Zipango's Sushi Bar and Grille

270 Shrewsbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts





What was old is new again! I was one of the earliest patrons of the first iteration of Zipango, after it replaced the Sweetheart Indian restaurant on Shrewsbury Street. I also became quite disappointed as the quality of the restaurant declined over time, while the prices increased.

I can happily say this is no longer the case, having finally made my way to the new and improved Zipango's Sushi Bar and Grille. I received many requests by email for a new review of the establishment since it opened under new management; the word on the street was that the new Zipango's was not to be missed. I finally had a chance to try it for myself on 2/5/04.

Complimentary valet parking is something that the old restaurant desperately needed. I very much appreciated not having to search for parking on the frequently filled street; so kudos for the new valet service.

The most striking difference is one of atmosphere - the old restaurant was really more of a sports bar than a sushi bar, and played popular and hip-hop music... this has been replaced by a very subdued and classy mahogany and maroon interior. Dark stained bamboo hangs from the ceiling, Japanese artwork adorns the walls, and smooth jazz is quietly piped into the dining area.

The bar is transformed both in counter area and in selection - a martini menu meets the needs of the trendy Shrewsbury Street dining crowd, and a very, very extensive wine menu with several dozen varieties available by the glass. I chose a pleasant 2002 Pinot Grigio that was very light and just a tad crisp. I was offered a dinner menu for eating at the bar itself; it seems that there's a lot more seating available.

The menu now includes a selection of choices from the grill, including some steak choices that may give the 111 Chop House some competition! I was a bit disappointed that there was no duck offering on the menu even though beef, chicken and lamb were featured. The appetizer menu and salad menus also offer many fine looking choices.

For dinner, my friend and I ordered the maki & sushi platter, a sashimi and sushi platter, and a la carte tiger eye, inari, and unagi. Some pre-dinner miso soup was quite tasty, an appreciated holdover from the old restaurant! Each piece of sushi was very artfully presented on a large platter, and the quality of the fish was very high indeed.

After dinner, we decided dessert was in order and partook of bananas flambe and "dark side" chocolate cake - both of which were incredibly delicious, and actually were great to share as they complemented each other wonderfully. A "dessert trio" of these two with maybe a fruity tart or mousse would be amazing!

My friend remarked that the thing he misses most about the old Zipango is the "all you can eat" buffet. It was a great value, even when the price went up several times. While I wouldn't necessarily advocate its return, I would definitely suggest a "half price after 10pm" kind of policy, as that would draw in a great late night crowd. At $50 a person for excellent soup, sushi, and dessert, I would definitely say the value is a good one for Shrewsbury Street.

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