Written by guest Nibble scribe, Elysian McNiff; the first in a series of posts about Union Square eateries
Welcome to Nibble’s first installment of the Union Square Restaurant Roundup! My name is Elysian McNiff, a graduate intern with the Somerville Arts Council, and I am completing my masters in Public Humanities at Brown University. As someone with a passion for all things tasty, I am sharing stories about the diverse ethnic restaurants in Union Square. This summer I will venture through the streets of this unique Somerville neighborhood to track down restaurant owners, and find out more about their establishments.
So, where to start? How about the new kid on the block? Ebi Sushi, which opened its doors on May 26th of this year. The Japanese restaurant is located at 290 Somerville Avenue, next to the Dunkin Donuts.
When I walked into Ebi Sushi a smiling face met me from behind the sushi bar. The man delicately and swiftly preparing a Dragon roll was the owner, Jose Garcia.
Jose moved to the United States in 2000 from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. My first question, of course, was how he came into the sushi business. Jose responded, “I have been in sushi for ten years – since the beginning of my restaurant career. The first time I saw it, I knew it was what I wanted to do.” Before opening in Union Square, Jose worked as a chef at the Blue Fin in Porter Square for eight years. His brother also owns a Japanese restaurant in Porter Square, Café Mami.
I asked Jose why he decided to start his business in Union Square. It turns out Jose has been looking for a “nice spot” to open a restaurant for the past two years. While at Blue Fin he realized that a lot of his customers were from Union Square. “There is no sushi in Union Square, and this location on the street is great for business,” Jose affirmed.
When asked how business is going, Jose replied with a grin, “Check out Yelp.” So I did. Ebi Sushi has 4.5 stars—all with glowing reviews about Jose’s customer service, the quality of the food, and the affordable prices.
Though he is new to the neighborhood Jose has already become a part of the Union Square community. “My old customers recognize me and come in. They do not go to Blue Fin anymore since I am here. But I have many new customers, too,” says Jose, who reckons that about forty percent of his customers are regulars.
So what are people ordering when they come in? The menu is extensive featuring sushi, tempura, teriyaki, chicken and pork cutlets, grilled shrimp and scallops, pan-fried vegetables, noodle soups, curried rice and more. But Jose reports the most popular dishes are Spider rolls and shrimp tempura. Curious, I asked Jose what he recommends. “Definitely the volcano roll or the sweet potato roll,” he replied. The volcano roll, I learned, features tuna with crispy tempura flakes. I tried the sweet potato roll. The sweetness of the fried sweet potato is complemented with the crispness of cucumber and the richness of avocado; it is finished with the saltiness of an eel sauce—all in all, quite a delicious affair.
Before leaving, I inquired, “Why the name Ebi Sushi?” Jose replied, “Ebi means shrimp.” And, then he continued with another smile, “Plus, it’s easy to pronounce; people won’t forget it.” (By the way, it’s pronounced eh-bee.) So readers, there you have it: Don’t forget to check out Ebi Sushi!
290 Somerville Ave | 617.764.5556 | www.ebisushi.com Hours: Mon-Thurs & Sun, 11:30am-10pm; Fri & Sat, 11:30am-10:30pm. Delivery: Mon-Fri, 5pm-10pm; Sat & Sun, 12pm-10pm.