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Lunch, Anyone? Basho Japanese Brasserie

A sushi restaurant that’s big on new flavors

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Basho bills itself as “the first modern Japanese brasserie to hit Boston.” Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

Wander just a block past the arresting aroma of ballpark burgers and Italian sausages stewing in onions and peppers wafting from Fenway Park and you’ll find a completely different dining experience, one that’s equal parts art exhibition and culinary adventure.

Basho, which bills itself as “the first modern Japanese brasserie to hit Boston,” is big on presentation. That includes the trendy décor, the zen-inducing music, and most notably, the delicate and skillful presentation. The sushi is plated carefully to woo the eye as well as the tastebuds: the colors of the raw fish and fruit and vegetable garnishes pop out against the stark white table settings and dark finish of the wooden tables.

The menu’s flavor combinations may seem incongruous at first glance, like the Scallop Kiwi Roll ($13.95) or the Boston Roll ($10.95), lobster, lettuce, tomato, asparagus, tobiko, and spicy mayo. But the combination of ingredients works. Basho has succeeded at something many sushi places try but fail to accomplish: producing sushi that delivers something new with every bite.

We arrived at Basho midafternoon to discover that it had just stopped serving lunch, which features specials that are not only less expensive than dinner, but also come with free miso soup and salad (lunch specials run between $8.75 and $16.25).

We started off with one of Basho’s signature rolls, the Volcano Roll ($8), with crab, avocado, and cucumber topped with spicy mayo, unagi sauce, and fish roe. The avocado and cucumber complemented the heavier sauces, and the freshness and crunch of the cucumber balanced the creamier texture of the crab and fish roe.

Boston University BU, places to ear near BU campus, sushi Basho Japanese Brasserie, Japanese asian cuisine in Boston

Basho's signature Volcano Rolls (left) and Crunchy Rolls are as colorful as they are tasty.

At our server’s suggestion, we also ordered the Crunchy Roll ($12.95): fried onion, cucumber, tuna, salmon, and two types of fish roe served with a touch of mango sauce. The roll was finished with a spicy crumb mixture that gave it an interesting crunch. The cucumber and mango brightened up this classic dish, which we’ve frequently found a little heavy when ordered at other sushi places.

We wanted to try something different, so we ordered the Basho Roll ($13.95), an inventive mix of fried snow crab, lettuce, shitake mushrooms, asparagus, and pickles, topped with jalapeño aioli, wrapped in a thin film of cucumber and finished with a garnish of soy paper. It is a mouthful, almost too much for one bite. The cucumber wrap was refreshing, and mixed with the lettuce and asparagus, made us feel almost like we were eating a salad, not sushi.

We finished our meal with the vegetable and chicken yaki ($14.25)—stir-fried noodles drenched in a spicy, teriyaki-like sauce, served with grilled chicken. It was the cooked-to-perfection chicken that made the dish a standout.

Boston University BU, places to ear near BU campus, sushi Basho Japanese Brasserie, Japanese asian cuisine in Boston

Basho's vegetable and chicken yaki consists of spicy teriyaki stir-fried noodles served with grilled chicken.

While Basho doesn’t look like much from the street, the interior steals the show. From the furniture and woodwork to the art on the walls, Basho is modern and cool. Even the light fixtures—plain bulbs encased in a shell of bent twigs—are simple yet fascinating.

It’s a world away from Fenway Park.

Basho, 1338 Boylston St., Boston, is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 11:30 p.m. The restaurant accepts all major credit cards. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Kenmore Square and walk to Boylston.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.


One Comment on Lunch, Anyone? Basho Japanese Brasserie

  • Mathilde on 09.11.2013 at 4:55 pm

    Loud music and too much air conditioning, at first Basho didn’t make a good impression on me. But the menu is GREAT and the staff really nice. The Pork Toro is a must-try!

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