HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Sono Sushi again

r
RoyRon Feb 1, 2014 08:06 AM

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.

  1. digga Mar 12, 2014 05:49 PM

    We discovered on our 3rd, a few weeks ago with friends, to avoid kitchen items. I and one friend went with sashimi, which was fine, while B got an over-priced and forgettable fish prep from the kitchen, and the 4th friend had atrociously-gluey looking veggie noodles. Bad enough that I felt embarrassed. We'll take our own advice and sit at the bar, order hamachi kama and stick with nigiri/sashimi for me, maki for B.

    We're still glad it's in the neighborhood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: digga
      opinionatedchef Mar 12, 2014 10:43 PM

      sounds like a very smart way to go. thx for telling us.

    2. e
      Edokko Mar 9, 2014 10:24 AM

      I have to file a dissent on this one. My family and I tried a number of dishes on the menu and none rose past the level of "O.K." Particular disappointments were the toughness of the ika on the nigiri and the execution of the chirashi deluxe. In Japan, chirashizushi is a delicate, festive affair, with thin slices of sashimi (and perhaps ikura) sprinkled along with julienned egg and vegetable strips on a bed of sushi rice. Sono's version had thick chunks of raw fish (and a few egg cubes, like miniature dice) as toppings. The visual aesthetic was subpar, but more importantly the large chunks of fish made it impossible to achieve the "mouth full of many joys" aspect of chirashi that is key to its attraction. The miso eggplant appetizer was also of indifferent quality (watery, bland flesh, lacking miso punch), and the uni nigiri, albeit of generous portion, did not pack quite the briny richness that one expects from the best quality sea urchin.

      Unfortunately, they did not have the hamachi kama, so I did not get to sample it. Instead, the waitress recommended the miso sea bass, which had even less of a miso kick than the eggplant. (If you're going to advertise a dish as "miso something" it better fulfill its promise!) The one dish that was fairly good was the crabmeat naruto, although the accompanying jalapeno miso sauce was actually slices of jalapeno plus tiny drops of bland sauce.

      Bottom line regarding Arlington Japanese restaurants: Sono is a notch above Mr. Sushi, but still significantly below the quality and authenticity level of Toraya.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Edokko
        opinionatedchef Mar 9, 2014 08:18 PM

        edokko, would you plse remind me; did you also not care much for Sushi Island?

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          e
          Edokko Mar 10, 2014 07:22 AM

          I didn't get the chance to try Sushi Island, so no opinion there.

        2. re: Edokko
          r
          RoyRon Mar 10, 2014 08:51 AM

          As much as I like Sono Sushi I do agree with Edokko that the fish is sliced too thickly even on the sashimi and nigiri sushi. I guess some people would feel that they are getting good value for their money because they are being served large, thick slices of fish but as Edokko says, it loses the "mouth feel" that is one of the joys of popping a whole piece of nigiri sushi in your mouth and savoring the combination of the fish and the rice. It's too bad you weren't able to try the Hamachi Kama because I have found it to be an outstanding dish at Sono

          1. re: Edokko
            rlh Mar 10, 2014 02:43 PM

            I agree it is not at all authentic in the same way as Toraya - their agedashi tofu, tomago, and chirashi (quite a packed little jewel box!), knifework, and tempura preparations all outshine Sono, but it remains a welcome and stepped up addition to the Asian dining options in Arlington for me!

            We went again last night and once again had high expectations exceeded. Terry at the front and Tom the sushi chef could not be friendlier and more concerned about our enjoyment and satisfaction throughout the meal. The mai tai was not old school authentic like I make at home (few are, so I don't expect that) and had pineapple juice in it, but it paired well with the food and I'd order it again.

            We were bummed out that the one hamachi kama for the day was already gone (7p) - apparently that's it - 1 per day as they only use it fresh from the yellowtail they are prepping for service. The chicken lettuce wraps were just OK and we finished them, but not a repeat for us (wet romaine and tiny chopped chicken and veggies in sweet / soy-based sauce without tons of flavor).

            The amaebi was again the star of the show for me - two huge, succulent sweet shrimp nigiri pieces accompanied by huge, crispy fried heads and a sweet chile dipping sauce - for $4.50! Tom said they are toying with trying to get live ones in season with a tank behind the sushi bar - I can't wait!

            The sushi nigiri was all pristine (black sea bass and salmon, in particular), the negihamachi maki was particularly fresh and flavorful, and the salmon roe was declared "best I have ever had" (Tom said it was very fresh from king salmon). The dragon roll was a nice version of one of the ubiquitous kitchen sink preps (I am not judging and I liked it, but it won't ever be on the Toraya menu, for example) of maki with spicy salmon inside and eel and avocado on the outside with a nice sauce.

            The prices are very fair, so we left full and happy for about $90 including plenty of house sake and a generous tip. We will be back soon.

            1. re: rlh
              g
              Glicoman Mar 13, 2014 04:10 AM

              If it's "fresh from the yellowtail they are prepping for service" shouldn't there be two kama?

              1. re: Glicoman
                rlh Mar 14, 2014 02:40 PM

                The one time I had it, it was a huge portion in spite of the $10.95 pricetag and comprised of two large sections - I think it was the entire collar, but maybe only half - the price would be fair (not amazing) for only one of the sections - or maybe they just mean they had one hamachi that day and all portions of kama had been sold by 7p?

            2. re: Edokko
              l
              Lagrangian Mar 12, 2014 05:08 PM

              It's interesting hearing all these comments about authenticity or lack thereof. It's not something I'd have even realized.

              I can pass along that a Japanese-born acquaintance of mine was also complaining about the fish pieces being too big and complained that the hamachi in the negihamachi roll was in chunks instead of (more authentically) diced. Overall she did generally like Sono, though.

              A couple of my own less intriguing observations:
              - I found the sushi rice to be noticeably blander than many other places I've been too (certainly compared to Toraya). Less salt? Less vinegar? (Is mirin used in sushi rice?)
              - I found their miso soup to be very bland with not much miso flavor at all.

            3. GretchenS Feb 18, 2014 04:34 PM

              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.

              3 Replies
              1. re: GretchenS
                r
                RoyRon Feb 18, 2014 07:14 PM

                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.

                1. re: GretchenS
                  opinionatedchef Feb 18, 2014 07:59 PM

                  gretchen,
                  i always enjoy your articulate reviews and long is GOOD in my book. (Bring on the details!)
                  thx much.

                  1. re: GretchenS
                    opinionatedchef Mar 12, 2014 10:59 PM

                    gretchen, you have reminded me to ask something here.
                    You mention having this delicious meal on Monday.
                    I can't get out of my mind one of Tony Bourdain's warnings to never eat seafood in a restnt on Monday, because the fish markets are closed on Monday.

                    Now, i do know that a number of sushi fish are usually sold/kept frozen: hamachi ("You can't get quality fresh hamachi in Boston"), unagi, salmon (briefly flash frozen to kill parasites). If that's true, then the Monday rule would seem to be irrelevant for these fish. But what about all the other types of seafood? Saturday delivery? Sunday, Monday?

                    And I have also been curious about seafood on Mondays in non-sushi restnts. These small artisinal chef/owned places that are open on Mondays; when do they rcve the seafood that is served on Monday? Are fish wholesale markets no longer closed on Mondays?
                    Anybody know? TIA.

                  2. l
                    Lagrangian Feb 16, 2014 06:54 PM

                    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?)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Lagrangian
                      opinionatedchef Feb 16, 2014 09:56 PM

                      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.

                      1. re: Lagrangian
                        e
                        Edokko Mar 11, 2014 02:52 PM

                        Their in-restaurant menu now says "Escolar" instead of "White Tuna." They even have a straightforward warning after the item that it might make you ill. Full points to them for disclosure.

                      2. rlh Feb 5, 2014 10:19 PM

                        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!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rlh
                          r
                          RoyRon Feb 6, 2014 10:34 AM

                          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.

                        2. rlh Feb 1, 2014 08:53 PM

                          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!

                          1. opinionatedchef Feb 1, 2014 07:53 PM

                            Yay! hamachi kama is My Love's fav, so we will be there soon! will save you a seat!

                            1. s
                              Swankalicious Feb 1, 2014 11:42 AM

                              Very good to hear that there's a promising alternative to Toraya.

                              Show Hidden Posts