A bento-style lunch at Sakana in Mid-Cambridge. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Enjoy a quick but elegant quality sushi lunch? Hard to say no, but there’s not a lot of options in Cambridge and Somerville, especially if you want to sit down. (Cafe Sushi and Wasabi at Porter have been only for takeout since Covid.) Currently there’s Ebi Sushi in Union Square and Love Sushi in the Lesley’s University Hall in Porter Square. There’s also Sakana Sushi in Mid-Cambridge, which opened just before pandemic in the old Simon’s Two coffee shop space at Dana Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It’s a cheery but small space; you definitely know what your neighbors are having for lunch.

The menu has generous and affordably priced offerings. You’ve got the bento box that comes with beef, salmon teriyaki or chicken teriyaki, or barbecue eel. All meals come with a fresh sesame-dressed salad and a hearty miso soup. In that bento you also get a mix of decent tempura (sweet potato, peppers and shrimp), a few slices of avocado maki and a fried gyoza, as well as rice. On the sushi side of things there’s your three modes: nigiri, sashimi and maki that comes in pescatarian and vegetarian versions with sweet potato, avocado and mango, and avocado. On my last two pop-ins I had the bento box and the nigiri offering. I went with the eel, because I’m a sucker for all things eel (mango and avocado too, so the veggie maki is on my-soon-to-have radar).

Sushi at Sakana. (Photo: Tom Meek)

It was good – but the nigiri lunch was the winning sushi lunch, an assortment of six to eight pieces of chef-chosen fish (tuna, shrimp, salmon, yellowtail and a mackerel seem to be on the usual rotation) and several generous slices of sashimi (the same usuals). It comes with rice as well, and the plating bears a nice aesthetic, but the real test is when you put it your mouth. The fish is silky and fresh and the serving temperature is spot on. It’s a thing with sushi that most people don’t think about, but too cold and you can’t taste; too warm and it’s fishy. The rice has the right degree of stickiness and a touch of healthy graininess.

The house sake is also smooth and unobtrusive, probably the best house sake I’ve had since a visit to WakuWaku. Sakana is a neat little spot to meet and nosh and get things done over lunch. It’s fine casual Japanese comfort. Sakana is also open for dinner. 

Sakana (983 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.