“You can’t write about this place,” says my husband. “It has the worst name for a sushi joint.”
Obviously, I don’t agree.
It’s called John’s Sushi Bistro. Five months ago it opened on 132 Front Street East, kitty corner to the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People.
John Moon is a sushi master, standing prim and proper as he awaits orders. He wears a v-necked, sushi-making kimono over his shirt and tie. A name tag is pinned to his chest. But it’s his hat that sets the tone. He could double for an air cadet.
It’s a small, little resto – no more than half a dozen booths and a few, free standing tables. The focus is the sushi bar, where John Moon and his apprentice stand behind spotless glass cases of Saran-wrapped fish: salmon, yellow tail tuna, shrimp, crab, tilapia, smoked eel, scallop, squid, octopus, salmon roe and sea urchin. Meticulous and organized … hey, you want a clean freak in a sushi bar.
As John Moon puts the finishing touches on a Green Dragon Roll ($9.95) destined for another customer, I toss my menu aside and point out my order. This roll glistens in green, snaking from one end of a white platter to the other. In the epicenter is a straight strand of crisp shrimp tempura, nestled alongside cucumber matchsticks, fish roe and an absolutely amazing blanket of finely carved avocado. Each section of avocado interlocks into the next, like the shells of a lobster tail. How’s he do that?
Don orders a generous appetizer portion of shrimp tempura ($7.95). It’s a balancing act of four straight shrimp arranged tee-pee style. A large onion ring caps off the pyramid with some sweet potato and broccoli nearby. The batter is light and crisp but needs some oomph in the seasoning department.
Spring rolls are for Krystal. They’re vegetarian and mediocre: too greasy and flat. But her premium, nine-piece “Spider Roll” satisfies with deep-fried soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber and fish roe.
John’s Sushi Bistro offers a la carte sashimi and rolls, dinner and sushi sets (like chirasi with 15 pieces of assorted fish over sushi rice), 20 different house specials rolls (love the names: Las Vegas Roll, Crispy Crunch or White Christmas Roll), standard teriyaki, gyoza (Japanese pot stickers), salads, soups… the list goes on. Value for your money can be found at John’s where all meals begin with a bowl of “Crunch Noodle Soup” (menu-described as clear broth with thin noodles, vegetable and crunch flakes) and a cute little bowl of mango ice cream.
Turns out John Moon plied his sushi trade for 15 years in New York City before dumping the Big Apple and heading north. Our chatty server informed us that Mr. Moon is Korean. If I was a sushi snob, I might hold that against him. But I’d rather judge him by that glistening emerald dragon back, which is already calling me to go back.