If you’re like me, you love sushi. So, I took the liberty of putting together a list of the best sushi restaurants in Boston. If you haven’t made it to all of these spots yet, I strongly suggest getting out there and checking them out.
#1 Fugakyu Japanese Cuisine
1280 Beacon Street Brookline, MA 02446-3718 (617) 734-1268 – www.fugakyu.net
Though you may get in trouble if you say its name really fast, “Fugakyu ” reportedly means “house of exquisite elegance” in Japanese. And elegant it is, if your idea of aesthetic refinement encompasses tatami rooms screened in rice paper, kimono-clad waitresses murmuring into headsets and a sushi bar surrounded by its own miniature moat (on which wooden boats circle aimlessly, as if to taunt the fresh fish they carry). If it sounds more like Six Flags than feng shui, it is: one half expects karate fights to break out in the darkened cocktail lounge. But this kabuki kitsch is the perfect complement to a menu full of high notes, from authentic appetizers like usuzukuri (white fish with ponzu sauce and green onions) to eclectic sushi such as “caterpillar maki” (a roasted eel roll topped with ridged avocado slices). Though the sushi here can’t compare to the utopian fare at Oishii, Fugakyu backs up its raw options with a full slate of Japanese specialties — among them lightly battered tempura, grilled sea bass marinated in miso paste and a stir-fry with rare matsutake mushrooms. Adding to its eccentric appeal is the fact that the kitchen stays open past midnight, making it the lone option for after-hours dining in conservative Coolidge Corner.
#2 Oishii Sushi Bar
612 Hammond Street Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 (617) 277-7888 – www.oishiisushi.chance365.net
What have the people of Chestnut Hill done to deserve a restaurant as good as Oishii? Every year when the local rags speak of electing Fugakyu as Boston’s best sushi bar, suburban diners scratch their heads in confusion, while thanking their lucky stars that Oishii will remain a secret for another season. It’s truly a miracle of mis-marketing that this diminutive dining room, where Clio/Uni chef Ken Oringer often stops to shoot the sheesh about sashimi, is not even on the map for most Bostonians. Even bracketing its glamorous connections (not only is Oringer a fan, but the owner is an alumnus of New York’s Nobu) and ignoring its cult following, it’s still obvious that this restaurant is head, tail and fins above Fugakyu and all other comers. Among the more than 35 makimono (rolled sushi) on the menu are options both traditional and unexpected, including an assortment of rolls invented by customers. But raw fish isn’t the only thing to rave about here: the shu mai is to die for and the hot dishes (from udon noodles to spicy soups) put the entrees at nearby Jae’s to shame. Despite its relative obscurity, Oishii is always mobbed with regulars (an inevitability in a restaurant with less than 15 seats), but you’ll be the rare exception to the rule if you don’t consider the food worth waiting for.
#3 Douzo Modern Japanese
131 Dartmouth Street Boston, MA (617) 859-8885 – www.douzosushi.com
One of the city’s most modern Asian restaurants, Douzo serves inventive sushi rolls and wicked house cocktails in mostly black, New York lounge-style environs. Indecisive diners select from a lengthy menu of familiar and unique offerings. Fresh veggie and seafood tempura–from Japanese yam to eel–are served a la carte. Several torch and hand rolls jockey for attention, and one of the many offbeat options is the pizza roll (tomato, asparagus, cucumber wrap and shrimp, toasted with cheese).
#4 Ginza Japanese Restaurant
16 Hudson Street, Boston, MA (617) 338-2261
Its offshoots in Brookline and Watertown get all the press, but Chinatown’s Ginza is still the city’s premier destination for after-hours sushi. The decor is a little dated (think Tokyo, circa 1990) and the lighting could make Julia Roberts look jaundiced, but such failings are easily forgiven once one samples standouts like spider maki (avocado, cucumber and softshell crab tempura) and Boston Roll (lobster, crab, lettuce and roe). In keeping with its status as Chinatown’s first Japanese restaurant, Ginza boldfaces its Japaneseness with kimono-clad waitresses, a tatami room and an encyclopedic selection of sake. Though purists might frown on the menu’s pandering to American palates, its authenticity is affirmed by a clientele dense with Japanese expats. Those reluctant to go raw can explore the kitchen’s cooked options — among them a stellar kabayaki-broiled eel and nabemono barbecue engineered to awaken the drowsiest of after-hours diners.
1166 Washington Street Boston, MA 02118-4113 (617) 482-8868 – www.oishiiboston.com
If you have not been there, chances are you know someone who has, and they can’t wait to go back. This hidden gem, located in the lobby area of the Westin Hotel Copley Square, serves up the finest sushi and Japanese cuisine in town, maybe any town this side of Tokyo. With both a local fascination and an international repeat clientele, this 41- seat, quaint and timeless restaurant is a popular staple that keeps on reinventing itself. The philosophy is simple: Osushi’s commitment to authentic Japanese cuisine is its secret. You will NOT find “fusion” sushi here, but the menu offers unmatched creativity, and guests will admire the “raw” sophistication of the pallet of a culture which has enjoyed the art of sushi for millennia. If you’ve not been to Osushi, you’ve simply got to go!
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