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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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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