Well I finally got there on Friday night and was not at all disappointed. First my disclaimer: I would not consider myself a highly educated sushi afficionado, but I have eaten a fair amount of it in various locations in North America like San Fransisco and Vancouver, in places that seem pretty well regarded by folks on this board who know far more than I. I like to think I have a pretty adventurous palate and can definitely distinguish between high quality fish and not, well-cooked and seasoned rice and not and wierd western affectations that probably have no place in "authentic" sushi preparations. I say all that to implore the more sophisticated among you not to flame me when I expose my clearly less-than-expert views on this new restaurant.
OK, here goes:
Got here early, so the place was not very full and the sushi boat bar was mostly empty with most of the boats unoccupied and not much happening behind the counter. They have a liquor license and you are welcome to bring your own, but they do not serve alcohol, which I thought was strange until I was told "We are Christians." OK, that would explain the muzak hymns playing softly in the background!! While waiting for the rest of my party to arrive, I heard "Shall We Gather At The River", "Jesus Loves Me", "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" until they abruptly changed the CD to an Italian pop collection. Go figure.
So, once my seven other dining companions got there and we took over the better half of the sushi bar, the boats started flying -- literally. They cranked up the speed on the moat so high that I swear you could have waterskiied behind them!!
I had a few salmon nigiri, which were buttery and luscious -- a very generous fish to rice ratio, then tried a couple of simple avocado and cucumber maki to recover from the richness of the salmon. Moved on to a couple of "themed rolls" that came around, all of which were yummy, but not awe-inspiring, and then I saw what I thought was squid coming my way, but it turned out to be white tuna, which was the highlight of my evening -- juicy, delicately briny with a burst of pleasant oiliness that coated the mouth and lingered for a while...it was heaven...I ate a lot more of that....then along came the eel -- I love eel, but am often disappointed by the slopping on of that sweet sticky sauce that many places overdo, but this was different -- first, I think it was a good half of an eel draped over the rice, with a good three inches of prehensile-looking eel tail tapering off the edge of the little boat, almost charred looking, but perfectly tender in the mouth with a few scratchy little eel bones still left in for texture -- very savory and "dark" tasting, with the glaze well-integrated into the flesh of the eel. Other highlights included some very good toro, nicely tender octopus, and something I could not properly identify -- either halibut or red snapper. I found that the temperature the fish was served at greatly enhanced its flavor. Often I find sashimi is served too chilled to really apreciate the innate oiliness and delicacy of my favorites -- yellowtail, salmon and tuna. This was just right, not so warm as to have that tepid "off' feeling to it, but just chilly enough that it takes a few seconds in your mouth to soften and ripen into its full deliciousness.
Sadly we were in a bit of a hurry to get to a show across town, or I would have stayed longer and tried more things. I felt like the chef was just starting to warm up to us, and had we lingered longer we might have gotten some really spectacular surprises.
All in all, I would rate this as a hit, and I plan on going back a lot...soon. I didn't make note of prices and all that, so perhaps someone else can report back. I'm sincerely hoping that this place doesn't go the way of most Northampton sushi -- really promising for the first six months, then abruptly downhill.
Very interested to hear other thoughts!