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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? SUSHI DELIGHTS

072616sakura3A specialty at Sakura Sushi is the Floating Island appetizer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In what might be the tiniest sushi bar on the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds a lively, amusing, and loyal customer base.

And at Sakura Sushi, located in in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, it’s easy to strike up conversation with fellow diners, with just four sushi bar seats and four small tables occupying the diminutive space.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GRAB ‘N GO VARIETY

022416foodtownwfl1While another customer ladled hot soup into a container, below, PieHole opted for a rainbow roll all packed up and ready to go at SuperFoodtown. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

022416foodtownwfl2You need a cheap lunch, and time is limited. For many residents and worker bees on the Greater Green, Red Bank’s Foodtown supermarket is a veritable oasis of grab n’ go options.

Open since 1977, the store, at Broad Street and Maple Avenue, added a new-to-the-area salad bar as part of a renovation in 1996. Several other quick-lunch features have been added over the years, expanding the range of choices.
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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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SHREWSBURY: LUNCH IN A BENTO BOX

072815fuji4The Bento Box lunch special at Fuji in Shrewsbury. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

072815fuji2Our hearts skipped a beat five years ago when Trader Joe’s announced it would open a store in what was then called the Treasure Island Mall in Shrewsbury: we thought we’d never again see the inviting teak interior of Fuji.

This was before the Greater Red Bank Green caught up to the public appetite for sushi and became fairly saturated with Japanese, Asian and fusion-style restaurants. Fuji was one one of the few, and among the better. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s simply bumped the restaurant out of its spot  in the Route 35 shopping center – and into one with a lighter, more organic decor. And the restaurant is as busy as ever, owner Jenny Chen-Ng tells PieHole.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? PIZZA AT DANNY’S

061115dannys4Danny’s has been using the same tomato sauce recipe since 1969 on its pizza. Sidewalk seating is available, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061115dannys3Danny Murphy had his hands in the restaurant business long before the current incarnation of Danny’s Steak House on Red Bank’s West Side.

Murphy’s mother owned a place called the Friendly Luncheonette on West Front Street, where he worked in the 1950’s. In his teens, he learned pizza-making a few doors away, at Brother’s Restaurant. He opened his own restaurant around the corner, on Bridge Avenue, in 1969, starting with Italian dishes, and later adding steak and fish to the menu.

It’s his pizza, though, that PieHole remembers first eating 23 years ago. Read More »

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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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SUSHI AT SANSU

IMG_0044The shrimp tempura roll was a standout, but the new-to-us peanut avocado roll (right) was missing a note at the sushi counter. Or is it a bar? (Photos by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

IMG_0039PieHole and frequent lunch companion Brian McCourt rolled down River Road into Fair Haven to give Sansu Japanese Steakhouse a try for lunch. At 12:45, there was plenty of parking in the adjacent lot.

Last week, we singled out Edie’s Luncheonette in Little Silver because it had a lunch counter, one of the few in the area. McCourt took umbrage at my reference to the sushi bar as a counter and insisted it’s a bar, not a counter. In any case, that’s where we sat and ordered up some green teas while perusing the menu.

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