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CRAVINGS: A LIBRARIAN’S WEEKLY BENTO

Red Bank library director Elizabeth McDermott indulges her craving at Sogo Sushi. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

World traveler-turned-Red Bank Public Library director Elizabeth McDermott has a weekly itch that she scratches at Sogo Sushi on Monmouth Street: a bento box.

“It’s like comfort food to me,” says McDermott, whose previous job as a software consultant for Oracle took her all over the globe.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TABLEFUL AT TEMPLE

082616temple1Chicken with broccoli and Kung Pao chicken, two dishes on the lunch menu at Temple Gourmet Chinese. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Lunchtime seems to be a tough draw for Red Bank’s dine-in restaurants. While customers might find it difficult to get a table in the evening, some eateries do what they can in the form of specials to attract afternoon clients.

So when a member of the Red Bank Lunch Meet group suggested a meeting at Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street, throwing in the incentive of an $11 price point, PieHole was intrigued.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHINA MOON SHINES

051616chinamoon3From the lunch special menu: beef with black bean sauce. The artwork, below, is by the delivery guy. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051616chinamoon5If it’s not already on your radar, you might never notice China Moon, squished into a corner of a Red Bank strip mall between the Windmill hot dog stand and Crate’s Beverages.

But PieHole is putting the North Bridge Avenue eatery front and center, because when it comes to lunch, China Moon offers an affordable, extensive menu — and the food is delicious.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SIAM GARDEN PHAD THAI

032916siamgdn5The phad Thai lunch special at Siam Garden, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032915siamgdn1With the Thai New Year celebration (Songkran) just around the corner on April 13, PieHole thought it was a good time to visit Siam Garden. Located in the Galleria at West Front Street and Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, the restaurant has been serving traditional Thai dishes for 16 years.

Framed by architecture that includes concrete ceilings and pillars, vestiges of the building’s original incarnation as a turn-of-the-century uniform factory, the space is decorated with artifacts imbuing a peaceful Asian ambience. Light streaming in from surrounding windows, silken textiles and wooden tables and chairs bring warmth to what would otherwise be a cold interior.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUMPTUOUS SOUP

011615kanji1Seafood soup served in a rustic bowl at Kanji. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011616kanji3Shades 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.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A KISSUI FOR LUCK

091015kissui5What’s for Lunch? PieHole gets beef negimaki takeout from Kissui — and a lesson in that salt pile by the front door. Read about it here (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A KISSUI FOR GOOD LUCK

091015kissui5A beef negimaki lunch box from Kissui, filled with fresh vegetables and rice. Below, the entrance with its traditional salt pile.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091015kissui2In the vestibule of Kissui Sushi, a Japanese restaurant in the Markham Place shopping center in Little Silver, a little shelf filled with salt is the first thing that you notice.

Called morijio, meaning salt pile, the displays outside Japanese businesses are part of an old custom with various interpretations, but Kissui owner Jenny Nguyen tells us that it is “over the shoulder for good luck.”

Having eaten the sushi at Kissui many times, PieHole was looking for a little luck in the form of a hot lunch.

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WHATS FOR LUNCH? TOKI HAS THE ROLL

040415 tokis rollA 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

042115 toki2An 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.

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FOR LUNCH: SUPER GOLDEN TO THE RESCUE

021015 supergolden2Soups delivered by Super Golden Chinese Restaurant saved lunchtime for a hungry group of women at the Jon Lori Salon, including Pam Guzzo, below.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

021015 supergolden1Eyeing the cookie jar in the coffee station at Jon Lori Salon in Fair Haven, stomach rumbling, PieHole realized that scheduling back-to-back appointments left no time for lunch.

Pam Guzzo, a brilliant hair stylist and friend with supersonic hearing, handed me a folder full of menus.

“We’re ordering lunch,” she said, “what are you in the mood for?”

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RED BANK: GETTING CHILL WITH BUBBLE TEA

013115 bubbletea2Fabiana Villegas holding a vial of boba, above, and her “anatomy of bubble tea” wall drawing, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

013115 bubbletea3The latest attempt to satisfy the thirsts and sweet tooths – teeth? – of visitors to downtown Red Bank is a tea shop offering cold beverages with a chewy finish.

The new Chill Bubble Tea Bar, at 15 White Street, blends drinks that combine several types of tea and fruit juices with “boba,” or tapioca, that’s been infused with fruit flavor to deliver an intense, chewy mouthful that proponents claim is healthy stuff.

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A BOWL OF SOUP HEATS IT UP FOR LUNCH

121814 phole1Pho Le’s “S1” soup packs a spicy punch. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

pho le 1 102813In Vietnamese, “pho” means soup. On Broad Street in Red Bank, the enormous bowls of soup at Pho Le are just what you want for lunch in this freezing winter weather.

Wood paneling and artwork on the walls add a level of comfort to the space, where you can grab a quick lunch at the counter or take your time at a table.

When it’s zero degrees outside, sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup has some appeal. At Pho Le, there are 14 varieties of pho on the menu, some bringing serious spicy heat to the bowl.
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CHURN: ART PARTIES, RENT-A-PLATE & SUSHI

dorothy fadell 010714Dorothy Fadell opens her new business, Pinot’s Palette, on Broad Street this Saturday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThis debut 2015 edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn carries news of:

∗ A new art studio in downtown Red Bank where learning – or re-learning – to paint is a party, whether you’re a kid with a juice box or an adult sipping a glass of pinot noir.

∗ The departure of the town’s only fishing tackle store, and its replacement by a gift shop that will double as a place to buy or rent table linens, flatware and other “tablescaping” items.

∗ A name change for a planned sushi restaurant downtown.

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RED BANK: MIXED ASIAN AMID ROMANCE

122314 oriental3Thick 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

122314 oriental1An 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.

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RETAIL CHURN: EAT, WEAR AND INVEST

jim lin 110314Jim Lin, owner of Oriental Empire, said customers of his Ocean Township restaurant urged him to open one in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508In this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn, we’ve got details on these recent developments in ever-churning downtown Red Bank:

• Oriental Empire, a restaurant offering a mix of Asian cuisines, opened last month at 54 English Plaza.

• A former sales associate at the recently departed Nirvana is opening her own women’s clothing store on Broad Street.

• A restaurant called Hansel & Griddle plans to open on West Front Street.

• A nail salon changes hands and rebrands.

• The space formerly occupied by office supply retailer Staples is turning into office space for a securities brokerage.

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RED BANK: SUSHI PLACE TAKES PRIMO CORNER

80 broad 092713The large space formerly home to the Broadway Grille is to become Taka, a sushi restaurant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Amid a proliferation of new restaurants, downtown Red Bank is taking on a decidedly Asian flavor.

Two weeks ago, Oriental Empire opened at 54 English Plaza, joining five other purveyors of Asian cuisine in the heart of town – most of them of recent vintage.

Now, a sushi restaurant has signed a lease at the high-profile corner of Broad and Monmouth streets., in the former home of the Broadway Grille.

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RED BANK: THE HEAT IS ON AT TEMPLE

temple spring roll1Hot, crunchy, spring rolls at Temple Gourmet. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels smallSerious crunch found at dinner this week.

Temple Gourmet Chinese in Red Bank makes terrific spring rolls that are vegetarian friendly.

Dragging the spring roll through a bit of duck sauce and then dipping it into the mustard sauce, my daughter (a vegetarian) and I were surprised by the flavorful but strong mustard.

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