Are we snow fatigued yet? I still can't believe that just a little over two weeks ago, when I was in Los Angeles during the first big snowstorm, I was actually feeling a bit sad that I was missing the storm. After all, we hadn't really had any snow the entire winter, and I still had these fond memories of watching the peaceful snow come down in past snowstorms. My flight ended up being canceled. I was stuck in LA for an extra day (not such a bad thing!) and came back to several more opportunities for snowstorms.
We're literally running out of space for places to put our snow. I'm a little overwhelmed at the idea of a few more snowstorms on the way. Where are we going to put the snow? Heh, city living at its finest.
It's at times like these that I'm grateful for the neighborhood restaurants around me: places that I can reach in 5-10 minutes by foot; places that I can visit even if my car is snowed in, my street is not plowed, and the MBTA (public transportation) is down.
Several weeks ago (before this whole snow fiasco began), Bryan and I went to check out a new Asian fusion place that opened up around the corner from us. Right in the same neighborhood as Giulia, Temple Bar, and West Side Lounge, it's a place that's conveniently close to me and easily accessible by foot. Called Mix-It Sushi Noodle Grill, this new restaurant on Mass Ave offers an unusually wide and eclectic mix of dishes.
There's a dedicated sushi bar and a sizable sushi menu. At the same time, there's a crazy collection of Asian dishes - almost like a "Greatest Hits" for Asian dishes popular with Americans. You've got Thai curries and khao soi, Korean kimchi noodle soup, Indonesian fried rice, Japanese udon and teriyaki everything. Of course there are the Chinese favorites like General Gao's chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, and Mongolian Beef. They even offer Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
The menu is dizzying with food from all different Asian cultures. We decided to go mostly Japanese plus the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (mostly since I'm Taiwanese and just really curious about it).
For appetizer, we started with the Agedashi Tofu. I was actually really impressed with this dish! The coating was delicate and it was fried perfectly. The dashi broth was pleasant, and overall I really enjoyed this starter. It also came out quickly, which was great since we were starving!
We decided to try several of their more creative rolls as well as some nigiri sushi. Nigiri comes in orders of two, priced at around $4-$6 per order depending on the item. Of course, specialty items like fatty tuna (e.g., chutoro or otoro) will cost much more. Bryan thought the Uni + Quail Egg ($7.95) was fine. We both really enjoyed the Scallop/Hotate Nigiri ($5.95), which was very fresh and had a nice, sweet flavor. The Yellowtail/Hamachi ($5.75)was average, and the Fatty Tuna/Chutoro was OK, but probably not worth the expensive cost.
The Mix-It Roll ($14.95), their namesake roll, is a pretty complicated roll. It has white tuna, jalapeno, and spicy mayo crunch on the inside. On the outside, there are layers of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail topped with a tiny slice of lemon, cilantro, and tobiko.
It's a beautiful roll and clearly takes a lot of manual labor to make. It was reasonably enjoyable, although I thought that the lemon was too overpowering. I would enjoy the roll more without the slice of lemon on top. Furthermore, the sushi plate took a LONG time to come out. I'm guessing it's because the restaurant is pretty new and they're still figuring out all this timing stuff. I do understand that these rolls are labor intensive to make. However, if that means guests should expect to wait 20-30 minutes between their appetizer and their sushi, then I think they need to be warned. Soup dumplings places do that all the time.
We also tried their Kiss of Fire Roll ($14.95). This one has spicy crunchy tuna and cucumber on the inside and layers of salmon and white tuna on the outside with fresh jalapeno, sriracha sauce, and tobiko on top. This was a SPICY roll! Heat in most Japanese fusion cuisine (e.g., Nobu's signature yellowtail and jalapeno combination or O Ya's hamachi with spicy banana pepper mousse) is subtle and definitely not hot enough to make me sweat or cry. This was different. The jalapeno on top was big, and the whole roll was very boldly flavored. All in all it was still pretty enjoyable - just a bit spicier than what I was expecting.
Next time maybe I won't order two spicy rolls!
The Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup was reasonably authentic, though the broth was sweeter and had less beefy umami than other versions I've had. They also don't use beef shank, which typically is richly full of tendon (my favorite!). Instead, the meat is leaner and mostly protein, maybe brisket? (I'm really not sure). All in all, it's serviceable if you're having a craving, but there are many better versions in Boston.
It's hard to write a comprehensive review when the restaurant has such a diverse collection of dishes and I have only tried a handful. This is really just a first look, since we've only visited once.
My initial impression is that the overall quality of the food is fine, with some standouts (namely the agedashi tofu in my meal). With respect to sushi, the fish is fresh and the creative rolls are fun. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the scallop nigiri. In general, the rolls are creative and not at all authentic Japanese. It's not refined sushi, but it's still fun and perfectly fine for take-out or a casual meal. I can see this place being really great for larger group outings where different people have different preferences on cuisine. Here, as long as you like Asian food, you can really choose between many different cuisines.