Cafe Sushi is not the place that my husband and I had our first date, nor did we get engaged there, or have our rehearsal dinner or wedding reception there (we eloped!). But it is the place that we both love the most, second to our own restaurant, our baby Myers + Chang. We view it as a close sibling and a part of our family.
My husband Christopher has been going to Cafe Sushi since it opened back in 1984 and I still remember the first time he brought me — everyone knew who he was, and it was like walking into Cheers. We sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the sushi bar and Seizi, the genial young sushi chef (and son of the chef, who Christopher used to sit in front of), plied us with gorgeous, buttery morsels of fish on barely warm rice as if he was handing us his first born with each plate. He described each piece of nigiri with such passion and precision that I held my breath with each presentation. I had never had such innovative takes on sushi — hickory-smoked salt, bourbon-soaked cherries, cured lemon peel, aged balsamic and tomato. The crazier it sounded, the better it tasted. I was hooked.
Over the years, it has become our Saturday night date night spot where we knew we’d get a warm greeting from Mindy with tastes of her favorite sakes (and pictures of their adorable kids Caden, Dean, and Iola). We celebrate birthdays and share our special spot with close friends and family. I sometimes play hooky from work and meet Christopher there for a late leisurely lunch. It is our special spot. It’s also many, many Bostonians’ and Cantabrigians’ special spot; the place is perpetually packed and wins Best Sushi in Boston year after year. Ask any chef in Boston where they go for sushi and they will all say Cafe Sushi — they consistently offer top-quality food in an unassuming environment with warm, welcoming service for a reasonable price.
Since COVID, they are currently operating takeout only and are hoping to expand to offer a Japanese market and grab-and-go sushi counter. Cafe Sushi is so beloved that even without dine-in seating, all of Boston and Cambridge are still clamoring for their incredible food.
I’m a sushi purist — no cream cheese or blueberries for me, please. What Seizi and his brother Kenshi and their incredible team prepare is the opposite of trendy; it is thoughtful and confident. The classics are perfectly done and the signature and chef’s specials are all creative and interesting. Our favorites are the umeshiso roll, salmon hand rolls, crunch roll, summer vegetable roll, yellowtail nigiri, chirashi, salmon sashimi donburi, signature sampler and chef sampler. I’m basically reading off the whole menu — we could close our eyes and point our fingers and land on our favorite dishes.
Joanne Chang is a chef, restaurateur, and the co-owner of Myers + Chang and Flour Bakery in Boston.