated me to tell my Oishii stories in the spirit of full disclosure.

              When Oishii opened in Chestnut Hill I was excited. I read that the chef was from Nobu and that numerous dishes were just like Nobu's.

              On my first visit we were served by the chef/owner. I was very disappointed.

              Toro tartare (presented just like Nobu) - very cold toro (pre-formed and left in the refrigerator?) almost tasteless, perhaps because of the temperature. The mustard sauce was also bland.

              Miso Cod (presented just like Nobu) - overcooked and not very fresh. grainy and pasty. Not at all like Nobu. Having eaten at Nobu restaurants perhaps one hundred times, I know these dishes. This is supposed to be buttery and flaky and moist and delicate. This was terrible.

              Sushi - big pieces of fish of low quality, sometimes served so cold they seemed almost frozen. too large, not at all the way they should be.

              Sashimi - I felt like I was being given fish for a hot pot dinner - large enough to feed several people. Too large to appreciate properly and of marginal quality.

              After this terrible experience, I asked my friends from Nobu about the chef, and nobody could come up with any record of his having ever been a sushi chef or even a kitchen chef. Was the original marketing material a lie? Did he have a job working for the restaurant but not as a chef?

              Over the next few years I found myself back there several times due to invites from friends and one particularly desperate day when I needed a hit of sushi. I also tried the Sudbury location once in the hope that it was an improvement.

              I avoided the Nobu-copied dishes and just ordered sushi and sashimi, but I still ran into low quality, flavor-challenged fish in portions much larger than what I am used to at the better Japanese restaurants in NY, LA and Tokyo.

              When I heard about the expansion of Oishii into the South End I read that it was more expensive. Having given them half a dozen chances over the years I am really loath to try again. However, if they refund my money in advance I will go there.

              These days, in Boston, I tend to be more disappointed than pleased. I have begun ordering good quality items (toro, live shrimp, live scallop, CA uni, live uni, etc.) directly from suppliers. I make my own sushi rice also, when I feel the need. It's much less frustrating.

              -----
              Toro
              1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

              1. re: Buzzy2
                9
                9lives RE: Buzzy2 Aug 25, 2011 08:34 PM

                Buzzy, I've read a number of your Boston sushi threads with interest..andI'll make a suggestion for you.

                Eat your sushi in Tokyo, NY or LA. You just haven't enjoyed it here. Why keep punishing yourself?

                I won't deal with you point by point, but to pick an example, I've provided Oishii with various grades of tuna...in CH ,not SE.. It's all premium, from plain maguro to fatty tuna. He knows the good stuff and is wiling to pay..

                http://www.flickr.com/photos/61246842...

                Live shrimp...catch the Maine season

                Ankimo....just got a few monkkfish...not that good...out of season.

                You can knock NE sush all you want, but it doesn't stink as your posts have implied.

                You're just fishing in the wrong pond

                Live scallop...NE offers some of the best.

                Santa Barbara Uni..go to Catalina...in season provides live in shell

                Live shrimp..short Maine season

                l.

                1. re: 9lives
                  b
                  Buzzy2 RE: 9lives Aug 25, 2011 09:22 PM

                  I do exactly that, but since I live in Boston I keep hoping for higher quality. I eat fresh caught Maine shrimp in season, but, for example, I find it at Whole Foods and not at the Japanese restaurants here most of the time. I don't want to have to travel for good sushi or have it shipped in. It just seems to be the case that my favorite restaurants are in other cities.

                  I do enjoy some of the food that I find at some of the Japanese restaurants in Boston. They just aren't as good as many others in other cities. That's my opinion and it is shared by many others on this board.

                  You point out that you supply Oishii with tuna - well, when I was served tuna at 37 degrees the flavor was hidden by the temperature. Even if it had been good quality, it was not served properly.

                  The bad dishes that I have written about and the poor quality and poor preparation are just that. If you want to pay o-toro money for average non-toro tuna, as I did the other day, go ahead. If you are satisfied with overcooked or otherwise badly prepared dishes, great. I live here and I keep hoping for better, but when I experience poor quality food, I will explain what it is for others so that they can avoid the same problems. I recognize that some people, perhaps such as yourself, might not care to know about these problems, but I do.

                  When I started eating sushi here in the 70's, most of the Japanese restaurants (there were just a handful) were Japanese-owned or at least the chefs were Japanese. The bluefin tuna caught off our coast was delivered here and we were able to eat top quality maguro and toro often. At that time I would frequently get live sea scallop, sweet and delicious. It's been a long time since I've found that in a local Japanese restaurant, so I get it delivered instead. Things have changed.

                  Now there are many more restaurants offering sushi and most of them are not owned or run by Japanese. My Japanese friends agree that the quality is not what it should be at many of these shops. This is not just my opinion.

                  I am not knocking all restaurants in NE as you seem to suggest, just the ones that I have been to that have been very disappointing. I know that it is possible for a restaurant to do a much better job than some of the ones I have visited. I know that this might cost them more money or require that they sell smaller portions and deal with some of the criticism from people that can't tell the difference in quality. I have plenty of friends that are happy with supermarket sushi. That's OK - for them.

                  I will continue to provide my opinions on this board when I run into disappointing restaurants. I see this board as a place where KNOWLEDGEABLE people write about food and expect to read comments from other people with the ability to discern authenticity and quality of cuisine. I will explain my disappointment so that others can decide if they agree or disagree with my opinions. Everyone has a right to their opinions. That's what Chowhound is all about, to me.

                  BTW, if you are providing tuna to Oishii, where is it from and what species are they purchasing?

                  1. re: Buzzy2
                    9
                    9lives RE: Buzzy2 Aug 25, 2011 10:12 PM

                    Buzzy, I don't care for your rudeness/smart mouth but I'll respond.\

                    You don't like whatyou get in Boston,shop elsewhere. The tuna , of variousv qualities come from Stellwagen or the Cape..or South ofNantucket 120 miles or so. I.off njf you don't like Ting's selection, go elsewhere..

                    I consider my self "KNOWLEGEABLE" I sell a very small % of the fish I catch...to Ting or anyone else.

                    I'm on Stellwagen now...got a nibble...adios

                    1. re: 9lives
                      b
                      Buzzy2 RE: 9lives Aug 25, 2011 10:44 PM

                      and the species?

                      Bluefin, Bigeye, Yellowfin?

                      One of the reasons that I ask is that although I don't have the experience that you do, I have seen very few tuna with large regions of top quality toro other than that from the largest tuna in season. Sometimes the harakami, the best part of the belly, is mostly tough connective tissue. When I am lucky enouh to buy fresh caught tuna belly at NE fish markets, I have to scrape the toro out. It may not look great, but it tastes fantastic.

                      1. re: 9lives
                        9
                        9lives RE: 9lives Aug 25, 2011 10:45 PM

                        Lost a small yellowfin.

                        Buzzy, you're right. New opinions and resto suggestions are very wlcome

                        1. re: 9lives
                          9
                          9lives RE: 9lives Aug 26, 2011 07:28 AM

                          I've sold to Ting and a few other places. I am hardly a primary supplier.

                          As to the tough connective tissue in the toro, scrapethe flesh from the connective tissue and make a tartare.

                          Some of the best tasting tuna, I've had was scraped with a spoon from between the backbone bones and head area.

                          Wen mostly get yellowfin, bluefin, bigeye. The giant blues travel the Gulf Stream about mid Oct.

                          Larger yellowfin, too small bluefin and cod.

                      2. re: Buzzy2
                        tatsu RE: Buzzy2 Aug 26, 2011 08:57 AM

                        I have to say, I agree with a lot of Buzzy2 is saying, and I don't think he's being really rude or anything. Let's not be all cliquey like people outside of CH say CH'ers are.

                        Boston can definitely do better. The difference in quality between NYC and Boston is pretty damn embarrassing. I rarely eat sushi here, but Inahao, Sushi Island, Toraya, Sakanaya, and Oga's are ok in my book. People complain about poor Mexican (well not lately) but sushi and Japanese in general is quite possibly the least developed major cuisine in Boston. It's not because I know the food well, it's just obvious that as one of the greatest cuisines in the world, it's just not here. Saying we have a wealth of Japanese is like saying Chez Jacky or Jacky's Table or whatever it is called, is the height of French food in Boston.

                        On the other hand the demand is not there so what can you do.

                        -----
                        Toraya Restaurant
                        890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                        Sakanaya
                        75 Linden St, Boston, MA 02134

                        1. re: tatsu
                          9
                          9lives RE: tatsu Aug 26, 2011 10:23 AM

                          I reread my posts and agree you're right. He wasn't being rude. Chalk it up to a slow night for me.

                          Not having eaten sushi in many other cities, I'm not the best guy to make comparisons. Most of the raw fish I eat is fish I caught..and is pristine. I have bought at Sakanaya,a vendor on the Fish Pier New Deal and been very pleased.

                          I really don't think it's that meaningful to compare Boston's Japanese food to NY, LA, or Tokyo..given the great disparity in populations, particularly Japanese.

                          eta..I did go to lunch at Sakura Bana for lunch this week, tuna ok, mackeral, hamachi..VG, ankimo..ok, I've made better. Salmom, shrimp..nothing special. Overall ok but a little disappointing; but I had a craving.

                          -----
                          Fish Pier Restaurant
                          667 E Broadway, Boston, MA 02127

                          Sakanaya
                          75 Linden St, Boston, MA 02134

                          1. re: 9lives
                            Alcachofa RE: 9lives Aug 28, 2011 07:35 AM

                            I've found Sakura Bana certainly not top tier, but generally good for a standard sushi place. That sounds like an off day for them? Or downhill alert?

                            -----
                            Sakura Restaurant
                            231 Wickenden St, Providence, RI 02903

                            1. re: Alcachofa
                              9
                              9lives RE: Alcachofa Aug 28, 2011 11:50 AM

                              I wtouldn't call a downhill alert. I phoned in a takeout order....and got hungrier while waiting..ankimo ( too early in season), saba, hamachi...both well cut and fresh tasting properly..ala saba well marinated..hamachi not.

                              Excuse me, I have to sweep a small bluefin off the deck..:) that washed on last night.

                    2. re: Buzzy2
                      g
                      Gabatta RE: Buzzy2 Aug 26, 2011 08:04 AM

                      That sounds unlike any experience I have ever had at the CH Oishii location to the point where I was wondering if you were talking about the Hammond Street location I am thinking of.

                      I too have eaten in many sushi/Japanese restaurants in Tokyo, NYC and LA, and agree that the options in Boston can be fairly disappointing (Sushi Island and Chestnut Hill Oishii being major exceptions). Unfortunately my expectations have been adjusted downward. However, the many Nobu's I have visited globally haven't blown my socks off, so what we are looking for may not quite jibe.

                      1. re: Gabatta
                        c
                        cambridgedoctpr RE: Gabatta Aug 26, 2011 08:11 AM

                        disappointing options?

                        do you feel that way about Uni and Sakayana? I buy stuff from sakayana and New Deal; I spend 10% of my time in NYC; I have not found better places there. I am a big fan of NYC.

                        (My partner said of Dean and DeLuca; you can find better, but you will never pay more.)

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                          g
                          Gabatta RE: cambridgedoctpr Aug 26, 2011 08:18 AM

                          I lived across the street from Uni for many years, and was subsequently dragged there often. The food is good, but I feel it's a poor value. I also don't care for the setting (shared space). I will save my Uni and O Ya dough for high end japanese meals in other cities.

                          I am a big fan of Sakayana, however I have had some just OK fish there from time to time. I was also thinking more of full service establishments in my post.

                          Funny D&D comment. You could apply it to many places in Boston as well.

                          1. re: Gabatta
                            c
                            cambridgedoctpr RE: Gabatta Aug 26, 2011 09:31 AM

                            i ask the owner at Sakyana what is best and only buy what he recommends, i eat sashimi and rarely eat sushi. I get fish about once per week and am a big fan.

                            you might also like to check out New Deal that is located on Cambridge Street a few blocks from the green line. I have not been to a better fish monger, and I lived in Chicago, Palo Alto, and spend a lot of time in New York City.

                            There is good sashimi in New York, but I cannot recall a great value though I generally limit my eating to Manhattan.

                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr
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                              Gabatta RE: cambridgedoctpr Aug 26, 2011 09:37 AM

                              Starting to veer a bit OT here, but I have been going to New Deal for many years. I find their sashimi quality fish excellent, but the selection can be a bit limited and I tend to rely on them for fish I will cook. Their prices have crept up steadily over the years to the point that some of their premium fish is a bit overpriced IMO. Also, I was disappointed when my wife came home with a piece of oxidized big eye tuna last month. They took care of us on our next visit, but I expect better for $27/lb. I am happy for their success, however not all of the staff provide the level of service that Carl does.

                              1. re: Gabatta
                                c
                                cambridgedoctpr RE: Gabatta Aug 28, 2011 08:17 AM

                                you have very high standards; where do you eat in NYC? or LA?

                                From your post, i would have guessed that you know a lot more about Japanese food and purveyors of fish than I know. I was posting more for other people.

                                1. re: Gabatta
                                  g
                                  Gabatta RE: Gabatta Sep 15, 2011 01:04 PM

                                  To follow up on this post, New Deal has done an excellent job for us over the past month (average 1-2 visits per week). We bought a beautiful piece of blue fin tuna there yesterday that more than makes up for the oxidized big eye earlier this month. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of tuna I have seen in a few years.

                        2. re: Buzzy2
                          Mike5966 RE: Buzzy2 Aug 26, 2011 10:04 AM

                          I haven't had sushi in the best places in NYC, but I've had a few fabulous meals in Tokyo and around Tsukiji. I do not consider myself a sushi expert by any means, but I think the sushi at most of the better-regarded sushi joints in Boston, though not world-class, is decent to pretty good, not inedible. Our experiences at Oishii couldn't have been THAT different, and I would never describe their sushi as tasteless, terrible, or marginal.

                          In fact, I am glad that my palate for sushi is not as developed or as discerning as yours because it allows me to still enjoy a regular old sushi meal. I'm not talking about hospital cafeteria sushi or Whole Foods sushi, I'm talking about Oishii, Oga's in Natick, Toraya, etc. Decent to very good sushi in my opinion, with well-seasoned rice, constructed well, and at the right temperature. Beyond that, as long as the fish is fresh and not super bottom-shelf stuff, I don't particularly need the fish itself to always be as amazingly good as it was in Tokyo in order for me to really enjoy it, as long as it is made well.

                          1. re: Mike5966
                            b
                            Buzzy2 RE: Mike5966 Aug 29, 2011 02:57 PM

                            If any of my meals at Oishii had been as you describe yours, I would have been happy. Pieces of sushi big enough for three, ice cold fish, lower quality fish (probably due to the large amount per piece) and huge chunks of sashimi (3 or 4 times what I consider normal at good restaurants) made my experience unpleasant. Perhaps all of this has changed...

                      2. re: Buzzy2
                        aadesmd RE: Buzzy2 Aug 29, 2011 02:18 PM

                        Disagree about Oishii. They have been of average size and usually superb.

                  2. Nab RE: galleygirl Jan 26, 2010 07:04 PM

                    I had a hard time trying to find out why Sushi Island was so highly revered around here, and in the end, I never really did find out on my sole visit. The menu reads very well and holds great appeal in the many traditional Japanese fare on offer. Ultimately, I found them to lack greatly in execution. The grilled salmon skin salad ('shake kawa ponzu') was soggy. Ankimo simply sliced and presented without much care. Even the simplest of things, nigiri, rice was haphazardly assembled and lacking the texture and slight tang that it should have had (rice may be simple, but not easy). I never got around to seeing how they do with their dashi. But this is not representative of Japanese food which is as much an art as it is a cuisine, at any price-point. It simply lacked the care and execution to operate at a serious level.

                    I didn't have as much an issue with portion size, though I did note the ankimo portions to be quite small. There is a photo out there that I hope my DC will share.

                    I'm pretty forgiving though, and will likely return at some point after trying Toraya and Shiki, as I still need to satisfy my fix. And I understand that it's certainly not an easy game, world-class Japanese food is not easy to find in the US outside of LA.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Nab
                      galleygirl RE: Nab Jan 26, 2010 08:39 PM

                      And speaking of dashi,the agedashi had no bonito flakes on it!
                      Shiki makes me really happy; hope you like it....

                      1. re: galleygirl
                        yumyum RE: galleygirl Jan 27, 2010 06:09 AM

                        I am eager to try Shiki on your rec GG. What's especially noteworthy there?

                        Here's a picture of the SI ankimo --> http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4002/4...

                        I didn't notice the portion size (a little ankimo goes a long way for me) but you will notice the somewhat sloppy presentation on the plate.

                      2. re: Nab
                        rlh RE: Nab Jan 27, 2010 03:38 AM

                        I love Toraya and get there just about weekly, but hope you don't try it expecting anything near "world-class Japanese food" or disappointment is eminent - it's a solid, consistent neighborhood spot offering freshness and value but not much in terms of innovation/creativity.

                        I have also enjoyed Sushi Island (not in the last couple of months, however) but I do think there's more care and attention to detail in the ingredients and prep for both eat-in and takeaway at Toraya (which is also too small to have apprentices, ever).

                        I think the closest to world class (which would be Ike in LA for me, for example) in our area but still pretty far away is Oishii, Too in Sudbury on a good night - but I haven't been to Shiki...yet.

                        1. re: rlh
                          galleygirl RE: rlh Jan 27, 2010 06:10 AM

                          No, no, I wasn't expecting world class sushi at SI, just very good sushi, at a decent price.. If people had said it was a good neighborhood sushi place, I wouldn't have been as hard on it. Becasue it was; just not the destinatioon place that I imagined it to be...

                          To me, they seemed to be presenting each piece as tho it were a teeny morsel of transcenence, and it just wasn't, so it seemed a little silly..

                          I forgot my 'dessert', a hand roll of salmon and avocado, a guilty pleasure most places. This salmon was pretty flavorless, and I could have done a better job making the handroll...

                          1. re: galleygirl
                            yumyum RE: galleygirl Jan 27, 2010 07:14 AM

                            This thread is reminding me of the mind-blowing meal we had at Jewel Bako -- where every morsel WAS transcendent. I wish I'd had the nerve to take pictures back then.

                            But please, shiki recs?

                            1. re: yumyum
                              g
                              gourmaniac RE: yumyum Jan 27, 2010 07:25 AM

                              My Shiki favorites. The trio of charashi sushi, chawan mushi, broiled hamachi (yellowtail) kama (sea salt only), Toban yaki.

                              1. re: yumyum
                                galleygirl RE: yumyum Jan 27, 2010 07:42 AM

                                I agree with gourmaniac on the hamachi kama, tho that's a favorite for me everywhere...To be perfectly honest, everything I've had there has been very good. The agedashi tofu, of course, which makes everyone a tofu convert. Anything from the chef's specials menu; there's usually an app with 4 or 5 different tastes of fish. A Napoleon made with quail egg (I think) and mountain yam is very good, and pretty impressive.

                                1. re: galleygirl
                                  g
                                  gourmaniac RE: galleygirl Jan 27, 2010 07:54 AM

                                  I agree with galley girl. I forgot about the Napoleon thing. Their specials are ..., well, special. Also, if they have myataki mushroom on the menu (as a special) go for it.

                                  1. re: gourmaniac
                                    yumyum RE: gourmaniac Jan 27, 2010 08:05 AM

                                    Thanks to you both! I quite enjoyed the hamachi kama at sushi island so it's on the short list for comparison. But everything else you recommend sounds great too. Dang -- the challenge will be, as always, stomach space.

                                    1. re: yumyum
                                      g
                                      gourmaniac RE: yumyum Jan 27, 2010 08:19 AM

                                      When I've had hamachi kama at shiki, I've preordered and would suggest you do as well. They only have a couple and have run out more than once. It's a good sign of fresh (not frozen) jaw bone.

                                      1. re: gourmaniac
                                        yumyum RE: gourmaniac Jan 27, 2010 08:20 AM

                                        Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it.

                              2. re: galleygirl
                                c
                                cambridgedoctpr RE: galleygirl Aug 25, 2011 10:51 AM

                                i can recommend Toraya though I find myself going weekly to Sakayana and getting take out sashimi. I think that it is easy enough to cut it oneself though the owner will do it for you.

                                For a treat, i like to go to Clio/Uni.

                                And should I repeat; even the worthy Homer sometimes nods. Horace

                                -----
                                Toraya Restaurant
                                890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                            2. re: Nab
                              opinionatedchef RE: Nab Aug 30, 2011 01:23 PM

                              forget their dashi; that and their agedashi dofu are their weakest links; i've never understood how the owner allows it.major crummy.

                              1. re: Nab
                                tatsu RE: Nab Aug 30, 2011 03:55 PM

                                I feel Toraya's kitchen is the strongest of the bunch, Nab. Sushi Island sushi bar, with Junji at the helm and the right day of the week, well, you shouldn't be disappointed I think!

                                Toraya's sushi is to me, controversial. Without going much into it, I feel it was an intellectual decision on the chef's part and I respect that.

                                -----
                                Toraya Restaurant
                                890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                              2. Food4Thought RE: galleygirl Jan 26, 2010 08:43 PM

                                I've been a long time, staunch supporter of SI and have always enjoyed it in the past.SI is one of the few places I would travel out of the city to quell my sushi cravings ( I live in Boston).

                                That being said, it has been at least 4 months since my last visit and I don't want to marginalize your experience by blindingly waving the "SI can do no wrong-you must have had an off night flag". I have always found Aoki-san to prepare his food w/ the utmost care ( during lunch service you can see him put his apprentices through the paces).

                                Perhaps "the economy" is having an impact SI's quality and portion size.

                                Historically, we seem to share many of the same opinions, so I appreciate your post and will make it a point to re-visit SI soon... just to make sure you're not smokin' crack ;)

                                1. r
                                  RoyRon RE: galleygirl Jan 28, 2010 07:16 AM

                                  I have always been a big fan of Sushi Island so I was disappointed to read about the mediocre experience galleygirl had there recently. I have been going to SI for about 8 years now and have taken Asian business guests there many times. Having lived in Japan for 7 years and been traveling to Japan for almost 20 years I have always enjoyed the variety of fish and the authenticity of SI compared to other so-called Japanese restaurants in the Boston area. Most of them serve a very limited selection of fish and focus on creating makis that appeal to an American clientele but you would have a hard time finding in Japan. I won't try to discount galleygirl's experience and I do think the bad economy has forced many places (SI included) to downsize portions and take additional cost cutting measures that will draw negative reactions from customers but overall SI is still a very good place. My two favorite Japanese places are Sushi Island and Toraya but Toraya is difficult to get in if you go on a busy night and although the food is well prepared and authentic I find their menu a bit limited. Overall I still prefer SI and would continue to recommend it to anyone looking for good Japanese food in Boston.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RoyRon
                                    opinionatedchef RE: RoyRon Sep 22, 2010 11:59 PM

                                    royron, i agree completely with your post; my fav sushi place(i've never been to oishii chestnut hill.)my only complaints about SI are that i am NOT a fan of the live jazz there on Fri and Sat. and I have never understood why they do their agedashi tofu w/o a dashi broth. it's weird and not to my liking.ditto their tempura dipping sauce. but i have no complaints about their sushi. it has, however, been many months since we were there.

                                    one thing i noted in the OP's post is that she went on SUNDAY. In my opinion, not a good idea to test a sushi restnt on a sunday or monday when the fish markets are closed.

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