Komegashi and Komegashi too
In Jersey City, Johnny Leung has carved his niche in the dining scene with two restaurants: Komegashi on Montgomery Street and Komegashi too on Pavonia Avenue in the Newport Financial Center. The former specializes in traditional Japanese cuisine, and the latter serves nouveau fusion cuisine featuring a combination of Japanese, Korean and more.
Leung also operates a third location at 928 Broadway in New York City, serving "reconstruction" cuisine, a method of cooking that uses French preparation techniques.
"I've lived in Jersey City for 20 years," Leung said. "I worked in Japanese restaurants and I saw what was done wrong. Many came and went. I knew I could do better." Leung backs up his claim by noting that 80 percent of his customers are repeat diners.
"It's convenient," said Jamie Ladd, a New York City resident who works at the Financial Center and was dining at Komegashi too. "The lunch specials are good, and both the curry rice and sushi are great. I also enjoy sitting on the water and looking at the boats and skyline."
Stephen Clarke of Fanwood, who occasionally walks over from his office on Washington Boulevard, agreed. "This is certainly a change of pace, and the view is nice," Clarke said. "It's different. The specials at lunch are very reasonable."
"Fresh" is a key word at Komegashi. "If you like what you do, you do it right," said Leung. "Carol [Hu, general manager at the Pavonia Avenue and New York City locations] and I like food; we like to eat. We often eat here as well, so we get to know the folks who come here. And we know they like their food fresh. Sushi must be, and so must the seafood. And also, Japanese food isn't fried as much, so it's healthier."
Speaking of food, a great way to start your meal as you gaze over the water is the BBQ Tatsutaage - fried chicken wings sautéed with sweet and spicy BBQ sauce - or a beef Negamaki appetizer. Also recommended are the fried shrimp ravioli and the surf & turf sirloin & shrimp, a tasty combination of sirloin and shrimp with house sauce on side.
A wine menu and bar is available to complement the fine food creations of Executive Chef Tom Kurokawa and Sous Chef Dennis Kim. Occasional wine tastings always sell out quickly.
For more information on both restaurants, visit www.komegashi.com. Komegashi Japanese Restaurant is located at 103 Montgomery St. in Jersey City. Call (201) 433-4567 for reservations. Komegashi too Japanese Cuisine is located at 99 Pavonia Ave. in Jersey City. Call (201) 533-8888 for reservations.
Monster Sushi & Steak
Alan Luftig, a commercial photographer, proves that you don't have to be of Japanese descent to own a Japanese restaurant. Along with partners Carl Waltzer and On Le, Luftig proudly runs Monster Sushi & Steak on Springfield Avenue in Summit. The Summit restaurant is just one of four in the metropolitan area. The others are located in New York City, in the West Village, Midtown, and Chelsea.
"I'd been friends with my partners for years," Luftig said. "As a matter of fact, I was one of On Le's customers at another Monster Sushi location in the city."
Luftig said that even though Summit already featured a variety of restaurants, and competition for customers was fierce, he knew that Summit would be a great location.
"I knew about the town, and I believed Monster Sushi would do well here," he said. "The town knows good dining."
With friendly, efficient service and big portions of fresh, quality food at reasonable prices in a modern setting, Monster Sushi is located in a 120-year-old former YMCA building, and the restaurant has become a haven for diners looking for something different.
"I liken our growth here to Secretariat," said Luftig, referring to the 1973 Triple Crown-winning thoroughbred. "We started out and continued to grow, and got better and more and more popular."
Great food has plenty to do with Monster Sushi's popularity. Favorite appetizers include the tuna tartare and succulent bacon and shrimp wrap. As for entrees, chicken teriyaki and the mixed seafood grill leave the kitchen rapidly and regularly during the evening. The Monster Roll, composed of eel, shrimp, avocado, asparagus, mushroom, flying fish roe and spinach, is a favorite, but the Dinosaur and Godzilla rolls are fabulous as well. Steak lovers will enjoy either the grilled sirloin or filet mignon.
Monster Sushi & Steak is suitable for "baby monsters," too. A children's menu is highlighted by Baby Monster Nuggets, chicken fingers (Tempura) and Baby Udon (noodles, chicken and broth).
Bring your favorite bottle of wine, beer or sake to enjoy with your meal.
Monster Sushi & Steak is located at 395 Springfield Ave. in Summit. Call (908) 598-1100 for reservations, or visit www.monstersushi.com.
Ed Chen is no stranger to the New Jersey restaurant scene. Chen has owned a restaurant on Route 46 in Fairfield since 1986. Originally named Osaka, he bought out his Osaka partners in January of 2002 and changed the name to Takara. Chen also recently sold his shares of a restaurant in Whippany so he could focus on Takara.
"Takara" is Japanese for "treasure," and Chen has created a dining experience that is to be savored. Residents and workers in local business parks frequent the establishment on one of New Jersey's busiest roadways to enjoy a varied lunch and dinner menu of freshly prepared delights.
When it comes to appetizers, Baby Tako (octopus) and Ika Tempura (deep fried calamari) are featured, while the Summer Roll, consisting of shrimp, kani, avocado, cucumber and rice noodles, is a fine "special roll" selection. For a special treat, shark tempura has a contrast of flavor and texture that satisfies many. There are also plenty of sushi, sashimi, tempuras and traditional teriyakis to choose from.
Visiting the refined Takara is an experience in comfort, elegance and warmth.
Takara Japanese Restaurant is located at 4 Fairfield Rd. in Fairfield, entrance on Route 46E, next to the Hampton Inn. Call (973) 227-6789 for reservations, or visit www.takarasushi46.com.