Friday, June 21, 2024

A weekly notebook about dining options during the Covid-19 shutdown, with a focus on quality and ease of pickup and delivery. Remember, the people serving up the food are part of the front line; keep it in mind when tipping.

A nigiri sampler lunch at Cafe Sushi. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Hard to believe Cafe Sushi has been sitting quietly at the Central Square end of Harvard Square for more than 35 years serving top-flight gourmet sushi and Japanese cuisine at bargain-basement prices (compare quality and cost with the nationally renowned O Ya and the big difference will be in the wallet). Before the pandemic, chef and owner Seizi Imura (son of the owners who opened the cafe in 1984) was nominated again for the James Beard Award for Cafe Sushi’s cash-friendly bento boxes and various other sushi lunch packagings. The Japanese eatery continues serving lunch. Though the menu of basic maki rolls, miso soup, seaweed salad and other traditional appetizers is not as broad as in those maskless days, it does feature a lunch nigiri sampler and sashimi donburi bowl. The sampler of five large, succulent pieces of criminally fresh fish – almost all of Imura’s comes from Japan – includes two tuna (maguro), two salmon nigiri (sake) and one piece of yellowtail kingfish nigiri (hiramasa, a higher-end piece of hamachi) with aesthetically adorned toppings and house-aged soy dipping sauce. Food pickup, ordered via Toast, is super pandemic friendly; orders are passed through a takeout window. Can’t wait for the full lunch menu and the inviting sushi bar to come back.

Cafe Sushi (1105 Massachusetts Ave., Mid-Cambridge)

Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.