Here’s a new report from Rater Becky Heynman on Evanston’s new Ninefish:

Ninefish had been open for just one week when I visited. They’ve set aside a small room with couches and an assortment of books about food for waiting diners, which is a nice touch–when we arrived the dining room was over half full (they seat about 40) and it was good to be out of the way and comfortable.

This is no cheap ethnic joint. The sleek decor and attentive service may be your first hint, but the menu confirms it. Also the tray of small tastes which was presented as we scaned the menu. A pile of salmon and tuna sashimi, a pickled plum, and a stack of slivers of green apple in a tart dressing piqued our palates. Amuse bouches are not found at your average Asian restaurant.The appetizers include excellent sushi and seafood plates like scallops sauteed with bacon. The scallops were firm and plump, the sauce good enough to scoop up with the spoon. The salmon in my maki roll was buttery and rich, and the crab was the real deal, not surimi (fake crab made from pollack).

For entrees we tried the rack of lamb, bathed in a sauce redolent of hoisin, the meat tender and rare. The rack had been cut so getting every last morsel was easy. A salmon steak with coconut-mango sauce was a huge slab of wonderful fish, easily two inches thick. It was grilled to just-done, and  the crackly skin was a real treat. The shrimp with walnuts and sweetened-condensed-milk sauce was a tower of tempura-fried shrimp with some candied walnuts as a garnish and a lovely light creamy sauce, almost a sabayon in texture. A dish of yellowtail came crusted with sesame and rare in the center.

As good as the food was, however, there were a few problems with the service. The salmon arrived before the last of the appetizers was served and sat at the edge of the table while we finished the scallops. And the table wasn’t quite served in synch, so we were all finishing at different times. In an appropriate but unexpected gesture the manager gave us free dishes of vanilla ice cream with his apologies.There are many varieties of tea available, from a straightforward jasmine to a wonderful roasted-brown-rice tea and green tea. The waitstaff was always ready to refil a cup or refresh the cast-iron pots with fresh hot water, and a water glass was never allowed get more than half empty.With another month’s practice Ninefish should be a superior dining experience all the way around.