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Surprise!! Excellent sushi (and more) in Wellesley

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Restaurants & Bars

Surprise!! Excellent sushi (and more) in Wellesley

DodinBouffant | Dec 31, 2003 06:18 PM

Herbs & Spices is not what one would normally think of as a name for a Japanese-Sushi/South East Asian /Chinese Restaurant, but after seeing a menu that someone had definitely intrigued me enough to try it, I am really glad I did.

This place is located at 15 Washington Street in Wellesley(basically across the street from papa-razzi less than 1/2 mile from 128 heading toward Wellesley center. The room is spare yet comfortable and there are about 8 seats at the sushi bar, where I opted to sit.

The greeting was very pleasant and service throughout was prompt, efficient and very polite. The gentleman behind the sushi counter was very nice to talk to and was extremely excited that I was not looking for California Rolls. I did however want some Ankimo but they didn't have it, the gentleman said sometime he gets it(but he just ends up eating it himself because none of the customers order it), but he noted the next best thing to look forward to would be fresh maine baby shrimp...I nodded and smiled very much in agreement. A quick perusal of the sushi refrigerator revealed shrimp,tuna,fluke, squid,salmon,hamachi,unagi,tako,bass, crab stick,egg,tobiko and mackerel. The case was immaculately clean, the fish was pristine, all loosely covered so as not to be dried by the circulating air in the cooler. the hamachi was so fresh that the bloodline was just a shade over pink, with nice little streaks of fat in it.
Two of us dined at the sushi counter and this is what we had. Chawan-Mushi is listed on the menu and was the first thing that I ordered...I was informed in about a minute that the kitchen could not do that today...that's okay I'm going back and they promised the next time that I come in they will make it...I might even call ahead to give them fair warning.

Tako Yaki...these are deep fried octopus balls that are served with a nice sweet salty plum sauce(I'll admit these weren't as good as the ones at Shabu Shabu, entirely different in texture actually). They were balls of octopus and fish mousse with a very pronounced octopus flavor 8 balls total(for $5.25). The texture was slightly resilient to the bite and was definitely better earlier than a bit later after cooling a bit.

Unagi Yamakake...this was broiled eel(you could also have it with raw tuna)that is coverd by grated japanese yam, served with radish sprouts, a shiso leaf and some of the typical radish strings that you see. Flavorful and texturally magnificent. The broiled eel only lightly coated with kabayaki glaze was a perfect accompaniement to the grated yam(the yam takes on somewhat of a ummmm errr what I guess we could call a mucousy texture), the eel was so tender it melted when you pushed it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue, the quail egg was enough to add a bit more richness and flavor to the yam...I think there were 4 pieces of unagi in the bowl and when those were gone I dribbled a little soy sauce on the yam to finish it off. This dish was awesome $7.95

Nigiri Appetizer Plate...is a chef's choice of nigiri sushi..we received tuna,hamachi,hokkigai(surf clam) and salmon. I cannot say anymore than the fish was absolutely beautiful, just barely chilled enough, but not so cold that you could not taste the flavors, the portions were quite large at least 3 inches in length and about 1/4 inch thick. The rice was a perfect temperature, and just enough wasabi to feel it. The hamachi was superior to the other three...striations of fat through out, sweet, delicious...$7.95 I also ordered another round of hamachi two pieces for $4.75...absolutely amazing.

Hamachi Kama...salted and broiled hamachi collar...how many of these can they possibly have??? So naturally it was an inquisitive type of order when I looked to the waiter and asked if that was available he just looked up to the sushi chef who nodded yes...I don't know how many people have enjoyed a broiled hamachi collar before(I'm quite a fan of them)but if you haven't tried one...then maybe it's time...lightly broiled and fully cooked it was served with ponzu, grated spicy daikon and scallions. Little pockets and streaks of fat throughout, delicate white flesh, sucking the flavor from the little bones and the major bone, removing all the flesh so as to reveal a thin layer of fat on the skin and then sucking the fat off the skin and then eating the skin was absolutely terrific for lack of a better word. An absolutely delicious collar, simplicity in preparation, unbelievably fresh, truly sublime all for the whopping price of........$8.95 I just couldn't believe it.

Had a spicy tuna maki which was completely overshadowed by almost everything else but nonetheless was still very good...reverse maki $5.50

Ordered two more pieces of the sublime unagi for dessert...like i said pressed to the roof of your mouth it just melted...with just the right amount of kabayaki glaze and a little dusting of sesame seeds...$4.75

The help is very cheerful...the place was nearly empty today for lunch(could be a pre-holiday thing)the sushi chef is just dying for people to come in and order something besides a california roll, he is a very sweet, genial man and was relating an experience he had in Japan and he's looking forward to those beautiful ama ebi which will be here soon, although he did say he preferred them cooked...mine I'll take raw.

I did not order anything off the rest of the menu which is fairly well thought out IMO, there are a number of Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and a couple of Malaysian dishes, Lots of soups, some stir fries and a number of Chef Signature dishes including, Whole Crispy Fish, Fresh Cod in Hot Pot, Bo Loc Lac, Chicken Pik Pow and others.

We also had a 300ml bottle of chilled Sake $13.50
Total bill before tip was $61.

I look forward to trying a bunch of the other specialties and am pleased I'll be able to also have some sushi too.

They have been open three months and with a name like Herbs & Spices not sure anyone would really know what it was, I'm glad I found out. I hope a place like this can last...I'm sure in that area it will end up relying on a lot of chinese take out...I hope I'm wrong.

Herbs & Spices
15 Washington Street
781.237.7500

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