Snappy Sushi
Davis Square
Cambridge, MA

California roll
avocado, crabstick, cucumber
Philadelphia roll
cream cheese, smoked salmon
Spicy shrimp tempura roll
shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, green leaf, flying fish roe with spicy mayo
Portabella roll
roasted portabella, red & yellow pepper, cucumber, green leaf with basil sauce wrapped in vegetable sheet

Gyoza, as on our previous visit, make an excellent, lightweight introduction to a night of sushi. These gyoza are so delicate and tender that if you are ham-fisted or awkward with your chopsticks, you will probably have trouble eating them. We’re pretty deft with our chopsticks (not pros by any means, but fairly accomplished in wielding them), and we even paused before applying too much pressure to the vegetable-and-tofu dumplings. The spicy sauce with which they were served was, again, spicy, and just a swipe was enough to add flavour and depth. You really only get one chance at each dumpling, because once you’ve bitten through you can’t put it down to readjust your grip or the whole thing falls apart. I’m not complaining — these gyoza are fantastic.

We took our time eating the gyoza to give the chefs time to prepare our main course, but it was ready for us as soon as we’d cleared our appetizer. Our experimental sushi for the day was the fancy Portabella roll, which is a warm sushi and is wrapped in a vegetable sheet, just as the mamemaki roll which DH and I tried on a previous visit to the Snappy Sushi location on Newbury Street. The ratio of ingredients was spot-on, without one taste or texture becoming dominant over all the others, but despite the quality I wasn’t overly enamoured. The basil sauce must have been oil-based, as its oiliness started to overpower the rest of the textures. It was good, but it wasn’t sushi as I knew it.

Granted, neither, technically speaking, is the Philadelphia roll. I’ve noticed that it depends on the place and it depends on the evening’s chef, but Philly rolls can be heavy on the salmon, heavy on the cream cheese, or salmon and cream cheese in equal proportions. I much prefer the texture of rolls heavy on cream cheese, as the texture of a big lump of smoked salmon is just too much for me. This evening’s Philly rolls were rather stingy with the cream cheese, but I managed. I love when the fish is properly foiled by the creamy texture of the cheese, instead of the cheese flavour and texture being lost on a large piece of fish. Ah well, one takes one’s chances. Delicious with a generous dip in the soy sauce dish nonetheless.

Ah spicy shrimp tempura rolls, how I love thee. Oversized and no way to eat in a ladylike fashion, one just has to dive in and enjoy. My only complaint is the end piece, with the two shrimp tails protruding, because these have to be demolished a little in order to be eaten. Sometimes if there is enough tail left on, I can bite through the roll and discreetly detach the tails with my chopsticks, but that wasn’t possible here and I had to do some surgery. It made the roll a little unstable, but it all went in my mouth in one go and it was delicious. I didn’t used to be a spicy foods person, but spicy shrimp tempura rolls are the sort of spicy I like best — a steady level of heat with no hidden surprises. The first time I ever had flying fish roe I thought I was allergic, as the skin on my neck began to itch shortly after my meal. It turns out that may have been the wool sweater I was wearing, as I have never been inconvenienced by flying fish roe since.

The Davis Square outpost of Snappy Sushi has changed the interior up a little since our last visit this past winter. The main dining room had been dominated by a large, family-style table around which small parties were seated, but either they received complaints from guests (lack of privacy? awkwardness?) or they realised that an arrangement of smaller tables (tables for two along the walls, a few tables for four placed in the center) actually maximized the capacity of their dining room. They don’t have a large arrangement of counters the way the Newbury Street outpost does, an arrangement which does maximize that location’s small space. I did notice that by the time we were finishing our meal, the dining room was filling and a few parties were waiting when we left. I think the redecoration may have had more to do with capacity and less to do with any negative feedback from diners (it was an unorthodox seating arrangement for this country, but I liked the freshness).