Sugidama, Davis Square, Somerville, MA

My friends and I gave the brand new Sugidama a try on Monday, and really enjoyed ourselves.

You’d never know this place used to be a cramped medical clinic. It’s been totally transformed into a bright, open space with lots of natural wood and stylish subtle Asian touches. We ordered several small items to start with: a Philly roll, some grilled shishito peppers, beef kalbi from the itzakaya grill, and some fresh soft tofu. The kalbi (thin cut teriyaki beef ribs) were delicious; we ordered a second. I really enjoyed their house-made soft tofu, which came with a small tray of toppings. The chef also sent out a complimentary tempura mackrel, which I dug.

All three of us ended up ordering the sukiyaki soba, which came in large steaming bowls along with soft poached eggs. The broth was terrific – sweet, savory, and rich without being too heavy, and the meat & tofu was perfectly tender. Their house-made soba noodles had a great texture and chew, and will be great in the summer when served cold. I was in Japan 10 years ago, and the flavors of everything we had brought me back.

They aren’t serving alcohol yet – we all had cans of Japanese melon soda. I’ll happily go back; this is a great addition to the square.


Very much looking forward to trying Sugidama. They posted a pic on Instagram of their tuna dumplings (raw tuna wrapped lobster, mango, and tobiko, immersed in yuzu sauce), that looked mouth watering. I am hopeful their takoyaki will be worthwhile.

What were the prices like?

I am disappointed they aren’t serving alcohol. With the name of the restaurant, I am hopeful they will have a great sake selection.

Higher than, say, Snappy Ramen nearby, but still reasonable: $16 for the big bowl of soba, $4 for the kalbi, $6 for philly maki. Their soft-opening menu is here. One note: there’s a sign on their door that says “15% off during soft-opening” but they didn’t actually give me 15% off. That was okay.

They were very apologetic about it and clarified that they’d be serving it soon. I think the very first thing our server did was to apologize that they didn’t have sake yet. I definitely look forward to their selection when they’re allowed to sell it.

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Thanks for your report! Can you say more about the toppings? Did you like the tofu more or the toppings more?

It came with very thin threads of what I believe was hijiki seaweed, a little pile of bonito flakes, some finely-sliced scallions, and some fresh grated ginger. The waitresses showed me how to take a scoop of the tofu, top it with the ginger, then drizzle soy sauce over it before adding the other toppings as I wanted. Their tofu was fresh (made in house daily, they told me, “in the traditional Japanese fashion”), with a firm custardy texture and a light clean flavor, and with the toppings was a refreshing way to start a meal.


Can’t go wrong with good fresh ingredients and garnish! Any idea if they use fancier japanese dipping soy sauce?

Good question. The soy is in small clay dispensers (along with a small dish of shichimi hot pepper powder). I’ll ask next time I’m there.

I went back a few days ago and had the kitsune soba, which was very tasty, though not as hearty a meal as the sukiyaki. A half dozen slices of fried, marinated tofu skin atop a soy broth, no meat.

We had lunch here today. My daughter is just about to have this baby and she wanted to research diapers at the Diaper Lab. The perfect excuse to have a special meal together.

Ignore the website Lunch Menu. It doesn’t actually exist, so though I had planned on ordering the Tonkatsu, this was not an option. The space feels like many places I enjoyed in Japan. They have created an anti-chamber so there is a nice air lock for colder weather. This pre-room forces you to make a turn to enter the interior door, immediately softening what is essentially a strip-mall office building. Inside, the decor is very Japanese. There are blonde woods, clean and simple lines, lovely condiment sets on each table perfectly aligned, and a soothing abstract water mural along a long wall.

The menu is quite extensive, since it isn’t a lunch menu but our young waitress explained that the lunch menu was not yet on paper, so for now, you order for the larger menu and get a 15% discount. It took us a while to decide what we wanted, but we finally settled on 5 yakitoris and the vegetable tempura.

The Harami [beef and onion] and Negima [chicken thigh with scallion] arrived first. These three pieces of beef might be the best bit of beef I have eaten in a long time. I didn’t get to try the chicken. Next the Shishito [peppers] arrived with the Megi Pon [pork with scallions and a ponzu sauce.] The ponzu sauce was amazing! Even after we finished the dish, we didn’t allow anyone to take that plate with all that sauce. The waitress giggled and said lots of people have that response. I love shishito peppers and this didn’t disappoint. The final arrival was the calamari. As is common this was a very large calamari, cut into rings after grilling. This was very good, but there was a lot and we didn’t quite finish. At some point, the vegetable tempura arrived and this stuff was good! The vegetables were sweet potato, squash, shies leaves, and one other item that the girl child loved and I didn’t get to taste.

Lunch was $30.00 plus tip with one soda.

No question that we will be back, probably at lunch for the discount. Every bite of food was special.


Quick follow up – I went back with friends this week for dinner, and the place was completely packed with a small queue in the lobby. We waited 15 mins or so to be seated, and dinner took quite a while as they seemed utterly overwhelmed. They were desperately trying to keep up but dinner took 2.5 hrs. I’m glad they’ve been ‘discovered’ but I certainly hope they can ramp up to take care of guests efficiently. Food was lovely and delicious and worth the wait.

We had dinner there Saturday night at the prime family hour of 6pm. There were open tables, and when we left about 7, they still weren’t 100% full, so otter’s experience might have been unusual. Food was good- had appetizers of the housemade tofu and baby octopus. I like that the waitress gave us suggestions on how to top and eat the tofu, and I hope that no one more familiar with the dish would be put off by the step by step eating instructions.

We got chicken meatball yakitoris for the sprouts, and were quite amazed that they followed the waitress’s instruction to dip them in the raw quail egg which is served on the side. Not for the faint of heart preschooler. Grilled squid was indeed a large portion, and we got one house special maki roll- something with tuna and spicy tuna and shrimp. One hot duck soba, and a side of plain soba for the sprouts.

I thought the food was all well-cooked, the soba had a great texture, and the price point seemed about right. The space is very spare, and would likely be extremely loud when full. Service was, if anything, too attentive. Our food came flying out of the kitchen with no pauses-- great when you’re with kids approaching their bedtime; not great otherwise. We also had at least 5 different waitstaff attempted to take our orders. Despite ordering things willy-nilly from different people, all the food made its way to us, but it seemed a bit chaotic. I’m glad they’re there because there’s nothing else like it nearby, and hope they do well. Especially if they can stick some tables out front in that courtyard come summer, I bet they’ll stay busy.

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I’m surprised Sugidama doesn’t get more love, though I’m not complaining as I still can get a table pretty much every time. They have something for everyone and it’s mostly very good. The Yakitori is some of the best around with a wide selection. The whole squid is fantastic. Sushi is quite good as well. We seem to end up ordering the hamachi kama every time. Their black board specials are always a crowd pleaser. Soba are not my favorite noodles but their uni soba dish makes me happy (after all it’s covered in uni). It’s hard to go wrong on the menu, though the breadth can be overwhelming at first. It’s definitely not a place to go with people who want their own individual orders of most things. Prices are reasonable.


I agree. I eat there off and on – thought I had written about it, but I guess not.

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I am glad you put this back on my radar, thank you.

And @fooddabbler would love to hear what you have enjoyed here.

3 years down from my review above, I still love this place. The quality of the food is so far above and beyond all the other Asian fusion/poke/sushi burrito nonsense that’s come (and likely will go) in the interim. I honestly think their location is a huge handicap, because even as someone who has been a fan from their opening, I forget about them. Out of sight; out of mind. And when the tree island thingies were ripped out of the courtyard a few years back, I thought, oh good, now some benches and a proper hang-out spot will find its way onto the scene. But sadly, that courtyard remains a desolate wasteland.


I’m a little less fully enthralled (is partial enthrallment possible?) with Sugidama than some of the posts above. I do think it’s very good, and I eat there off and on as I said, but there are often little glitches that keep me from going there as frequently as I might.

We’ve enjoyed their soba, both hot and chilled, in the past, but I haven’t had noodles of any kind there in over a year. I agree that their skewers are very good, but over the time that Wafu Ya was open in Porter Square, I thought the skewers there better. I’ve sometimes had a skewer of tough meat at Sugidama. I generally enjoy the sushi there, but there are occasional inconsistencies here as well. A special (in addition to the blackboard they have a printed card of specials, and this was off it) of scallops was excellent on my first try – thin slices of scallop, each on a very thin slice of cucumber with a drop of wasabi oil on top. The scallop was supported beautifully by the other members of the cast. On a second try, though, the cucumber was cut way too thick and there was a smear of a different, too-sweet sauce. You could barely taste the scallop. If my memory is correct the dish works out to about 2 bucks a bite (which is what each scallop-on-cuke slice is), a little too much to tolerate a misfire. The sushi on their regular menu has always been very good, and beautifully presented, but there are serving missteps here and there. The last time I was there they brought my sushi out very late, and were just placing it in front of me when they whisked it away and ran back to the open kitchen. We looked over and saw some frying activity going on, before they returned with the plate, now adorned with two crunchy shrimp heads.

On balance, I do think it a very good place, and well worth supporting. I agree that their location is unfortunate, tucked away as they are. (Also parking in Davis , as it’s getting to be everywhere, is hard now. The lot just next to them was reliable in the past as long as you avoided the 12–1:30 window, and even then you had a good chance if you hung around for a few minutes. Now it’s quite hard, even at 11:30 or at 2:00, and on at least one occasion around an early lunch time I have given up and gone elsewhere.)


I’ve eaten here several times since I last posted about it, and I like it more and more. Their skewers have been very good lately, especially the pork belly, rib-eye, and chicken thigh, as have various pieces of assorted sushi. It’s become a bit of a regular Friday lunch place for me and my daughter.


The menu is extensive, so you do sort have to dial in what you like. I agree the skewers are generally good.


Apart from what you’ve recommended upthread (squid, etc.), is there anything else you’ve had there recently that I should eat?

The board specials are always a good bet. They generally have a few special fish varieties for sushi as well as several other offerings (yakitori, cooked dishes and or crudo). One of my kids enjoyed the lobster omomiyaki recently. While not my preferred delivery method for lobster it was pretty tasty.

If eating quick or solo, their donburi bowls make a great meal.

Strangely the only thing I don’t prefer are the soba dishes. I also don’t eat many maki.



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