Sono Sushi again
I tried Sono Sushi about a week ago with a friend and really enjoyed it so last night I decided to give it another try. I wasn't disappointed. Started with a mixed assortment of sashimi and left the selection up to Tom, the head chef. There were five different types of fish, each one very fresh and well sliced. I followed the sashimi with an order of the Age Dashi Tofu which I also had on my first visit.
The highlight of the evening however was the Hamachi Kama which is listed on the appetizer section of the menu for $10.95. Hamachi Kama is one of my all time favorites and this one was the best version I have ever had in Boston. I don't know where their source is but this was a very large, thick serving, perfectly cooked, not overly salty and served with a nice ponzu dipping sauce. It was really large enough to share between two people. I will keep returning to Sono Sushi just for this dish alone.
The restaurant was very busy but the service was still very good and friendly. If it stays this way I'm sure they will do very well.
A friend and I checked out Sono Sushi late night. We are Toraya devotees but did not feel too guilty since Toraya is closed on Mondays. We grabbed prime seats at the sushi bar and ordered omakase from Tom, the head sushi chef. He was delighted. From memory:
• Sashimi of mackerel with microgreens and some sort of sauce
• Sashimi of white tuna (which seemed different from the escolar I remember having in CA) with garlic sauce, tiny shreds of iced onions and something else I am forgetting
• Spoons filled with some mildy spicy diced fish mixed with tobiko, topped with avocado and more tobiko
• Sashimi of yellowtail, quite plain – could have used some soy sauce but he had intimidated us just a little by repeatedly telling us “no soy”
• Maki with garlic sauce, tiny shreds of iced onions and something else I am forgetting (same garnish as white tuna) – originally he gave us one large maki to share, telling us proudly that it was very fresh scallops. Except I had told him at the outset that I am allergic to shellfish. He was horrified and apologetic when I reminded him and quickly made me a different maki with the same garnish. They both involved torched salmon on top and tempura crunch inside. My DC’s (which she was happy to devour on her own) was thickly filled with scallop, mine was less thickly filled with something I couldn’t quite make out, but it was quite tasty. I think there were little heaps of salmon roe on the makis as well.
• Striped bass nigiri with juice and zest of lime juice and sea salt – this was our “dessert” and a truly lovely, refreshing way to end an excellent meal.
While there was not a huge selection of fish varieties, it was all pristinely fresh and nicely presented. And while I could quibble with the repeat sauce/garnish on two courses, nothing can replace the delightful hospitality and solicitude of Tom, who kept checking in with us as to pacing, how we liked everything, what fish we preferred, etc. We were also somewhat childishly fascinated with the “light show” presented by the ever-changing color of much of the lighting and thought they had done a nice job with the décor. On a very down note, the rest of the staff seemed both harried and untrained. It was extremely difficult to get drinks and refills. Tea was served in a diner-type handled mug with a teabag in it and refills (when we could get them) were hot water only. How hard is it to use a teapot of tea, even if it has been made with teabags in the back? Unlike another poster we were not crazy about the house hot sake which seemed very sweet. However, this would not deter our return, it only makes it very clear that the sushi bar is the place to sit. Also, I am not sure if this was promotional pricing or a mistake, but our meal was incredibly reasonable (we had not asked the price of omakase because we frankly didn’t care): $80 total (before generous tip). Sorry for the very long review.
Hi. I have to agree with your comments about the waitstaff and the tea. Although the waitstaff are all very friendly and courteous it is sometimes difficult to get their attention if you are sitting at the sushi bar. I was also kind of surprised when I ordered tea at the end of a very nice dinner and it was just a poor quality tea bag in a regular tea cup with a handle on it. Very un-Japanese. I enjoy a cup of really good Japanese Sencha at end of a sushi dinner and it doesn't seem like it should be that much trouble for a place as good as Sono is to not have good tea. This is a minor gripe and like you I really like Sono and Tom is fantastic.
I see that they have "white tuna" on the menu. After the Globe articles about fish mislabeling and how almost all "white tuna" is really (ick) escolar, I'm not exactly trusting of it.
Anyone with a good palate know if they are selling real white tuna or just escolar? (Or, on the flip side, have you had the escolar reaction?)
from what i understand, "white tuna" IS escolar.
i did quite a bit of escolar reading 5 yrs ago when i got wicked sick in CA after eating some (but not when i had had it before). It is a very big, hot topic in the seafood world. The fish is eaten by the ton in the Australia area, where it lives.
The prevailing (last time i checked; i have not researched it lately)opinion is that you are not likely to have a negatove reaction to it (severe diarhea) unless you eat 6 ounces and over at one time. i am guessing that a typical piece of nigiri is, what, 1/4- 1/2 ounce? escolar is a really delicious fish, raw or cooked. delicious as in rich, like hamachi. its flavor is very distinct (as in bluefish and tuna are very distinct.) hope you try a piece and like it!
p.a. do a CH search and you will find aLOT of discussion.
Made it there tonight as a break from the storm - and I am really impressed! The food was outstanding (beautifully presented with great flavors) and everyone working there was very friendly and helpful.
At the recommendation of Tom the sushi chef, we had the cajun tuna tatar (sic) appetizer - it was a large portion of gorgeous, nicely seasoned seared tuna topped with tobiko and daikon with a great dipping sauce.
The hamachi kama IS indeed all that's described here - huge, fresh, perfectly seasoned and cooked - extremely satisfying! The mackerel nigiri was also pristinely fresh. The ama ebi were GIANT - and fresh / sweet - and the head portions were expertly fried to a crisp - completely delicious - a total bargain at $5-6! I don't understand how they have them "from Maine" when I thought the season was cancelled, but I am sure glad they were there!
We enjoyed our Sono Special designer maki roll as well and will continue to dabble in that part of th menu in the future based upon it. The Money Bags appetizer recommended by our quite enthusiastic server was a good fried twist on crab rangoon, but probably not a repeat for us.
The house sake was deemed "better than Toraya's" (which we like) and the small menu of bar creations are really well-balanced and pair with the menu nicely. We appreciated the samples of the lychee martini and blueberry lime rickey, neither or which we would order ever (due to my strong personal aversion to artificially-flavored spirits that I probably should get over), but having tasted them will now consider seriously when eating this type of food.
Host owner Terry was extremely hospitable and gracious, very clearly committed to making his customers happy and ensuring they come back. We will return - and can't wait to bring friends as well. This is a totally different experience from our beloved Toraya in a good, diverse way (and they take reservations!) - Arlington needs more options like this!
I'm so glad that you concur with my review of the Hamachi Kama at Sono. It really is the best version of this dish I have had in the Boston area.
Tom and Terry are going out of their way to provide very high customer satisfaction and they make dining at Sono a very pleasant experience.
Like many others on this board I too really like Toraya because it reminds me of being in Japan. Toraya has a more traditional menu which I like but at times it is difficult to get into in the evening so I usually end up going there for lunch. Sono is much larger and has a more extensive menu plus a full bar so I will probably be going there for most dinners.
Tried to go a week ago Friday night, but the wait was an hour for a table for four. Received their takeout menu in the mail (glad to know "we delivery") - it appears just about 100% Japanese and priced at or slightly above Toraya - eager to to try it and hoping it will keep impressing! Sounds really promising!