I think there needs to be a celebration dance for those moments when we discover a fantastic restaurant in Metrowest. It isn't to say that great independently owned places don't exist out here, but they tend to be hidden, known to a few people who are lucky enough to know about them. Oishii Too in Sudbury is one of those places. Right off Route 20, near the borders of Framingham, Natick and Wayland is this absolute gem of a restaurant. The food is excellent and the owner and chef, Chef Kung, will warmly welcome you and immediately make you feel as though you stumbled into his home.
Oishii in Chestnut Hill has long been one of my favorite restaurants, as well as my favorite for sushi. But the wait could often be daunting. Oishii in Sudbury is a bit bigger (Oishii in Chestnut Hill consists of a sushi bar with only 2 small tables), but the food is just as good. And as my husband doesn't (gasp!) eat sushi, he was thrilled to discover that the cooked items are also stellar.
The food is Japanese, but Chef Kung has put his own twist on many of the dishes with unique elements, and special flavors. In fact, the titles never quite do justice to the dishes. My husband began with "grilled eggplant." What arrived was a salad of beautiful greens with perfectly grilled eggplant. On top was a light dressing. The eggplant was creamy with no hint of bitterness.
I enjoyed a squid salad. The squid was sliced thinly and served with a sweet ginger sauce. It was light and had a great balance between a bite without being too chewy. I don't normally order squid but I couldn't stop eating this version.
One of the highlights of the evening was the "Unagi Nuta." Broiled eel lay on top of finely sliced cucumber and was topped with sterling caviar. This dish is a perfect example of the food here. The eel was cooked perfectly-just a taste of sweetness, almost caramelized on the outside. The fish was so moist and the caviar provided both a contrast of texture (a pop) and taste (a subtle saltiness.) What was as impressive was the four types of seaweed that added to the flavor. Topping it all was a thin wasabi sauce that helped to clear my sinuses.
My husband doesn't typically use words like "divine" but it was the one he chose to describe his grilled Chilean Sea Bass. Again, it was more complex than the description hints at. The fish was tender and meaty without being too rich. But what made the dish special were the fried shallots and ginger that sat on top. Eaten in one bite, the shallots added a nutty, toasty taste to the white fish.
I tried an assortment of sushi. First, I had Oishii Too's version of my favorite: chopped toro (fatty tuna) with caviar(pictured at the top of the post.) The colors were dramatic as the ruby red toro was set off by the golden caviar and the microgreens. The fish couldn't have been more fresh. This was the spicy version and although at times tears came to my eyes, the sweet sauce tamed it slightly. Next time I will go for the mild version to better appreciate the meatiness of the tuna.
Next, Chef Kung highlighted two of his special sushi rolls. The first was titled "Crispy Saki Maki." This consisted of delicious slices of tender salmon draped over tobiko, cucumber and tempura flakes. The roll was coated with, of all things, a passion fruit-mango sauce! The tempura added crunch and texture, with the sauce adding sweetness.Finally, the other unique roll of the night was Koori Ookawa Maki. This roll had tobiko, cucumber and hokigai (red clam) and was topped with blue fin tuna. The hokigai was just chewy enough and the wasabi sauce was sharp.
I loved the creativity and presentation of these rolls, but I look forward to enjoying more of the simple sushi next time. The fish was so good and at times the sauces masked the flavor.
Saving one of our favorites for the end was black sesame ice cream flown in from Japan. It had the nuttiness of peanut butter without the richness (or, if our peanut-allergic son had been there, fear of an allergy attack!)
I am suspicious of "bargain" sushi. To get top quality fish is almost impossible without paying. And, no, Oishii Too isn't cheap. However, the prices are comparable to any decent sushi restaurant: sushi rolls range from $5.00 to $13.00, about $8.00 to $13.00 for appetizers, and $15.00 (noodle dishes) to $30.00 (the Chilean Sea Bass). However, they also offer lunch box specials for around $14.00. What struck me as we dined at Oishii Too, is that clearly many people return over and over. I heard Chef Kung, more than once, personally greeting each of his customers-both by name and by memory of their favorite dishes.
This time,Chef Kung treated us to a wonderful meal. But, in the future, when I do want sushi, along with thoughtful attention to detail as well as the kindness of Chef Kung, this is where we will head.