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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

With a side of sushi, please

Published: September 15, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

If you ever find yourself wandering around Eliot Street in Harvard Square, passing by Tanjore, the Smile Thai Caf, or a mysteriously deserted IHOP, take some time and follow the yellow brick road (well, more like the stacked cement cubes) down into a little hide-away chock full of Japanese cuisine goodies.

Tucked away in a little underground nook, Takemura isnt exactly what youd expect judging a restaurant by its entrance. Its almost cozy, with the displays of little geisha dolls and art scattered around the main dining area. Although technically underground, its a well-lit and inviting place so dont go conjuring any images of dark, dank basements filled with sushi.

But that brings me to my next and most important point: sushi!

For someone who just awakened a burning passion for sushi this summer, Ive managed to jump on fairly quickly to this fast-moving bandwagon. As all sushi connoisseurs (although I wouldnt venture to call myself an expert yet) know, when youve got the craving for it, nothing else will suffice especially bad sushi. Because the stuff can be amazing.

And while Takemura was not the most amazing sushi Ive ever had, it definitely hit the spot. They have an entire tri-fold, glossy color menu dedicated to everything they offer in the world of sushi. While it confused me a bit at first, I eventually figured out the method for ordering off of this menu, thanks to the help of some genius friends. It goes a little something like this: first you take the Sharpie, then you check the box next to whatever it is that you desire. The tough part is choosing just one. Or two. Or three you get the drift. (Also, make sure to remove any stray Sharpie marks that previous customers have left behind. Wouldnt want any surprises on the bill.)

In terms of variety, they have the standard fare, California and veggie rolls, tuna and salmon rolls, as well as some more exotic items, such as eel and calamari, which for the record are quite good. Every specialty sushi item has a picture of the food (just to tempt you and make your mouth water) along with a description of whats in it, which makes it easy for beginners like me to figure out whats what. Plus it helps with ordering indecision, which is usually the sign of a good restaurant it all looks so good! (compare to Usdan: I dont want any of this!)

And for those fine diners who like their food a little more heated, there is also a full menu of Japanese cuisine with soups, appetizers and entrees, including some delicious thick noodle dishes.

The price range isnt dirt cheap (think the $$ range), but its certainly manageable on a poor college students budget.

The service was decent (my water glass was never empty), but you may have to flag down or physically tackle your waiter whenever you decide to ask for the check. Apparently, they dont ever want you to leave. Although when you do head for the door, theres the surprise treat of a large apple-picking sized basket of candy and after-dinner mints for your to peruse, so grab a few and stuff em in your pocket on the way out.

For the truly shallow and aesthetically inclined, Takemura also has the bonus of classy dishes and prettily arranged platters to please the eye. So if you check it out and dont find it to be your cup of tea, at least youll get to look at some quality flatware.

Editor Says: Definitely give this one a try. However, if you find yourself lacking the motivation to get up and go, theres also Absolutely Asia on Main Street to get you your sushi fix. And if Main Street is just a BranVan ride too far away, remember, theres always the C-Store sushi.