10 Best Boston Japanese Restaurants Make it Easy to Curb Your Craving For Sushi, Hibachi, Ramen, Yakitori and Shabu Shabu
By Jessica Polizzotti
Boston Local Expert
Boston has seen an influx in Japanese restaurants many that offer raw fish that meets even the highest standards; those that are casual, some that are among the fanciest restaurants in all of Boston, and others that skip the sushi in favor of offering a different take on Japanese. All ranging in price, varying in style but all sharing the common thread of serving the best Japanese to be found in Boston.
If you're craving an upscale experience but really want some of the best sushi you can find you'll find that the Eliot Hotel's hot spot Uni fits the bill. Helmed by famed chef, Ken Oringer. Not only does Uni do sushi right, it was one of the first to lead the charge in late night noodle bowls, offering a steal for a bowl of steaming Ramen.
While Uni is one of the most upscale spots, Yakitori Zai takes a pass on serving sushi in favor of other another trend- skewered grilled meats and bowls of Ramen.
Of course there are also those who have proven themselves to be contenders on all fronts over time. Fugakyu is a Brookline institution that has more than its fair share of regulars who have been flocking their since they opened many years ago to enjoy their sensational sushi, hot pots and Japanese menu items in a setting that transports you to Japan.
One thing is certain, whatever your Japanese craving may be 10best has found a spot where you can fulfill it
A Japanese style steakhouse that also happens to serve some pretty good sushi not far from some of the best shopping in the state sets Samba's Japanese food apart. Area locals flock to Samba on Sundays when kids eat fee with the purchase of an adult entree and the magic show keeps them entertained long after the dinner preparation has ended. Those in the know gather at Samba for good food, drinks and a fun night our with friends. Serving both lunch and dinner, you can enjoy Samba favorites for almost half the price prior to starting your shopping excursion at Route 9's extensive collection of stores in Framingham and neighboring Natick on weekday afternoons. (508-628-0288)
Located in Chestnut Hill, this tiny sushi joint serves up the freshest fare and is accustomed to packing it to go. With only a small sushi bar and a few tables, you can expect a wait at Oishii (or easily enjoy it as take-out). Specialties include creative rolls like the Hamachi Torched Maki (Roe, cucumber & spicy mayo inside & hamachi torched outside w/sweet miso sauce & black tobiko on top), clean cuts of fresh sashimi, and special hand rolls top off the menu here. You'll be happily rewarded for your wait with fish Oishii local fans have grown to love. (617-277-7888)
Moksa is Cambridge hot spot that focuses on Pan- Asian style tapas. Here guests have the flexibility to enjoy multiple Asian styles and flavors throughout their meal. A neighborhood hot spot that has created quite a loyal following from the time it opened its doors, it is always a buzz. An ideal place for perfect for a big group meal or a large social gathering, or for a fun evening with someone special. With a lively bar in front, you can pop in for a drink with friends or even solo, and easily grab some of their specialties. The social atmosphere makes it a good spot for meeting people.Their food is not the only thing winning awards, their beverage program has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine on the "Top 100 wine list" . ((617) 661-4900)
Shiki is not the type of place you'd stroll past and assume they had some of the best Japanese food in all of Boston, but once you eat there, you'll long for a return trip. Traditional Japanese food is served in a simple setting. So authentic is their menu that it is written in both Japanese and English as Bostonians with Japanese roots find Shiki to be a taste of home. Be sure to eat more than just sushi here because that is where you'll be rewarded- lightly fried agedashi tofu, hamachi kama and grilled saba are local favorites. Some even say they make the lightest tempura in all of Boston. (617-738-0200)
6 Yakitori Zai
Yakitori Zai is a South End hot spot that serves grilled skewers of meat, including typically overlooked organs such as heart and kidney and heaping noodle bowls, like the popular Ramen dishes popping up at Asian restaurants throughout Boston, that have locals returning time and again for their favorites. Most items are served individually rather than as a meal, which can cause your bill to rapidly escalate, but if you are craving Japanese. Regulars rave about the Yaki-onigiri : a grilled rice ball, dressed with just the right amount of soy sauce and can't get enough of their tapas. Although sushi is not on their menu, this gem is an ideal spot for a different taste Japanese fare. Make the most of your meal at Yakitori Zai by tasting quite a few menu items and sharing with a group of friends. ((857) 350-4450)
5 Q Restaurant
Q is a hot pot spot that serves excellent sushi as well as other Asian treats. A one stop shop for your Asian cravings they do an excellent Shabu Shabu style meal that is a fun sharing experience for those you are with. Platters of raw meat, seafood, vegetables and noodles arrive at your table ready to be swished in your broth of choice. Selections range from vegetarian based to meat based and from mild to spicy; " premium" broth choices are available for a little extra. Cook and scoop your serving into your bowl for just the right combination of flavors. (857-390-3968)
Misono is a small Asian eatery located in a non-descript strip mall on West Roxbury's VFW Parkway. Don't let the location fool you because inside those doors the food that awaits is amazing! Enjoy one of the Chef's Special Rolls like the Hurricane Roll -tender lightly flavored sushi surrounds a mix of spicy crab and salmon salad that is then topped with sweet and crispy taro strings. Or indulge in one of the delightful appetizers that grace the menu. The Spicy Scallop Trio contains 3 bite sized morsels of lightly torched scallops atop perfectly prepared rice finished with tri-color tobiko and the perfect amount of spicy sauce. (617-325-9919, 617-325-9966)
3 O Ya
A shoji-screened window and a small sign are the only indications that this nondescript brick building houses some of the finest sashimi in Boston. Chef and owner Tim Cushman works with his chefs to fuse exotic flavors with the purity of small morsels of raw fish. Expect small plates like wild bluefin chutoro tartare served with a homemade ginger kimchee jus and wild spot prawn with garlic butter, white soy and preserved yuzu. Of course, there's a price to pay for these bold and delightful bites - each plate starts around $20, and you'll need several to constitute a meal. (617-654-9900)
2 Uni Sashimi Bar
Uni, located in the lounge of Clio, is a hip Back Bay gathering spot. energetic yet intimate, with a reverence for the food and a large selection of sakes. Sashimi is imported from Tokyo's Tskuji market, as well as local sources, and is paired with a menu of distinctive cocktails. Select a variety of their amazing offerings to create one perfect sushi meal or enjoy a small bite as a snack. Unique offerings change often, reflecting the Chef's whim, but may include Sanma (Pacific Saury) with umeboshi, huckleberry, sea grapes and pickled jalepeno and Shiro Ika (Japanese White Squid) with spicy peanuts, tamarind and Thai basil. Guaranteed to leave you licking your lips! (617-536-7200)
Fugakyu in Brookline's Coolidge Corner is a favorite for many Boston locals since it opened its doors. Everything is perfectly prepared, and their fun variations of rolls, which use their super fresh fish, are served in your setting of choice: private booth, tatami room, a table or simply at the sushi bar. Sashimi here has a crisp clean ocean taste that will have you wanting more, but save room for something else because aside from sushi Fugakyu also serves Japanese appetizers and main courses that are worth a try. Shumai steamed to perfection and gyoza fried to render the exterior crisp while the interior remains tenderly stuffed with flavorful pork and vegetables, and meat and noodle entrees that will make an impression. (617-734-1268, 617-738-1268)
About Jessica Polizzotti
Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand. Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings. Although Jessica has been a world traveler since her teens, her favorite trip may always be her Italian honeymoon. Living in a city that allows her to experience a change in seasons equals an opportunity to enjoy a shift in activities. As the old New England cliché says, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”
Read more about Jessica Polizzotti here.