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Entries in Japanese (3)

Friday
Nov022012

Sachi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Sachi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

 200 Union St., #106
Westborough MA, 01581

508-366-7771 (No website.)

Another restaurant has opened in the Westborough Food Court known as Bay State Commons.

Sachi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar (Sachi) is the latest entry, and this review incorporates two visits.

A dinner companion and I happened upon Sachi somewhat by mistake.  We walked to Bay State Common for dinner, not sure where we might go.  We walked past Tavolino, and Ted’s, decided to pass Panera and started on the way to Hisa (outside Bay State Commons and a short stroll away.)  As we were passing Sachi, we decided to give it a try.

Sachi is the third restaurant for Jin Chen, with the other two operating under the name Shinto in Strongsville, Ohio (near the country’s North Coast, Cleveland) and Naperville, Illinois (near Chicago.) 

The $300,000 build out cost (previously covered in Patch) yields an appealing aesthetic.  When entering the restaurant, the rear lobby wall (made up of pennies) is eye catching.  The interior is to the darker side, with highlights of blue and some light wood.

On my first visit, we went with three sushi rolls and some wine:

 

 

  • Westboro (of course) – Yellowtail, tempura flakes, avocado topped with shrimp, eel, salmon, tuna, tobiko, scallion and wasabi mayo & eel sauce
  • Sweetheart – spicy tuna avocado topped with tuna in a heart shape with chili sauce
  • Spider – fried soft shell crab, tobiko, kaiware, avocado, and cucumber with wasabi and eel sauce.

 

The sushi was fabulous…with the Westboro being my favorite (it has a little crunch I like.)

Where the restaurant missed was service.  It took forever to get our wine and sushi rolls, with long gaps between seeing our waiter and not.  Then the bus staff went into high gear, repeatedly offering to clear the table even though we clearly were not finished.

At one point, I asked one of the bus boys if they were out of dishes, and my dinner companion immediately consolidated the sushi to one plate.  Assured they were not, we were amused when another bus boy came by in 30 seconds offering to clear the dinner plates so we could eat off the serving plate.

As we were leaving, my dinner companion got to the door, turned around, smiled and said, “Amber light” with a twinkle in her eye.  I was again in the conundrum of how long do you let a restaurant settle in before doing a review.

The intrepid Gotta-Eat blogger, Bruce Tretter, and I returned for a resampling.  While waiting outside for Bruce a couple walked up and asked if I had tried the place and if it was any good.  “The food is good, they are still perfecting their service.”  Five minutes later, they came back out commenting, “They have 4 people at the counter debating why their menus are different.  They are not ready.”

When Bruce arrived, I gave him fair warning and he was still up for the night.  It turns our neither one of us are fans of the hibachi grill, so we sat down at the sushi bar.

The first thing we noticed was the unfamiliarity of the staff.  Bruce asked for sake, and the menu was consulted for options.  I was curious about the Japanese beer, hoping for a Sapporo, Kirin or an Asahi.  The pause told me a Coors Light would be just fine.  My bottled beer was delivered without a glass, something we both noticed.

The sushi was excellent.  It was enjoyable sitting at the sushi bar watching the rolls be prepared.

What was very odd was the plated dishes were put directly in front of us on a raised platform, forcing the servers to reach around Bruce or I to get their plates.  As we were preparing to leave, Bruce mentioned this to the manager who apologized profusely.  Apparently a side area is supposed to be used.

Bruce agreed with the Amber Light characterization.  In fairness, these visits occurred between the soft opening and the hard opening.  The food is really quite good and enjoyable.  They need to work out some of their service kinks to attain a Green Light.

Hours                          

Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m

 

Sachi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar gets an Amber Light – Use caution. 

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

Friday
May042012

SHIRO Japanese Restaurant

SHIRO Japanese Restaurant

3 Gates Pond Road
Berlin, MA 01503

(978) 562 – 6771

This blog has covered everything from high end pricy steakhouses, to drive-thrus.  And while we may not always agree, we always try to have fun!

FUN was the operative word when dining at SHIRO Japanese Restaurant on a recent Saturday night.  I had no idea where this restaurant was located, and immediately headed off to the Solomon Pond Mall area.  Gina, the voice in my GPS, stopped just short of a cattle prod to convince me I really wanted Rt 495, and to get off at Rt 62.  SHIRO is literally on the corner of Rt 62 and Gates Pond Road.

A personal note:  My friends telling me about SHIRO said it was a restaurant in a house, where the owner lived upstairs.  While I’ve been to other restaurants with on premises owners, my friends are funsters…and so I made up an entire scenario in my mind.  As in Tokyo, I was expecting a traditional Japanese tatami seating area (and went with “good socks” so I could respectfully remove my shoes, comfortable pants, etc.) so I could dine sitting on the tatami mat.  Suffice to say I made the whole thing up for no reason.

Yes, SHIRO Japanese Restaurant is in a big old house, with a gravel parking lot.  Each room has been outfitted with “American height” tables and chairs.  While there are some Japanese decorating elements, this place does not scream anything more than “eclectic.”

Arriving for a 6:00 reservation, we were quickly seated in one of the rooms.  Our casually dressed waiter was very knowledgeable of all things SHIRO…sharing the owner Yoshiko is almost 90, and her son does the cooking.  The restaurant was established in 1976, before the interstate (495) came through.

My friends are great “sharers”, making an evening at a Japanese restaurant very enjoyable.  Everything ordered becomes community property, be it the hot Sake, the plum wine (declared the best in the area), or the entrees. 

We started with green mussels, kaki fry and shumai.  The baked green mussels are served on a shell, and were delectable.  I am not generally and oyster lover and the deep fried oyster in the kaki fry proved the adage ‘anything fried is good’.  The steamed shrimp dumplings were very tasty, and quickly disappeared.

Between the appetizers and the next round, a “Sara Moon” was ordered.  Sara Moon is an iced cocktail native to SHIRO, created with Sake and Plum wine.  Again, this was a shared beverage among the adults.  The Sara Moon took me to a warm beach, watching the sunset, Jimmy Buffett playing softly in the background, and generally enjoying life.  In this particular fantasy, I am able to walk home and not drive, as the sake/plum wine combo could be lethal after a couple!

Back at SHIRO, the entrees are being served.

The Avocado salad was a huge hit, with a fellow diner declaring she could drink the dressing.  Our waiter was coy when asked what went into it…indicating vegetables, some sake, etc. (all secret.) 

We ordered an entrée negimaki, a sirloin rolled with scallions and broiled.  The entrée gave the table some miso soup, rice, noodles, bean sprouts and dessert; we felt this was quite affordable at $21.

Not settling on a single entrée for four adults, we also had some maki sushi, including the very pastel Cherry Blossom and Autumn Roll.

Desert was ice cream:  green tea, ginger, and red bean.  We appreciated the flavors and textures of each and were unable to come to consensus on the “best one.”

The only thing possibly making for a more enjoyable evening would be a Lazy Susan for the table, and we spied one at a large table as we were leaving.

For four adults, including drinks, the tab was one hundred bucks.  Not bad for a night out, and certainly explaining why a large number of young people were patronizing the restaurant, reminding me of the clientele of a college town restaurant…

In summary, convenient, very good, and best enjoyed with a group of sharers…SHIRO Japanese Restaurant will get a return visit.

Hours

  • Tuesday - Sunday          5:00 PM to 10:00 PM     
  • Closed Monday

SHIRO Japanese Restaurant gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

Friday
Mar232012

Yama Zakura

Yama Zakura

369 West Main Street
Northborough MA 01532

(508) 393-4187

After going to Joeys with Jess and Ann Fidrych of Chet’s Diner, we exchanged pleasantries about doing another review together. As I usually do on a Saturday, I went over to Chet’s and was enjoying my breakfast. Well, the breakfast is always good at Chet’s, what I was really doing was contemplating how David Wong of Sapporo’s could get up so early to have breakfast at a nearby table.

With that, Jess came over and said, “Have you ever been to Yama’s?”  I said no. The expression on Jess’ face was a combination of amazement and incredulity. The truth is I worked for years in “the other direction”…be it Boston, Framingham, Milford…and lived in places like Natick, Milford, Blackstone, Boca Raton (ok, I made a wrong turn on I-95 and was there for a year) and now Westborough. My work takes me to places like Providence (great restaurants), Andover (yes, there’s a Chateau there), Lynn (Pho Lynn had great Vietnamese and have closed) and Boston again. So, I say without shame, “I have not been to Yama’s.”

Yama ZakuraAnd with that, we were scheduled for dinner at Yama Zakura. Researching Yama Zakura beforehand, the homepage of Yama Zakura boasts a large number of awards and recognition. “This looks interesting.”

I arrived just before the reservation time of six to an absolutely packed restaurant. Thankfully we had a reservation, otherwise the wait looked long.

The restaurant accommodated a seating request allowing new mom Jess the space to place baby David and all his accoutrements. In my mind that’s huge; the baby carrier and all that “stuff” takes up a lot of space, and it’s considerate of the restaurant to help for the party as well as other customers.

So here’s where my post falls off the tracks. Menu’s were placed, and were looked at for a half second. It seems this Yama Zakura novice was with a group of seasoned pros. Or was it the hot sake?

The pros went with “one of those lobster things,” “those ice cream cones,” and even some of those “lemon balls.”  I meekly suggested some spider crab or a caterpillar…and the spider made it to the order.  You’ll have to look at the pictures for what we had!

The restaurant website speaks to how “Owner Laddavanh “Anna” Bouphavichith matches traditional sushi ingredients with her customers´ unique tastes to create one-of-a-kind displays that delight the palette” with “an infusion of Thai and Japanese flavors.”

While I wasn’t always sure of what I was enjoying, everything was delicious. Personally, I don’t immerse my sushi in soy sauce (although am partial to a hint of wasabi). As a result, sometimes my sushi is rather dry.  Not at Yama Zakura. All our selections (except that Spider) were augmented with delicious sauces bringing out subtle flavors. This is Yama Zakura’s secret sauce (to turn a phrase.)

Leaving, I understood why Yama Zakura was so widely recognized. The food is unique and a special treat. It’s not your average sushi.

One more comment on reservations. The website states, “Reservations and call-ahead seating strongly suggested, especially on weekends.”  The place was packed when I got there, and even more packed when we left. Call ahead and get a reservation, you’ll be happy you did.

Hours

Monday Closed
Tuesday to Thursday Lunch: 11:30am to 2:30pm Dinner: 4:30pm to 9:30pm
Friday Lunch: 11:30am to 2:00pm Dinner: 4:30pm to 10:00pm
Saturday Dinner: 4:30pm to 10:00pm
Sunday: Dinner: 4:30pm to 8:30pm

Yama Zakura gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money