Sure, the restaurant promises good sushi, but can it deliver? Literally, that is? After all, if it isnít fresh, it isnít legal ó itís lethal. Sushiís little boots werenít made for walking. So the more circuitous the route from the chefís hands to your mouth ó proportional, of course, to the cruising aptitude of the average delivery boy ó the fresher the fish had better be. If your order still sparkles on arrival, then you know that the establishment can, in fact, deliver. Minato Sushi passes that test ó and a good thing, too, since the tiny Brookline storefront isnít equipped for heavy on-site traffic. So delivery service is undoubtedly owner Young Paeís bread and butter (or rather, rice and soy sauce).
Next on the checklist, then, is flavor. Itís funny how sushi bears its own imprint: all things being equal, one barís unagi maki will taste completely different from anotherís. At Minato, the fish is especially mild and supple ó qualities that enhance larger, more robust cuts like mackerel and salmon nigiri. Subtler or smaller cuts of fish, on the other hand, can be a trifle bland (so order maki at your own discretion). Another advantage to the nigiri is that you get three pieces per order instead of the usual duo for a comparable price (mostly in the $3-to-$4 range). But the biggest surprise at Minato is the selection from the kitchen. It doesnít taste like the afterthought it seems to be at so many sushi bars; the shumai ($4.95), for instance, are crammed with awfully big flavor, while rich ton katsu ($6.95), thoughtfully served as an appetizer, seems almost judicious for once.
Minato Sushi, located at 696 Washington Street, in Brookline, is open daily, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Call (617) 731-5200/6700.