-By Devra First
Another longtime favorite, JP Seafood Cafe has been serving sushi on Centre Street for more than a decade. The spot is cute and cozy, the rolls are creative, and there are plenty of options for vegetarians.
Salmon and untraditional combinations are not at the top of my favorites list when it comes to sushi, but I have long appreciated the sunshine maki here. It's a roll of salmon, lemon, cilantro, and cucumber. The name is appropriate - the flavors are pleasingly bright and light. Citrus is a wonderful ingredient in sushi, something chefs at affordable places sometimes forget. (And though this is beside the point, I've also always liked their wasabi shumai, juicy pork dumplings that make your eyes water.)
The restaurant itself is a nice place to sit and have a casual meal, an ochre sliver of a room with a mural of swimming fish, and the sushi bar does brisk takeout business.
– by Lisa Amand
On a street famous for funk, this restaurant is like a hit of pure oxygen. Green lanterns, orange sponged walls festooned with primitive Korean masks, chairs of blond wood and black-topped tables look clean and uncluttered. The mural of marlin, eel, octopus, and tuna excites sushi-and teriyaki-lovers. Owner Phil Paik opened the café three years ago, and the neighborhood supports his efforts. By 8 p.m. on a Saturday hungry diners are waiting outside. Manager Krista Kranyak circulates the room, welcoming diners by name, stopping at table to chat.
She inspired trust, so we ordered Krista’s veggie maki-pretty, oversize rolls stuffed with spinach, oshinko pickle, avocado asparagus, burdock root and cucumber. The eel nigiri (fish over the rice) and reversed spicy tuna maki are so pristine and perfect; we wish were seated at the small sushi bar watching the chefs. But if we were, we would be missing the attentive and gracious waitresses. Japanese and Korean food goes well together but it’s hard for sushi addicts to control themselves, especially when the sake is flowing.
There are many choices of cold and warm sake, plum wines, Pacific Rim beers, and wines from Australia, Chile, Italy, and California. We force ourselves to try the bibimbop-a traditional meat and vegetable dish topped with a fried egg and accompanied by pungent chili paste. Ok-Dol bibimbop, beautifully presented in a hot stone pot, is real comfort food composed of shiitake mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, mung beans, daikon radish, lettuce, slices of marinated beef, and rice. You can also order this dish with chicken, raw tuna or salmon, or vegetarian with tofu.
Exceptional Restaurant of Massachusetts
JP Seafood Café has cultivated a devoted following since its opening in the spring of 1996. Diners flock here to savor elegantly appointed sushi boats, sizzling platters of delicately seasoned fish filets, and a delectable array of vegetarian dishes served in spirited surroundings.
A gracious and attentive service staff is at your disposal to assist in navigating the extensive menu and to recommend complementary selections from the many varieties of sake, plum wine, Pacific Rim beer and domestic imported wine available.
Best of City Search 2006
The service is friendly, polite, and prompt, and the food is very fresh and high quality. A definite “must do” if you’re visiting Jamaica Plain. “This is a hidden gem.”
This Seafood's Just Plain Great
– by Mat Schaffer
Despite the many new restaurants sprouting up in Jamaica Plain, old favorites such as JP Seafood Café never go out of style. Locals rave about the affordable Korean-Japanese menu, the small but savvy selection of cold sakes and the well-stocked (and popular) Sushi bar. They also say it’s a place where you can dine healthfully… and well. If there’s any dish that typifies JP Seafood Café, it’s the spicy calamari stir-fry.
It’s a giant portion, loaded with rings of squid and veggies. Lots of veggies: carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, red and green bell peppers, onions, scallions and zucchini, all mixed in a gingery sauce.
The secret is fresh ingredients and a subtle hand when it comes to spice: It’s hot but not burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot. And with a bowl of rice on the side, it’s a steal at $12.95. From bicycle messengers to young couples to multigenerational families of all ethnicities and sexual persuasions, the clientele is quintessentially Jamaica Plain. It’s enough to make you with JP Seafood Café was in your neighborhood.
CHEF'S NIGHT OUT MAGAZINE
From Four Star Restaurants to Neighborhood Favorites 100 Top Chefs Tell You Where (and How!) To Enjoy American's Best
August 23, 1998
– By Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page – James Beared Award-winning authors
Has this ever happened to you? You’re dying for sushi; your spouse is in the mood for bibimbap. Two dinners, two cuisines – and pizza’s not an acceptable compromise. All right, so maybe you’ve never actually faced this particular dilemma. But if you ever do, consider JP Seafood Café. It’s pleasant and slightly funky, a la Jamaica Plain, and it seems to succeed on both Japanese and Korean culinary fronts. You won’t find the more obscure dishes from either cuisine here, but the basics are done credibly.
Japanese-style, a soothing miso soup appeared before the meal. From among the several dumpling choices on the menu, we tried the ebi shumai, crisp shrimp filled barrels served with a vinegar-soy dipping sauce. We don’t usually attempt the more exotic sushi – eel or sea urchin – in restaurants that are new to us, so we played it safe with the sushi starter appetizer. It met the most important criterion for sushi, freshness, and featured such favorites as salmon and tuna. Jap-chae is a dish we’d travel a long way to eat.
There’s something irresistible about those slippery, clear noodles in their savory sauce. The version here offered a huge quantity of very fresh, crunchy vegetables and smaller quantities of chicken. The calamari stir-fry is the spicy squid and vegetables familiar to Korean food fans. Again, it was notable for its fresh, crunchy vegetables, and for its hot but not incendiary sauce, sparked with fresh ginger. We had to request kimchee, the famous Korean pickled cabbage, but we were glad we did; it was particularly delicious and fiery, and seemed homemade. Lots of families were here the night of our visit. If your kids won’t go for sushi, good choices include dumplings, noodle dishes or tempura.