I spent a week-long trip in Japan drinking miso soup like water, admiring elaborate bento boxes filled with chilled soba, and delving into sweet deep-fried pork alongside velvety potato salad (Japanese mayonnaise sets it apart from our own all-too-familiar barbecue companion). As I comfortably sat cross-legged on a cushion alongside my friends, I knew I would never again pass up the soy sauce for the already flavorful rice that in Takashima was being grown just a dozen yards away from my dinner table.
Once I returned to Boston, I hopped online to pinpoint what would be my new go-to restaurant. I was already running low on green tea Kit Kats and needed an authentic Japanese fix. Stumbling across headlines like “connoisseurs find sushi in Boston is often lacking” and disappointing Yelp reviews, I was relieved to finally find an alternative.
On a bustling Brighton Avenue in Allston, Fish Market Sushi Bar is truly a hole in the wall. However, it bears notice because of the hefty line of people waiting patiently on the sidewalk on a Sunday afternoon to score a table in this 22-seat dining room. Owned by Kin Chan and Jacky Poon, Fish Market opened its doors in 2010 and now serves customers Tuesday through Sunday. The next time you’re visiting Boston, it’s well worth a visit.
Newspaper clippings of positive food reviews are pinned on the windows, and inside turquoise cloth chairs contrast with the clean white and wood-striped wall behind the bar. With tables large enough only for four, the restaurant is intimate but not crammed.
While maintaining its chic and minimal Japanese style, the restaurant doesn’t completely stray from its New England roots. Tourists may be surprised to taste fresh Maine-imported shrimp in their rolls, but Boston always finds a way to slyly brand its cuisine.
Frequent diners at Fish Market rave about the bright lemony avocado ball stuffed with tuna, white tuna and wasabi roe. Almost every dish seems to have a surprise, whether it’s infused with sweet potato or presented on a glossy scallop shell.
However, it is the sushi, sashimi and maki options that monopolize most of the lengthy menu. With innovative ingredients like quail egg, sake salad and truffle peelings, these piled-high rolls are carefully assembled behind the bar. Decked in crisp white jackets, the chefs craftily slice vibrant tuna and fresh salmon as a few lucky diners can look on.
Enveloped by salty seaweed cones, the hand-roll sushi was almost too exquisite to touch. Almost. While the protruding cucumber stalks gave this sizable rice-filled roll a desirable crunch, they made it impossible for me to daintily eat my meal. However, the sesame-sprinkled salmon was finely cut, and the serving was quite generous for its $5 price tag. Garnished with scallions and served with thin avocado slices, the accompanying snow crab hand-roll presented a creamy alternative to the silky salmon. It was also easier to eat.
Entrees like udon noodles, simmered beef and tempura eel are prepared in the back kitchen. The grilled salmon teriyaki harmoniously pairs its tangy sauce with the mild, tender fish. Served alongside rice, vegetables and miso soup, this dish was enough to please even my southern cornbread-accustomed friend.
For dessert, diners can opt for mochi or ice cream, fried or unfried. With palate-cleansing flavors like green tea, mango, red bean and sesame, it’s difficult to resist throwing in the $3 to properly finish the meal. And while only one waiter mans the floor, service is still speedy. But despite the growing crowd outside, we’re not rushed.
While I’m still in pursuit of that luscious potato salad I so thoroughly enjoyed overseas, Fish Market Sushi Bar is around the corner to provide me with any other authentic Japanese cuisine when I’m feeling nostalgic.
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