By SUSAN ERICSON
Shades of gray and black dominate the tables, slate flooring and walls of Kanji Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, a Japanese restaurant in the Tinton Falls strip mall that was once anchored by an A&P and is now an Acme at the intersection of Shrewsbury Avenue and Route 35.
In this cave-like setting, the well-lit sushi bar takes center stage. Maybe this was a tactical design, because we went in thinking of soup but wound up ordering sushi.
Yellowtail roll, rainbow roll and sashimi from the sushi bar at Kanji. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The January chill had PieHole yearning for hot soup and not just miso soup. We wanted something hearty and filling.
A simply named seafood soup, served in a rustic pottery bowl, turned out to be more than we hoped for. A clear and lightly salty broth was the base for a surprising number of ingredients.
Three large shrimp, sea scallops sliced into bite-size pieces and tiny but sweet manila clams overflowed the bowl. Fresh julienned slices of snow peas, carrots, and parsnips added texture while earthy morsels of shiitake mushrooms brought a meaty, umami essence to the otherwise sweet soup. Listed as an appetizer, at $8, it was delicate in flavor and satisfying enough to be a main course.
A rainbow roll and yellowtail roll, two of the most elemental sushi options, came to the table quickly and were exactly as expected. The rainbow roll is basically a California roll wrapped in sashimi. Artful slivers of salmon, yellowtail, red snapper and avocado decorated the outside of the nori-encased sticky rice.
Ponzu sauce, the lightly sweet and salty condiment that often accompanies a rainbow roll, was left out.
We almost missed the hibachi-table-filled room in the back. The surrounding darkness in the restaurant tends to make the decor fade into the walls. So if you’re looking for a lunchtime hide-away, this is the place.
Kanji is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and at 1 p.m. on weekends. The lunch specials menu is not available on the weekend.
Check out Kanji in Sifter!