Salem Food Digest - KOTO Grill - Japanese Grill & Sushi Lounge

A Fresh Look For A Washington Street Tradition

By The BaldOne

90 Washington Street, across from City Hall is a spot that has housed a restaurant in one form or another going back to the 1970’s.

Those of you of a certain age will remember when Mike Purcell had a seafood and burger joint there. They did a fairly good business. Afterwards it morphed into a Burger King for a few years. Yes Virginia, there was a BK, and even a small McDonalds in downtown Salem. 

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For a few years it was home to The Red Raven’s Havana, a spin-off of the unique Love Noodle on Congress Street.

More recently it has been home, under a few different ownerships to Bangkok Paradise, whose recent infamy overshadows what was once a solid and long-standing reputation.

The recent opening of Koto – Japanese Grill & Sushi Lounge has brought a long needed breath of fresh air to the local Asian Cuisine scene.

Visiting on a Thursday night we found a busy bar and a developing dining room crowd. The decor hasn’t changed. Some additional lighting and a karaoke set-up are the main changes. It’s a shame that a previous owner sanded all of the original artwork from the bar top.

A Sapporo beer was our selection to sip on as we parsed the menu. The selections are tight with some creative sushi and sashimi options. They offer white rice, brown rice, and  whole grain rice as sides.

We were offered a non-menu item called Spicy Tuna on Crispy Cracker. They are trying this offering out to see what people think of it. The taste was fresh and the texture perfect with the salted, crunchy cracker bringing a nice variation to the experience.

A small bowl of Miso Soup was served warm. It was good with a cloudy slightly salty broth, but we have had better.

Steamed Gyoza was next up. We selected the meat filled but they do offer a vegetable option. It was steamed perfectly and served warm. The dough was chewy but not tough, and the meat had a nice mellow spiciness.

If you really love your sushi and have a sense of daring and adventure, ask for the Chef’s Choice. He will choose five different items for you to include a sashimi. The presentation is basic, but attractive. To step it up a little the Sushi or Sashimi Deluxe look well worth the effort.

The highlight of the night was a Filet Mignon Carpaccio, strips of fresh raw filet served in a avipanca sauce with scallions and cucumber strips. If we had asked for that first, we may have ended up ordering a second round.

Koto Salem served us the best meal we have had since beginning this venture, they have earned,

The Salem Food Digest’s “We Can’t Wait To Go Back” designation.


KOTO Grill & Sushi Lounge

90 Washington Street 

Salem MA 01970