Chestnut Hill, MA
There is something magical about sushi. Sushi has such rich and delicate flavors and when done right, can affect you like a great painting or song or movie. I don’t entirely understand how, but after leaving Oishii in Chestnut Hill, I was a little drunk. Maybe euphoric is a better word than drunk, but you've probably got my meaning.
Oishii (there are two locations, the other is in Sudbury, MA) is tiny. A sushi counter that seats 12, at most, and just one single table. Zagat's Boston guide lists this as the ONLY 29 for food in Boston, but the décor gets a 13. On a Sunday afternoon, the place was pretty full. Three sushi chefs and two servers worked diligently and in perfect rhythm. Our seats at the end of the sushi bar afforded us an excellent view, and we sat like wide eyed children waiting to see what tempting creation would roll off the fingers of the sushi chef next. The menu is extensive, and I can barely remember what our ordering process consisted of but it involved lots of low moans and exhilarated readings. When we found a menu item that sounded good, its ingredients were read aloud as though we were reading to one another a nostalgic children's story. We were hooked before the first bite.
It may not be fair to call our first two rolls appetizers, but this is how our meal progressed. We had a Shrimp Tempura Maki (rice on the outside) and an Unagi and Avocado maki. I have had the Tempura Maki before, but it usually seems excessive. By that I mean that it seems that good tempura, lightly battered and just the littlest bit of crunch, should stand on its own as a good dish. To me the tempura maki always seemed like a TurDucken…or as Moe says at a fancy Springfield Restaurant "Bring me the best dish you have stuffed with the second best dish you have." Consequently, they end up with lobster stuffed with tacos. Oishii changed my mind on this front (not about lobster stuffed with taco's though), and I loved the Shrimp Tempura Maki as much as any roll I have ever tasted. It was just the right amount of salty and crunchy, the shrimp was fresh and the tastes worked perfectly. The Unagi roll was very good, but overshadowed by the true greatness of the other roll. Unagi (Eel) is a wonderful thing, and I implore you to try it if you haven't taken the leap. Generally it is cooked in a sweet sauce and its tastes are really much different than other sushi.
For dinner we decided to get the most bang for our buck by getting the Regular Sushi Dinner for two. It gave us two pieces of 6 or 7 different kinds of Nigiri, and two rolls. The assortment of fish was excellent, and I didn't even make my normal request for no octopus. I have never gotten used to the toughness of octopus, but I figured I would take another shot since everything was so fresh here. Now, I am a sushi lover. I like to have it as often as I can afford it, and rarely does it surprise me. The Shrimp Tempura Maki was surprise number one, but the second surprise came in an unexpected form: Yellowtail. I like yellowtail a lot but if it sits around too long it gets too fishy. The yellowtail (my mouth actually is watering right now) melted in my mouth. I cant say for certain if I chewed at all, but I know it just melted away. Honestly, I felt privileged to have eaten it. I felt a better man for having experienced it. That’s how good this meal was.
Oishii was not that expensive for some of the best sushi I have had anywhere. 60 bucks fed two of us with drinks (non-alcoholic) and tip. I would say these prices were on par with any respectable sushi restaurant in Boston.
This may be one of the best sushi meals I have ever eaten. If you enjoy sushi and live with an hour of Boston, make it you business to go to Oishii.