Small Bite: Reinventing the Roll

Gari serves up sushi that’s anything but standard.

In Brookline, sushi joints are more plentiful than Starbucks outlets. And from the outside, newcomer Gari—Japanese for pickled ginger—looks like any other Coolidge Corner storefront. But inside, owners Diane Chung and Gary Huang have forgone the stereotypical blond-wood-and-Asian-screen décor (see nearby high-end raw-fish haunts Ginza and Fugakyu) and transformed their tiny space into a sleek black-and-white world that reflects their ambition to add some excitement to the ubiquitous Japanese fare. The Caribbean phyllo-crusted prawns are all crisp, flaky dough and tender sweet-and-sour shrimp; the tempura udon a potent blend of lightly fried veggies and thick, salty noodles.

But it’s the specialty rolls that make Gari stand out from its neighbors: Top picks include the Black Diamond maki (spicy lobster with radish sprouts, cucumber, and black sesame seeds) and the 187 maki (salmon, jalapeño, and asparagus). Best of all, portions are large and prices reasonable—a winning combo that makes Gari a unique concept, indeed. —Sascha de Gersdorff

187 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-277-2999,