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Heading east on Old Northern Boulevard (25A) where it meets Northern Boulevard (25), you'll see a trio of black and white striped umbrellas shading wrought iron tables. Look again and you'll notice the sign reading "Maguro."
Maguro is not your usual Japanese restaurant. For starters, the building resembles a Japanese farm house like those where rice or silk worms are grown. There's a cathedral ceiling and windows which frame the striped umbrellas. The interior uses ultra-dark oiled wood, maple table tops and white walls. Red carpeting adds a color accent.
The sushi bar, with ample arm chairs, is the most charming I've seen. And the arrangement of china, baskets and such and on the shelves behind is understated elegance. To add to that, a white orchid blooms at the end.
It is there that Miyagi, Maguro's proprietor, is stationed, taking in every detail of his domain. If your eyes meet, he inquires, "Do you like it?"
At dinner, there's a fashionably dressed hostess in black, modern Japanese. Formally dressed wait staff, glide about.
Lunch began with a wonderful oyster dish - crispy fried oysters with a brown sauce that enveloped them like delectable velvet. The luncheon menu featured casserole dishes, one grouping with rice, the other, noodles. My pork cutlet casserole was batter-dipped cutlets, cut in half-inch strips set atop rice, moist and well seasoned with an omelet-like mixture poured on top, then baked. Here we have comfort food, Japanese style.
Ice cream was one possibility for dessert, but when mochi was offered, I went for it. The rice paste pattie stuffed with coffee ice cream was a delight. Three, silver-dollar-sized, were served with an oyster-type fork. And then came the handle-free, tall, pottery cup of green tea.
I had been seated at a table for two with impressively large armchairs beside the sushi bar and liked it so much that I quickly acquiesced when it was offered for dinner. Sushi was a must tonight.
After using the hot rolled towel, I ordered crab and avocado roll. The presentation was dramatic: a rectangular, black, deep-sided trough with three long green leaves across the bottom plus baby bamboo shoots emerging from either end. Therein sat eight tiny rolls, the most petite I have seen with the rice, the seaweed, the crab and avocado. Delightful. And I couldn't help thinking, "How perfect for today's sophisticated cocktail party with nickel- and dime-size tidbits."
Then there was eggplant in a shallow, amazingly wide soup plate set on a folded burgundy napkin on a service platter. The eggplants, two-inch long Japanese ones, were sliced, poached and served in a fine, low key, ginger sauce by executive chef Ari from Osaka. A spoon is brought with the dish so you may savor it.
Tonight my entree was a dish of jumbo noodles and seafood in sauce. I must say, the noodles seemed small to be classified as jumbo. On the other hand, the seafood was generous.
I tried mochi again, simply because this time mango had been offered. The rice covering was mango-colored and so was the ice cream interior. I preferred the coffee version. It seemed a better pairing.
A mother, grandmother and two young girls were dining at this early hour. After meticulously rerolling their hot towels, they hurried to the sushi bar to watch the preparation and were delighted when the sushi chef pretended to walk downstairs behind the bar and then up again.
It is also possible to dine Japanese outdoors at Maguro. And if you are interested in wine, there is a large selection on display as you enter including a very fine plum wine with two plums inside the bottle.
For a more unique Japanese dining experience, try Maguro. I should note: Zagat has blessed it too.
The Bottom Line
Unique setting in farmhouse-style building with umbrella tables for outdoor dining. Gracious sushi bar. Full range of wines. Fine Japanese desserts. Excellent service.
1532 Northern Blvd.
All Shrimp Steamed Dumplings (homemade, served with mustard sauce)...$17
Grilled Deep Water Oysters (Kumannoto oyster served on half shell with garlic butter sauce, 8 pcs)...$l7.50
Grilled Chilean Seabass (miso marinated, juicy tender, boneless)...$35
Flambéed Ocean Beef Steak (red tuna prepared with almond cognac, garlic sauce)...$35
Anmitsu (Japanese dessert consisting of sweet gelatin, red beans & fruits)...$4.50
Yokan (Japanese thick red bean Japanese dessert)...$4.50
Setting: Japanese farm house. Umbrella tables among trees for outdoor dining
Hours: L Mon-Fri. D 7 days
Dress code: Casual
Location: Where 25A (Old Northern Blvd) meets 25 (Northern Blvd.)
Credit cards: All major
Private parties: Tatami room with chairs and tables for 14
Off-premise catering: Yes (mini sushi)
Noise level: Fri & Sat, low
Handicap access: Yes
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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