Bizen Gourmet Japanese Cuisine
In the mid-90s, when Bizen, the Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, first opened, it must have seemed like the last word in exotica—Japanese decor and real sushi chefs showing off their fancy blade-work in plain sight. Since then, much has changed on the culinary scene. The ubiquitous cheap sushi that's sold in supermarkets makes that which was once so rarefied now seem routine. Other sophisticated restaurants have raised the bar in the Berkshires. And values have changed. Turns out there are not a lot of fish left in the sea, and even if there were, the nearest ocean is nearly 200 miles east—twice the locavore-sanctioned distance between food source and plate. Yet Bizen (where the sushi is not cheap) thrives. On weekends, the place is packed, leaving an often overtaxed waitstaff to soothe a peckish public struggling to make sense of a menu that is nothing short of gargantuan. The Dinner Specials alone fill seven pages with such groaners as Viagra (boiled eel, giant clam, etc.) and Condoleezza Rice. So what's the big draw? One theory: People who crave Japanese food—and it is addictive—are not really interested in variety, they just want their old favorites. And if they ignore the printed menu here and ask for them, they fill the bill. Bizen 17 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA (413) 528-4343 Lunch: Monday - Friday Noon - 2:30 p.m; Saturday & Sunday Noon - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: Monday - Thursday & Sunday 5:00 - 9:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5 - 10 p.m.
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