Getting decent sushi in Middletown has been a fairly easy thing for us. As I was growing up, we were regulars at the now defunct Hana Restaurant, which, ironically, was owned by my tang soo do instructor, on route 211. That’s the first place I tasted the ebi (shrimp) sushi, which got me into sushi. More recently, Blue Finn Grill opened up on the other side of town on Dolson Avenue, and we’ve shared many great meals there.
Mr. Sushi & Grill is a new restaurant on the 211 side of Middletown that I recently got a chance to visit during a recent trip to see my parents.
The restaurant is located at 400 Route 211 East, in the plaza containing Big Lots which used to contain one of the areas annoying Shoprite stores. There’s also a Boston Market in the plaza. I honestly can’t remember any other restaurants in this plaza with the exception of New King Buffet, which I’m almost positive used to be where Mr. Sushi currently resides.
My parents tried Mr. Sushi recently, and they thought it would be a great place to take us (us being Cassie, I, Dom, and his fiance) to celebrate my dad’s birthday. The restaurant has only one large table that isn’t a hibachi table, and it didn’t look too comfortable, so we opted to sit at the sushi bar.
The menu is expansive, so I focused on a handful of their special sushi rolls and narrow that down to three that I wanted to try.
I opted for the Angry Dragon, the Final Fantasy (with brown rice), and the Mr. Sushi; each was $14 or $15. As we always do, we had a bunch of appetizers for everyone to share.
From the looks of the appetizers, I was in for a treat with my sushi. The beef negimaki was perfectly tender and smothered in sweet sauce. The gyoza were soft and delicious, and the fried prawns, wrapped in something akin to filo nest, were crunchy and delicious; the jarred duck sauce served with these left much to be desired, but the prawns themselves were great.
I don’t know why, but I wanted a ginger salad. It was the standard white part of the iceberg with a ginger dressing.
We laughed and chatted while we waited for our sushi. There were four or five guys behind the bar preparing sushi for the whole restaurant, so the wait wasn’t long at all considering most of us ordered sushi. My dad also got to speak with the head sushi chef, who seemed to be familiar with him, and got him to agree to go crazy for a roll for him to eat.
Each roll deserves its own explanation.
The angry dragon roll was spicy and delicious. On paper, its described as “Shrimp tempura, mango, spicy tuna inside w. spicy king crab on top w. ruta sauce.” There was a huge contrast of textures: lots of crunch, lots of soft. I was a big fan of the relatively high level of spice inside and on top, and the fish was all great. This ruta sauce was something I’ve never heard of. My understanding is that it’s grapefruit based. It was tangy, sweet, and complex. I honestly couldn’t believe how well it complimented this roll. Awesome!
The Final Fantasy roll consisted of “spicy wild salmon, baby yellowtail, asparagus, w. madai and caviar.” I liked this roll on paper for two reasons: (1) the name, and (2) I was intrigued to try just about everything in it. The crunch and sweetness of the asparagus helped me enjoy this. The fish are all pretty powerful tasting fish, so the sauce and various caviars atop the roll really made the roll. The sauce may have been a little too sweet, but it was very good. I wanted to taste the brown sushi rice here, and it was pretty good. Brown rice is normally more toothsome than white rice, so there was additional texture there. It’s important to note that these two rolls were cut into 10 pieces.
The Mr. Sushi Roll, “Ahi Tuna, Eel, avocado, and spicy tuna,” was the most outstanding of what I ordered. For one thing, the “roll” is served rectangular. When I watched them prepare it, I noticed them sprinkle these flakes over the top; I had to confirm that the flakes were bonito flakes. I had never had sushi with bonito flakes on top; they add a musty, fishy, salty essence to each bite. By the time the bonito flakes hit your tongue, they dissolve. The crunch of the puffed rice was a fun textural counterpoint to the sushi rice. The tuna they used looked ridiculously fresh and tasted great. I complimented the chef and mentioned that this roll should be highlighted as their signature roll. Hey, it’s named after the restaurant after all.
Dad let me try a piece of the crazy roll they made for him.
It was clearly filled with fresh fish and topped with another fish, but the chef explained that the topping was what was special about this. It was a mixture of fish and avocado bound together with uni roe. It was fresh, creamy, and delicious. There are no words to describe it past this point.
Dom motioned over to the chef that it was dad’s birthday, so they brought him out a complimentary dessert of tempura ice cream and bananas. We all shared it because we had a Baskin Robins ice cream cake at home waiting for us.
But back to Mr. Sushi, this place is great. They’re innovative and dedicated to fresh and delicious fish. It’s rare that I come across a place that is able to teach me so much about something I’m so familiar with in one meal, so I really enjoyed it.