As our regular readers know, all the members of Jimi’s big family Â even the littlest ones Â are BIG FANS of sushi. So when three different people told us to get ourselves to Kanji, all within the same week, we didn’t need any more prompting.
Actually, we ended up being very ticked off at ourselves – not just for waiting as long as we did, but for getting scooped by Andrea Clurfield of the Asbury Park Press, who called KANJI the altar of sushi heaven and by the Star Ledger’s Brooke Tarabour, who reported on the most dazzling sushi I’ve found in New Jersey.
In any event, we’re telling you essentially the same thing: Get yourselves to KANJI ASAP Â and get there early, since the place is really jumping.
Master Chef Roger Yang, formerly of Sawa – aka Monmouth County’s premier sushi chef – has indeed created a veritable temple of sushi. The moment you step inside, you’re impressed by the authentically Japanese Â and very soothing look and feel of the restaurant Â but with an added, modernist kind of buzz that’s contributed in part by the cool dcor, and in part by the cool looking but quite eclectic crowd. And the big Sushi bar, with its big, bold red KANJI logo that dominates the far end of the main room, does look like the high altar of sushi. And Â most important of all to know Â the Sushi really IS divine.
As we always do, we started out with the Chef’s special sashimi selection for the day. This, of course, is the acid test of any Sushi restaurant and a test that Kanji passed with highest honors. Beautiful and very generous slices of buttery salmon, Ahi tuna and red snapper were the features that day. In fact, the fish was so good it made both the wasabi – and the soy sauce – mostly superfluous, which is what sashimi is supposed to do, but rarely does.
Next came another special of the day Â a fusion dish of scallops and crabmeat, broiled in Japanese mayonnaise. Incredibly good and something we hope they’ll add to the every day menu. Then came another cooked fusion item Â partly because we were intrigued, and partly because one of our diners was expecting Â and thus, temporarily sworn off the raw fish; battered rock shrimp, served in a little pool of a rich and delicious and slightly sweet sauce. Both dishes set off an immediate and fast-paced duel of chopsticks at our table.
As to the parade of Sushi rolls we ordered next, we were truly in Sushi Heaven. Among our favorites from the Signature K side of the menu were Tuna Amazing – white tuna tempura (based on a fish that neither we, nor our server could identify by its true name – and that, we’re sure, was not true tuna – but which was wonderfully good), plus spicy tuna, avocado topped with pepper tuna and drizzled with a mango sauce and roe; a special Â Four in Love Roll (shrimp tempura, spicy white tuna, avocado, asparagus and fish roe, rolled in white nori), a Crazy Friday roll, since it was Friday and the Tuna Lovers special from the fusion side of the Sushi menu.
Needless to say, we are already planning our next three trips to Kanji Â the first, to have more sushi and sashimi; the second to zero-in mostly on the fusion dishes, and the third to commandeer one of their ten hibachi tables for a full-family feast, where the chefs put on a show that totally awed the one grandchild that was in attendance on our last visit and us too.
Kanji Hibachi & Sushi A&P Tinton Falls Plaza, Route 35 Â Tinton Falls Â 732.544.1600
Visit www.kanjisteakhouse.com for menus, hours, directions and more.