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Taste

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The late Ol' Dirty Bastard said it best: "Oh, baby, I like it raw."

Clearly he was taking about sushi.

Loudog and I headed to the North End for sushi at Taste, the offshoot of Richard's. Not long ago it used to be a coffee shop. They changed the name from Little Richard's to Taste and kept serving coffee. Then they changed the menu from scones to Japanese but the coffee flavor of the place still lingers, thanks to the syrup bottles along the wall and the bathroom painting of coffee nymphs in a tree.

I'd never been to Taste for sushi before, but the rumor is that it's easy to drop big bucks on dinner. I shuddered at the thought, so I went for lunch. Unfortunately for cheapskates, Taste opens at 5 p.m. And they don't have a sushi happy hour.

I sucked it up and went back for dinner, promising myself I'd drink only water. Unfortunately, by which I mean fortunately, Taste has a hearty and attractive wine selection. The food menu is not long, but it has the sushi staples and a bunch of creative fancy rolls. Loudog and I ordered the sushi-for-two combo, which comes with either soup or salad, edamame, a spicy tuna roll, California roll and assortment of sushi and sashimi.

Miso soup is pretty standard in just about every restaurant, and Taste's isn't much different. However, the salad was great, with a soy ginger vinaigrette dressing, spicy and sweet with black sesame seeds. We should have ordered two salads and skipped the miso.

Then the server brought out the bowl of edamame—that's steamed soybeans with sea salt sprinkled on top and one of my favorite dishes. She also provided us with a disposal bowl for the rinds, which other restaurants forget to do. Props.

The dinner platter arrived shortly. Beautiful and symmetrical, it was loaded with petite rolls and flanks of raw fish. It was also fair, with two helpings of each fish so Loudog and I didn't have to duke it out for the salmon and ebi.

The sushi was great—particularly sweet, actually. But the $40 platter just didn't fill us up the way other local sushi haunts' sushi-for-two platters do, but in the end, we were generally satisfied. (Confession: Loudog stopped for a slice of pizza on the way home for a little more filler.)

I felt cool eating at Taste because the atmosphere and the other diners are hip. But Taste is a neighborhood sushi place; if it is in your neighborhood, consider yourself lucky to have a sushi place located nearby. But if it isn't your 'hood, well, you probably have a cozy coffee shop of your own—it just doesn't serve sushi yet.

—Jennifer Gelband is the Lone Ranger and her sidekick is Ikura.

Taste, 1530 N. 13th St., 336-5122. Mon.-Sun.: 5 p.m.-close

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