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Toraya -- great sushi in Arlington

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Toraya -- great sushi in Arlington

GretchenS | Apr 20, 2004 03:49 PM

Toraya is a small restaurant at 890 Mass Ave in Arlington, on the same side as Blue Ribbon BBQ and a block closer to Arlington Center. There is parking behind it. Beer and sake are available.

The décor is no-frills but clean and pleasant. The owner is also the sushi chef and he has a small staff of pleasant and very competent servers. Sit at the sushi bar as we do and let the chef-owner choose for you – the fish is fresh and delicious and there’s nearly always a surprise of some sort during the meal. On a recent night it was beautiful slices of king mackerel with a slight glaze, briefly heated under the broiler and presented on banana leaf with finely chopped garnishes. We also had a starter of monkfish liver, called “monkfish paté” on the whiteboard (the chef tells us people don’t like the idea of liver). If you have never had this, it’s heaven – silky smooth, richly flavored, and served with ponzu and seaweed. Then we had gorgeous sashimi of many sorts (me) and beautifully crafted nigiri and maki sushi (my friends), all chosen by the chef, who at this point knows our particular likes and dislikes (eg, no shellfish for me, my friend GretchenM likes extra ginger, we all particularly love chutoro and king mackerel) and so on. Dinner finished with a beautiful ikura and quail egg yolk nigiri for each after he saw us admiring them as he made them for another table.

We always leave Toraya happy – the fish is delicious, the chef and staff welcoming and friendly, and the price reasonable (for sushi). It may not be Oishii but it’s very very good, very reliable, and it’s nearby. If you are in Arlington, Lexington, Belmont or Cambridge you should definitely try it – you won’t find better sushi in those areas. The sushi bar is very small, so your best bet is during the week, rather than Friday or Saturday nights, when it tends to be extremely busy.

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