Maguro sushi bar makes a splash

August 06, 1998|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Maguro in Glen Burnie is something of a rarity. It's a sushi bar that doesn't pretend to be anything else. There are just a few cooked items on the menu, not counting the cooked toppings for sushi - smoked eel, steamed shrimp and little omelets folded into neat bundles. What you will find here is exquisitely fresh, artfully prepared sushi and, if you must, Korean food through a surprising arrangement with an adjacent restaurant.

Sushi chef and owner Pong Yang and his wife, Angela, opened Maguro in February. They've rented space in the same building that houses Q's Korean restaurant. Diners at Maguro can order Korean dishes off Q's menu, and people eating at Q's can order sushi off Maguro's menu. That will come to an end when Maguro's eventually moves into its own permanent space somewhere in Baltimore. The Yangs are now negotiating for that space.

Wherever Maguro lands, sushi lovers are advised to follow. It's not just that the food is so fresh, but also that it's prepared and presented so beautifully.

One standout was the sunomono appetizer, a refreshing "salad" of cucumber strips tangled with long sashimi slivers of salmon, tuna, crab stick and red clam, topped with a smattering of bright orange masago (Japanese fish roe).

Even the seaweed salad was given extra attention; the chef layered slivered seaweed, cucumbers, scallions and masago.

The 12-piece platter of nigiri sushi featured three bite-size pieces each of firm-fresh salmon, tuna and red snapper mounded on portions of vinegared sushi rice. There also was one piece of cooked shrimp sushi, which we liked, and two pieces of red clam sushi, which were too chewy to appreciate. The Yangs are happy to make substitutions if you let them know beforehand.

The menu lists several combination platters of maki, the Japanese sushi rolls. But we ordered maki a la carte: fresh tuna with thin threads of cucumber, a Philly roll made with salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, and a skillfully constructed rainbow roll, topped with tuna, salmon and flounder and cut into six different-colored pieces. The sushi beginner at our table liked the yakitori roll, filled with cold, cooked teriyaki chicken instead of raw fish.

We also tried the yakitori hot, as a skewered appetizer. The teriyaki marinade was fine, but the dark-meat chicken was a bit tough. That was the same problem we had with an entree of teriyaki salmon; the thin slices of salmon were broiled a little too long. They were served atop a bowl of rice with a lush-tasting sauce that had the faint flavor of plums.

A special of cold buckwheat noodles, arranged on a pretty tray like skeins of gray yarn, got mixed marks. Dipping the noodles in a zesty, vinegar-based sauce did little to enliven them.

It might be wiser to stick mainly to the sushi side of the menu at this casual, bright restaurant. Sitting under the blond wood arbor of the sushi bar might be smart, too. It would guarantee the best service, especially if the Yangs are training a new waiter, as they were when we visited.

Maguro

131 Delaware Ave., off Baltimore & Annapolis Boulevard, Glen Burnie

410-787-2282

Hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Open Sunday for dinner only

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Prices: Appetizers, $1.50-$6.95; entrees, $7.95-$29.95 (30-piece sushi/sashimi platter)

Food: **1/2

Service: **

Atmosphere: **1/2

Ratings system: Outstanding: ****; Good ***; Fair or uneven **; Poor *

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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