With the new semester unfolding and taking a large part of my daily routines, I haven’t had many opportunities to go restaurant hunting for reviews. Nonetheless, thanks to Rosh Hashanah last week, I was able to take a break from campus life and head to the city for some alone time – essentially some time for me to wind down with great food. I walked into a Japanese restaurant on 23rd street, called Monster Sushi, which many of my friends frequently visit. According to my group of friends, Monster Sushi was one of the best sushi restaurants in the city at an affordable price, and I just had to check the place out for myself.
Monster Sushi has a chic modern interior while maintaining the air of a traditional Japanese restaurant: the furniture had a modern flair, whereas the décor, the accessories, and the sushi bar exuded the Japanese culture. I was immediately seated at one of the tables and the waiter kindly explained the menu to me. Like most Japanese restaurants, Monster Sushi has a wide variety of sushi rolls. What I found to be unique about Monster Sushi was their bento box specials. Bento box can literally be translated as “lunch box” and comes with a variety of side dishes that accompany a main dish. Monster Sushi has an extensive list of main dishes for their bento boxes aside from simply sticking with the commonly found chicken or salmon teriyaki boxes. I ordered the Chilean sea bass bento box, which came broiled with a special light soy sauce. Each bento box comes with soup, salad, rice, a choice of spring roll or shumai (Japanese steamed dumplings), and a choice of California, tuna, or salmon roll.
I was first served the miso soup as a part of the bento box special. The miso soup was light, yet flavorful with the rich taste of the miso; a very traditional starter for a bento meal. Shortly after finishing the miso soup, the waiter served me the Chilean sea bass bento box. I was fairly impressed with the size of the bento box and how packed it was with food. The overall presentation of the box looked great and after tasting the dish, I was even more impressed with all of the flavor combinations. The Chilean sea bass was crisply seared on the outside, then broiled with a light soy sauce that seeped into the layers of the fish. The sauce consisted of soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar to add onto the light flavor to maintain the freshness of the fish. Along with the Chilean sea bass, I enjoyed all of the accompaniments to the bento box. The spring rolls that I had ordered instead of the shumai were crispy, packed with vegetable and shrimp filling, seasoned perfectly so that there was no need for a dipping sauce. The salad was also extremely fresh, topped with a light ginger dressing that was just sweet enough to entice my taste buds. To top this all off, the salmon roll that I chose consisted of fresh salmon pieces wrapped in white rice and seaweed, and these salmon rolls were larger in size compared to those from other Japanese restaurants I have frequented.
Apart from the bento box, I had also ordered the Godzilla roll, one of Monster Sushi’s specialty rolls. The Godzilla roll consisted of spicy tuna with avocado and flying fish roe on the outside. I had heard that this roll was one of the most popular rolls in Monster Sushi and after having tasted it, I had a clear understanding as to why this was so. The Godzilla roll had the right amount of spiciness in the spicy tuna that blended well with the freshness of the tuna itself. Everything about this roll was perfection: the ratio of rice to fish and having all of the rich flavors within the roll all the while maintaining a light, fresh flavor.
Monster Sushi far exceeded my expectations of the typical Japanese restaurant. I absolutely loved the bento box; especially, because of the fact that I was able to have so many different dishes within one order. Although Monster Sushi is slightly more expensive than other Japanese restaurants, it is definitely worth the price considering the sizes of their rolls and the amount of food they give per entrée. My experience at Monster Sushi was wonderfully delicious and I would highly recommend this place to people who are hunting for some great Japanese cuisine without having to travel too far.