Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fresh Fish

Maki Sushi Bar- 43 Main Street Peabody, MA

My husband and I have been at a loss to find good sushi after the permanent closing of our favorite Japanese restaurant, Asahi, in Salem last year. After a few hit and misses at Salem’s other prominent sushi choices, Okea Grill & Sushi, and Bangkok Paradise, we found that at those two places, the food quality and service didn’t come close to what Asahi offered. We were on the verge of giving up the search, all most ready to embrace the mediocre when we decided to cast our net a little wider and by doing so, we found a hidden jewel.

Maki Sushi Bar in Peabody is a revelation. Being used to the quirky sushi specials that Asahi had, including their much beloved and much missed buffalo chicken maki, we were delighted to find such a creative range of maki rolls, many of which are presented on a platter arranged as little works of yummy art. The Lava roll, salmon, cream cheese, avocado topped with white tuna, scallion and spicy mayo, looked just like a miniature volcano, ready to blow our little corner table, not to mention our taste buds, to smithereens.

Several other maki rolls also had us drooling and bickering after who got the last piece. The Crab Rangoon roll, with cream cheese, masago, and cucumber topped with spicy mayo, only lacked the fried wonton wrapper to make it authentic Chinese takeout appetizer fare. The Mexican roll, with tempura shrimp, jalapenos, and shichimi pepper had our mouths watering as much from the heat of the peppers than from scrumptiousness. The Hawaiian roll, consisting of fried spam, tamago, and cucucumber had us deliciously scratching our heads. Our favorite was the Dragon roll, both in taste and presentation. Kanikama (sustainable crab), avocado, topped with broiled eel, tempura crunch and a kabayaki glaze, looked like a Chinese New Year dragon as it serpentine body lied upon a platter. The effect was so stunning that we were very hesitant to disturb the slumbering beast with our chopsticks.

Maki’s other offerings were almost as tasty as the sushi. The house salad with ginger dressing was perfectly fine, if a little salty, and would be better if served in a larger bowl. Their gyoza, pan fried pork dumplings, were well presented but slightly undercooked. They also have a vast variety of Bento boxes that we are eager to try the next time we go. Deserts were tasty, such as the chocolate lava cake, fried cheesecake with vanilla ice cream, and banana spring rolls, the latter which was absolutely delicious but the minuscule serving size was rather disappointing.

Maki Sushi Bar, with its new full bar, its signature drinks being a wicked good Singapore Sling and vast assortments of martinis and sakes, is quickly becoming a local legend. When first opened in October 2011, the clientele was small yet dedicated but word of mouth has made this one of the hottest tickets Friday through Sunday nights. Though service can be a little slow, it is well worth the wait for the table.

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