Don’t let the relatively modest stature of one of Jersey City’s premiere sushi establishments, Honshu, fool you. Nestled next to Jersey City’s sky-scraping downtown office buildings in a petite four-story, freestanding row house, Honshu at 31 Montgomery St. is pleasantly out of place in its surroundings.
Even the most seasoned food snob would marvel at Honshu’s delectable sushi menu.
The attire is often business smart; manager Jason Chen said the three-and-a-half year old restaurant is bustling with businessmen during lunch hours. On a recent weekday night, the relaxed dining room served a handful of guests – and served them well.
The B.Y.O.B. establishment offers a number of mixes to conjure up a hearty drink – like a margarita, a Lychee breeze, or a strawberry mojito – as long as you provide the booze.
A sushi specialty
If customers weren’t impressed with the relaxed atmosphere – including window seating overlooking Greene Street – even the most seasoned food snob would marvel at Honshu’s delectable sushi menu.
One of the specialty appetizers, the spicy tuna tartar, was a lesson in sushi deconstructed. Instead of wrapping the tuna inside the roll, three large cones of spicy tuna topped with fish eggs were placed on a roll of rice and avocado wrapped in seaweed. The entire dish was then briefly cooked, giving the raw fish and the delicious sauce a warm and singed appearance. The dish is wonderfully appetizing and an innovative approach to a tried-and-true American food trend.
And no small detail at Honshu was overlooked. After the first course, chopstick holders were placed on the table to house the utensils in the interim between dishes. At this authentic Japanese restaurant there were no knives or forks in sight.
Contrary to the name, the Wasabi dumplings, made with tuna topped with fish eggs, weren’t dumplings at all, but Chen said that the dish is an exercise in textures.
“This dish is all about texture,” Chen said, standing in the dimly lit dining room. “The tuna is tenderized and so soft that it will melt in your mouth. But the eggs have a hard and crunchy feeling.”
And Chen was right. The incredibly delicate and flavorful tuna had been tenderized with mallets before being cooked and the fish eggs provided a crunchy kick, which was a welcome surprise.
But for those craving a deserving dish without culinary device, the shrimp Tempura was a capable dish served in a spicy mayonnaise sauce and had a bright and airy personality. With lemons served alongside the shrimp, the dish was light and flavorful.
Don’t forget the noodles
In addition to sushi, Honshu prides itself on authentic Japanese noodles with modern and delicious takes on traditional recipes.
The Taisho Ramen dish is a thin Ramen noodle in creamy broth topped with simmered duck breast and bamboo shoots, egg, scallion and seaweed, and is sure to please. Or the miso-flavored Sapporo Ramen, made with Ramen noodles in a rich pork broth is topped with shrimp, tofu, bamboo shoots, fish cakes, scallion and seaweed.
Honshu, 31 Montgomery St. in Jersey City, is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. Reservations are suggested for lunch with a group of four or more and can be placed on-line. For more information call (201) 324-2788 or visit www.honshulounge.com.
Sean Allocca can be reached at email@example.com