Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Restaurant Reviews: Ponzu

There's really only one thing I miss about living in Waltham, and that's Moody Street. This one stretch is the center of good restaurants in the western Boston suburbs -- indeed, perhaps the best place to eat in the entire region. And new places are always opening. Tonight, on a whim, we decided to try one of those: Ponzu, which opened up in the corpse of the dessert shop. (You know -- the one that used to sell really fabulous cannoli until they lost their minds and turned into a low-grade coffee shop.)

Anyway, Ponzu turns out to be fabulous. They're best described as "eclectic Asian", with a mix of conventional and invented dishes from Japan and China. They run tapas-style, with your choice of "big dishes" and "small dishes" (which they explicitly describe as Tapas). We went for a mix of sushi plates and tapas -- we ordered seven plates, which was probably one more than we should have, but we find it hard to regret.

Getting the weaker part out of the way first: the ordinary sushi (from the main Maki menu) is merely good. We had an order of spicy salmon maki, and a caterpillar roll -- both were perfectly fine, but undistinguished. msmemory tried the White Tiger Maki, which was truly beautiful (they wrap it in an exotic white nori, producing the striped white effect of the name) but not remarkable in terms of flavor. None of it was *bad*, mind you, but it was no better than what we normally get over at Sato.

OTOH, the tapas plates were magnificent. The Ponzu Hot Ribs were little pork ribs in a sweet spicy glaze, perfectly balanced and ideal for an opener. (They served all of the food gradually, giving each of us a new plate as we finished the last.) The Stuffed Fried Tofu Skin wrapped around a maki-sized roll of spicy crabmeat and rice, with a drizzle of spicy mayo to offset the flavors. The Sashimi Roses were rosettes, one each of tuna, salmon and yellowtail, each marinated differently so they each had a distinctive undertone. And the winner of the bunch was the "Ponzu marinated tuna with edamame puree on wonton crisp" -- exactly what it sounds like, four little wonton platters worthy of serving as hors d'ouvres at the best reception.

Service was perfect: crisply efficient without ever being pushy, but constantly around to make sure everything was going smoothly. (One got the impression that the 50-year-old maitre d' owns the place, and demands perfection of her staff.) Prices were a tad higher than average, but quite reasonable given the quality of the meal: we paid about $95 before tax and tip, including a really lovely little $25 bottle of sake. (It says something about the place that they serve a dozen different cool sakes, with the only heated sake relegated to its own dog pen further down on the menu.)

Excellent meal -- when the worst I can say about it is that some of the dishes were *only* quite good, it speaks well to the quality. I'll pay it the highest compliment I have in my arsenal: I have to take my Dad here, the next time he's in town...
Tags: reviews

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