Most of the shops along the strip are owned by immigrants. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
The street is named English Plaza, after a former Red Bank mayor. But for the majority of businesses along the short block, English is a second language.
Of the eight shops in the strip of one-story business, at least six are owned by immigrants. That far outpaces the borough’s foreign-born population, which comprises 20 percent of residents, according to the Census.
Here are the stories of five, owners of two restaurants, a home decor shop, a beauty salon and a liquor store.
The first food festival of the year in a restaurant-crazy town is like opening day for revelers and foodies alike. Seventeen or so of the borough’s finest eateries will be on hand to dispense culinary treats – savory, sweet, and exotic, including:
A fresh platter of sushi from Toki in Red Bank features uni, yellowtail hamachi, tuna and a Toki Roll. Below, three chefs work Toki’s sushi bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
An area of Red Bank that was once a desert for those craving the cuisine of the Far East is fast becoming what we might call Little Asia.
For several years, following the departure of the Jade Garden takeout place on Broad Street, the only choices were Sogo Sushi and Teak Asian Fusion on facing corners of Monmouth Street. But since the opening of Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street in 2011, the downtown has seen the addition of Pho Le across the street and Oriental Empire just one block over on English Plaza.
Now, there’s another Asian place in the burgeoning mix of restaurants: Toki, at the corner of Monmouth and Broad is a light-filled, upscale Japanese restaurant dressed in a tranquil aesthetic of celadon green and natural wood adornments.
Thick Japanese style udon noodles and a tender steak entree served on a fun, wonky-shaped plate. Below, waitress Yuki explained not only the vast menu offerings but the story of the wall mural. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
An ancient Chinese myth full of romance and heartbreak is the theme of murals gracing two walls at Oriental Empire, a recent addition to the Red Bank dining scene in English Plaza.
Found amid the murals of the Seven Sisters and the glowing stars, there are earthy wooden tables, stools at a counter with a view of the parking lot, a flat screen TV in one corner and a large hibachi grill.
Like the contradictory decor, the menu also offers choices to suit a myriad of tastes. True to the restaurant name, the food – while decidedly Asian – is not specific to one country or ethnicity. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Indian influences can all be found here, and some of the dishes seem to be a fusion of the different styles and cultures, like the starter of samosas that we shared.