However, after trying about a half dozen places in my area, I thought I would share, compare, and rank them in order of least favorite to favorite.
#5 The Ginger Pad in Burlington
The Experience: The first time I went here was probably not the best experience at a restaurant. This used to be a bistro where you purchase your food at the counter, and then go find a place to sit (like Panera). Since they changed it to a restaurant with a full service bar, I think they went down a bit in ratings. Worst. Service. Ever. I went with a few of my friends on a Tuesday night and it was surprisingly busy. Surprising for the staff, that is. It took about 10 minutes for our waitress to even greet us, then another 10-15 to bring over drinks. Add another 10 after our drinks came to even order our meals. We we hungry to say the least.
The Food: I ordered Wonton soup to start and shared two sushi rolls with my friend. The soup was fine, nothing special, seeing as how it is hard to mess up Wonton soup I had no complaints. I also inhaled it since we had been waiting for so long. We had the Hoppin' Jalapeno roll and the Phoenix roll next, neither of which we were overly impressed with. I'd give them 2 1/2 stars on those. However, one day when I was craving sushi, I was right next door at Nails and Co. I called and ordered for pick up and decided to just play it safe. I ordered the Unagi Avocado maki (eel and avocado) and asked them to add spicy mayo. Seriously, one of the best sushi rolls I've ever had. SHOCKED. It melted in my mouth and I never wanted it to end. My suggestion for Ginger Pad? Get take out and make it simple.
#4 Bamboo in Bedford
The Experience: The atmosphere at Bamboo is one of my favorites of any restaurant. The staff is always friendly and on point, and the decor is very calming. They have multiple rooms, all themed differently, and all so interesting. I've been here a bunch of times since it was the only sushi place close to my house for a while, and back when I ate Chinese food it was my go to. Service is good, and the little mints you grab on the way out are awesome!
The Food: While they have amazing non-sushi dishes, I'm here to talk about the good stuff. Bamboo was the first place I tried eel at, and I have never loved a fish so much in my life. I got a caterpillar roll and it was delicious (and adorable)! I went back for sushi a few months ago and we got quite the assortment. I definitely had a better eating experience with more options. Compared to other sushi restaurants, Bamboo is a bit expensive for what you get. I've had better tasting sushi for lower prices, which is why it is number four on my list. While the fish is fresh, the options are lacking and the rolls really don't come together as much as I would like. One thing that sets Bamboo apart though is the fact that they give you chocolate fortune cookies!
#3 Tulip in Stoneham
The Experience: Tulip is brand new and I've only been twice. It offers hibachi as well as a full menu, and it has been doing very well since it opened. The hosts are very friendly, but the staff has a little trouble in the English department. The first time I went the waitress really had no idea what I was saying to her so I had to point to everything on the menu. Their drinks are surprisingly cheap and EXTREMELY strong. It took me an hour to finish a Mai Tai. The other weird thing about Tulip? I've only been twice, as I mentioned, and both times I got the same fortune! "Now is a good time to make new friends."
The Food: We were quite pleased with the food. The Peking ravioli were scrumptious, as was the dipping sauce they came with. I tried my first scallion pancake but I really don't think they are for me. I know we ordered the Red Sox maki, but I honestly have no idea what the second roll was. I didn't dislike their sushi, but there was some strange substance on top of it that we just could not figure out. The second time I went I tried their Wonton soup which had a strange flavor to it. I also got a simple spicy yellow tail roll which was very very good! I'm starting to learn that the more simple the roll, the higher the chance is that I will like it. I'll definitely go again and try more rolls here since I haven't been enough!
#2 3 Country Bistro in Woburn
Photo Credit= me!
The Experience: This place is itty bitty. It's a complete hole in the wall in a giant rotary, but it's seriously worth it. I was referred by a friend and went last night with two of my go-to sushi girls and we were seriously impressed. They were busy, which is easy since they only have seven tables and four seats at the sushi bar. We saw a lot of people coming in for take-out, which I'm guessing is the preferred method of dining. Although they do not serve alcohol here, anyone is welcome to bring their own! We were confused at first since the table behind us had beer and there was none listed, but eventually we put two and two together.
The Food: Since I only went last night, I'm still in a bit of a food coma from 3 Country Bistro. The best thing about this place is the menu. They have SO many delicious options. Usually when it comes to eel you can only get one or two specialty roles. These people know what's up considering the fact that they had eight specialty roles with eel in them (I counted)! We shared Crab Rangoon, which were fine, and then dove into the sushi. We split the Hawaii Spicy Maki, Rattle Snake Maki, and the Main Street Maki (rattle snake pictured on the left and main street on the right). I could have licked the plates clean. Every thing came together so wonderfully and even though we were full early on, we powered through because I never wanted the flavors to end. The sushi chef is absolutely amazing and not only does he make delicious foo, but he makes cute little dragons out of sauce on the plates! Can I go back now?
#1 Oye's in Reading
The Experience: I love going to Oye's. Clearly, seeing as how it is my number one. My friends and I pronounce it like "Oi-yay's," but I learned that it's really "oo-ee's." Back on track though, I love everything about this place from the decor to the service to the drinks. If you go, you HAVE to get the Passion fruit Bellini. My favorite ever. If you don't like pulp, get a Zombie, but otherwise order like four of these. You never have to wait too long for a table here since they have many, and the service is prompt and attentive. It also has more of a fine dining feel since they have table cloths and candles at every table! My only suggestion is to try not to sit near the fire place since it can get a bit hot.
The Food: Clearly the food has to be amazing for it to be my number one. Well it absolutely is. They haven't updated their online menu in a while, but if you go you need to order the Bruins maki. It has eel and two types of tuna and who knows what else, but I live for this roll. I seriously stopped ordering other sushi rolls to try here because it is absolutely phenomenal. Before I discovered this, I tried the Kiss the Fire roll, as well as the Sushi Pizza (also not on the old menu). Both we delicious and unique. The sushi pizza was probably the most interesting thing I've had. It wasn't a roll but on a crispy bed of deliciousness and even had onions and tomatoes on top! Don't knock it til you try it. A great thing about Oye's is that they also have amazing Chinese cuisine as well. Best Peking Ravioli I've ever had! I'm starting to crave it right now. Oye's makes everything with love and really wants their customers to have a wonderful dining experience every time. They do take out as well and it isn't disappointing!