Opened in April 2010 by the same owner of Douzo in the Back Bay, Basho the Japanese term for "a place where things happen" is a welcome addition to the Fenway neighborhood. Indeed things are happening, all of them good, at this sleek ultra modern establishment that embodies its label as a Brassiere, minus the French part of course. The vibe is relaxed while the setting leans towards upscale, the service is informal and friendly while remaining exceptionally efficient. My sister and I have fairly regular sushi nights and Basho was just delightful! It was sufficiently busy on a Tuesday evening, but not busy enough where we had to wait for a table without a reservation. We were greeted immediately and swiftly ushered into the large dining room where uniform rows of polished black tables are separated by potted bamboo. A sushi bar running the length of the dining room commands attention; backed by ultra thin light fixtures illuminating the white wall. The dining room is separated from the entrance / bar area by geometrical shaped muted lime green booths, all of which were full upon arrival. Leah and I immediately took note of the sake samplers being enjoyed at the table to our left - sparkling like they were sent down from the heavens above, each mini glass with its own personal garnish. Serious drink envy set in. We were bummed when our waiter informed us it was part of a special Ru La La dinner deal and alas, no sake sampling for us. I made a shameless plug for the sampler via my $40 Groupon, (no dice) before we settled on carafes of warm sake. A Sho Chiku Bai ($8) your classic Junmai satiated our sake appetites. Speaking of classics, we started with an order of Edamame ($4.75) precisely flavored with sea salt and lime before diving into an order of the Fried Oyster Special ($7.95).A plump oyster gets a hearty coating of panko bread crumbs and is fried until golden brown. The contrast of the warm slippery bivalve to the crispy panko exterior proves a perfect pop-able bite. And then, there was this. My expectations were fairly high in the sushi department and Basho offered some impressively unique maki that rose to the occasion.
Whoever is to be credited with the invention of the Celtic Maki Burrito ($16.95) I'd like to personally thank. Named for its green wrapper, this piece de resistance consists of a whole spicy tuna roll wrapped in soy paper and deep fried in a light tempura batter. An array of sauces including barbecued unagi, basil oil and jalapeño aioli accompany this bliss inducing bite. Make that five bites. It is a (mini) burrito after all. I'd go back solely on its behalf. Other phenoms include the gorgeous looking Amaebi Mango Roll ($13.95). With grilled pineapple and juicy mango chunks, this creative maki embraced summery, tropical fruits, which paired beautifully with the cucumber and shrimp. The mango sauce was perhaps a little too sweet - either that or it should have been drizzled on top with a bit more restraint. I'm usually picky about the construction of the rolls themselves, this one would have benefited from a more precise construction, as certain maki towards the center were falling apart in our chopsticks before making it in to the essential soy sauce/ginger/wasabi dip. Fortunately, the Scallop Kiwi Roll ($13.95) stayed in place start to finish. I love that Basho incorporates various fresh fruit in their maki. Clearly, we were drawn to these types of rolls. In this creation thinly sliced scallop, juicy kiwi and black tobiko top a well made roll of minced seafood, a seaweed salad and tempura crumbs. We decided not to stop at green burritos and fruit laced maki. For dessert we ordered the Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream ($5.00) What's better than an ice cream sundae? Why, that would be a deep fried ice cream sundae. Washed down with a glass of Choya Umeshu Plum ($7) dessert wine, immense satisfaction set in. Another draw to this Fenway hot spot located at 1338 Boylston Street is the fact that they validate parking ($4 under three hours) at the garage around the corner. This is especially helpful if you decide to dine during a Red Sox game. With robust menu options and sushi worthy of praise, I would happily return to sample more of Basho's offerings. And to order the Celtic Maki Burrito again - definitely that.