While many, if not most, top sushi places in the Greater Boston area seem to be concentrated in Boston itself as well as in Cambridge, Brookline, and other communities that are near the city, good sushi places can also be found a bit further out in the suburbs. But mention that a terrific Japanese restaurant and sushi bar can be found in South Easton and a typical response may be "There is?" or perhaps "Huh?" Well, there is indeed a very nice Japanese and Korean spot in this quiet community south of Boston, and the atmosphere at Hayashi, which is on Route 138 (just north of Route 106), is actually nicer than many other sushi bars closer to Boston.
Hayashi is one of those places that is easy to overlook, or not see at all, for that matter, if you don't know of its existence. Its location in a little strip mall on a road that has a number of strip malls does nothing to help this, as does the fact that the place is extremely small (though the open fire--when lit--that is outside of the restaurant does help make it stand out a bit at night). The interior of Hayashi is limited to perhaps seven tables, with four seats at the closet-sized sushi bar and another couple of seats partitioned off in an area that almost seems like an afterthought. But even though the place is tiny, it is big on charm and coziness, with an old-looking wooden floor, an electric fireplace, and a quiet, serene vibe that helps make it a somewhat intimate and romantic place, especially at night.
There are few surprises on the menu at Hayashi, but it is really more about the quality of the food here than the offering of particularly unique dishes. Included among the sushi options and entrees are a few items that not all Japanese restaurants have, however, including some Korean items such as kimchi, bibimbab, and bulgogi. Appetizers at Hayashi run the gamut from gyoza (the tender beef and vegetable dumplings are especially good) to shumai (made with shrimp and vegetables and can be ordered fried or steamed); to deep-fried soft shell crab (a citrus-based ponzu sauce comes with it). Soups include a mild-tasting miso soup and a clear seaweed soup with shellfish, while noodle dishes include noodle soups as well as stir-fried noodles (yaki soba, yaki udon). Sushi lovers should find more than enough to satisfy their cravings, with nigiri sushi and sashimi, reversed maki rolls, hoso maki, delux and combo plates, and vegetarian options offered here. Highlights include a sweet-tasting ikura (salmon roe), a tender and delicate-tasting sake (salmon), a spicy "Double Dragon" that includes torched tuna on the outside (this is only occasionally offered, by the way), a slightly sweet inari (dried tofu) that contains rice inside a tofu "pocket," an earthy spinach maki, a meaty, rich maguro (tuna), a crunchy oshinko (Japanese pickle) maki, and an outstanding sweet potato tempura maki that is flash-fried to give it a slight crunch as well. Beer and wine can be ordered at Hayashi, as well as 4-ounce or 8-ounce servings of warm sake and a number of cold sake options. Prices are just a shade under what you might pay at a sushi bar closer to Boston.
South Easton will never be confused with Coolidge Corner or the Back Bay, but the combination of high-quality food, attractive atmosphere, and easy parking all make Hayashi a highly appealing choice for sushi lovers south of Boston. But even those who aren't south of the city may want to make a point of traveling to this lovely little spot just off of Route 24, as it is only a little more than a half hour from Boston proper (without traffic) and well worth the trip, especially if you're looking for someplace different to go to for Japanese fare.
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