>> Wednesday, June 16, 2010
"To everything - turn, turn, turn, There is a season - turn, turn, turn, And a time for every purpose under heaven."
For some odd reason, the lyrics to this song started running through my head as I thought about our recent experience. There was a time when this was one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Boston. The place was so authentic, it had great sushi, and the prices could not be beat.
Situated in Porter Exchange, basically Boston's version of Japantown, you could eat lunch here (paying only $1/piece for sushi), go shopping at the Japanese market, and then pick up some boba tea or Japanese baked good on your way out. I always loved getting some mochi ice cream treats from the ice cream shop.
Unfortunately, many things have changed since those glory days a few years ago.
Admittedly, some of the things are outside of Blue Fin's control. First, Porter Exchange started charging for parking, something they had never done in the past. True, it's only $1, but it's still a deterrent, especially when coupled with a bunch of other reasons, such as . . . .
Lesley College, the university that owns Porter Exchange, decided to kick out the Japanese grocery store Kotobukiya in order to make room for a college bookstore. All of a sudden, one of the best reasons to visit Porter Exchange vanished in thin air overnight.
Furthermore, Blue Fin remodeled, expanded, became fancier, and raised their prices a lot. Our beloved sushi sets that averaged $1/piece were now closer to $1.50/piece. Bryan ordered the salmon ikura don (pictured above) off of the dinner menu. For $17 he got 4 slices of salmon and about a tablespoon or two of roe. It really didn't feel like it was worth the money. My salmon lunch set (lower left corner) was reasonably priced at $9.95, but the quality of the fish suffered.
The best deal seemed to be the Sashimi Lunch Set (pictured above) which was only $15. Compared to Bryan's $17 salmon ikura don, this really looks like a steal. Not only do you get 10 thick slices of quality fish (as opposed to Bryan's four paltry slices), you also get a few nice sides, such as chilled tofu, salad, and shumai. I jealously eyed the thick tuna slices in this set while peering forlornly down at my own limp, artificially bright red tuna nigiri. Why the disparity?
Even though there was a time when we came here almost once a month, I'm sad to say that we hardly ever come here anymore. The higher prices, loss of the Japanese market, and having to pay for parking together are enough to drive us somewhere else for sushi. Our new favorite place to get $1/piece sushi is at Cafe Sushi in Harvard Square, which has this special pricing on Sunday evenings. For lunch, I would pick Fugakyu (which has excellent lunch specials!) any day over Blue Fin. I've also heard amazing things about Toraya in Arlington, which I am dying to try.
I still feel like I'm in mourning, though. Blue Fin is right in Porter, and I still do love how it has so many other tasty dishes such as the beef potato set (yum), the mini house salad, and other authentic dishes. The prices for most of their menu is really quite reasonable. Perhaps I just had a particularly bad experience for one reason or another.
What's your favorite for reasonably priced sushi in Boston?
1815 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140