Hoboken has become a gourmand destination over the last decade. Restaurants move in and fill niches that have not been filled to capacity yet in this small mile-square city. What some don't realize is that in order to fill a niche adequately, you must be able to walk the walk, not just decorate the dining room appropriately.
So if you're looking for a restaurant that can prepare terrific food, as well as satisfy your senses, I recommend the Sushi Lounge, on Hudson Street. It's a premiere spot for quality Japanese fare and a pleasurable atmosphere.
"We chose Hoboken because we thought it was a good opportunity," said Joe McCafferty, co-owner of the Sushi Lounge. "There were already four sushi restaurants in town, but we thought there was still a place that needed to be filled."
"I wanted a restaurant that I would want to hang out at or take a girl to," McCafferty said. "So we decided we would have the highest quality fish and the highest quality atmosphere. We wanted to go a little more upscale than the other sushi restaurants."
Sushi Lounge has been a success since it opened in December 2000. I stopped by on a Thursday night and almost every seat in the restaurant was filled with smiling stylish Hobokenites.
Sushi Lounge has experimented with nightly bar specials, but McCafferty concedes that the Lounge is a restaurant and they tend to concentrate more on its cuisine. That doesn't mean Sushi Lounge is not an exciting place. Once a week a Jazz vocalist and keyboardists fill the night with their sounds. They also have a rotation of five DJs, whose booth is discreetly located to the side of the sushi bar. They entertain patrons weekly with their house, trip-hop, dance and electronica music.
Although sushi is the name of the game at the Lounge, they also have plenty of kitchen specials. Hendra Yung, the executive sushi chef, who has been there since the beginning, has taken the sushi bar and made it his own. The sushi is magnificent and Yung is very personable and attentive.
"We are confident that the sushi is well-prepared so we have been concentrating on our kitchen for the last year," McCafferty said.
The Sushi Lounge has taken everything into consideration and only gives their customers quality.
Sake, miso, sake again
When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? So I had Asahi and Sapparo Reserve beer. The drink menu is large, including plenty of martinis, wine and sake.
I started with the appetizer Shumai ($5.75). Shumai is small Japanese dumplings. I tried the crab, although you can also order shrimp or wasabi Shumai. They were very good. They came with a spicy mayonnaise on the side. I loved the sauce. It had a bit of a tang to it.
I also tried the Beef Negimaki ($6.25). This consists of small slices of beef wrapped around scallions. Again the accompanying sauce was delicious. The Negimaki was a very filing appetizer; you might want to share.
I also tried the miso soup ($2.25, or included with entree). Sushi Lounge's miso soup is excellent. In fact, they mention that it is one of their specialties. It is a good sign when a restaurant really takes care of the foundations of their cuisine.
For an entrée I had the Paradise Plate ($19.95), which consisted of three pieces of tuna, salmon and yellowtail sushi, plus California rolls. I also tried some of the Sashimi on my friend's plate. He had ordered Sashimi Rock ($21.95), which included 18 pieces of various Sashimi. The extraordinarily fresh fish on both plates were sliced in large pieces and were filing.
I also thought the simple presentation of my plate added to the Japanese ambiance. I took my time with my meal and really savored the flavor. That's one thing the food at Sushi Lounge seems to encourage. Don't rush through your meal, it is meant to be enjoyed.
I had no room for desert, but I went for it anyway. I tried the chocolate fried ice cream. This is one of my favorite desserts. I really think it should be on the menu of every restaurant in town. But for the time being, I'll settle for going back to the Sushi Lounge for some more...and while I'm there I might as well have some more sushi.
At any rate, I'm going back to the Sushi Lounge and I suggest you check it out too.
Sushi Lounge is located at 200 Hudson St. in Hoboken. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday from 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 11:30 a.m. They deliver and cater private parties. For information call (201) 386-1117 or visit www.sushilounge.com. q