I don't normally do restaurant reviews, but I've decided to make an exception if the experience is multiply orgasmic. I'm telling you, by the end of the meal, I was fantasizing about taking off all of my clothes and rolling around on the sushi bar for the men in white hats.
It is my favorite restaurant, hands down. Tongue out. Stomach distended. And don't pronounce it Mon Jin Lau. Say it as if it were French: " Mo' Schzinn Lao." No, that isn't the way it's pronounced. But I love the restaurant almost as much as I love the French.
Mon Jin Lau is a swanky Pan-Asian restaurant and bar. It's pretty, it's sleek, it's cosmopolitan. It has its share of normal folks at tables, and the club freaks at the bar. Yes, lots of plastic surgery, slicked back hair and cologne lingering there, but get a table. You're going to need a lot of room.
Pinot Grigio to start. I love Pinot Grigio, but particularly with Asian food. Though I had an amazing cold saki (Pearl?) at the Bellagio when I was in Vegas. So good it made me want to bite something.
Enter: Scallion Pancakes.
Scallion Pancakes! They are like Chinese potato latkes. Oy! They are so good they make me verklempt-san. Moist potato pancakes with scallions, golden crispy on the outside, comfort food on the inside. Then: The sauce. Oh, it's a minxy sauce. It's soy with scallions in it, and if it were socially acceptable, I would throw that ramekin down my gullet like a red headed slut.
Yes, that good.
I smear the soy scallion mix over the scallion potato and I try not to grab it in my hands and shove it in my face. I try not to linger too long on the fantasy of grabbing the potato pancake in my fists and rubbing it all over my face, leaving a greasy, soy-covered film all over my cheekbones, nose, chin. Forehead even.
Yes, they are forehead good.
Commence ordering vast amounts of sushi.
What the hell is not to like about sushi? Have a mild case of OCD? This is your food, people! It's small, it's compact, it's neat. Need something to do with your hands when you're not shoving a cigarette or tropical orange Trident into your mouth by the packageful?
Oh, Chopstick joy! Sticky sticky chop chop! I've been a master of wielding the chopsticks since I was eight years old and my mother went on a tour of Asia. She brought me a vast chopstick collection: red lacquer chopsticks from China, sterling silver chopsticks from Korea, long white chopsticks from Japan, green chopsticks hand-painted with flowers from Hong Kong.
I did nothing but eat with chopsticks for the next three months.
I refused to do anything sans chopsticks. They became extensions of my already chopstick-like fingers. I'd move the Scrabble pieces with my chopsticks, I'd scratch my back with the chopsticks, I'd feed the dog kibble with my chopsticks. I'd jam the chopsticks in my dirty tomboy hair.
I can conduct orchestras, knit, type, tweeze, change diapers and play the violin with chopsticks. Those instruments were made for the OCD set. So with sushi, you've got the small, compact food, you've got the fancy sticks to preoccupy neurotic fingers, you've got the itsy-bitsy soy sauce dish.
I have dozens of those little dishes in my kitchen cabinets. I went to Japan and bought dozens of little dishes. Little sauce dishes. Tiny little service trays. I am obsessed with tiny, orderly things. I love the routine of pouring the soy sauce in the lilliputian dish. I like to hold my finger over one end of the soy sauce bottle, I like to tilt it tantalizingly over the dish rectangular, release my finger, and watch it pour, tiny stream, into a wee green dish.
Oh joy. Oh bliss.Now enter the:
Say it fast.
Say it fast and do a Bruce Lee kung-fu move. Wasabi! Did you feel the joy in your heart? Yes, I suspected as much.
I like to scoop a big slab of wasabi onto my chopstick, and then drop it in the pool of soy. Begin to stir gently. Let the wasabi slowly immerse itself into the soy. Let it begin to break down. Now stir it more briskly with the chopstick. Don't leave clumps. Clumps will make your nose run at an inopportune moment. Keep stirring. Keep stirring. Add more wasabi. It's not enough until your soy is thick and light brown.
Pick up the sushi with long, slender chopsticks. Dip sushi rolls into the wasabified soy sauce, in the koi pond green dish. Watch the soy soak into the white rice.
Commence cramming perfect rolls of sushi into your sushi-hole.
That's it. You shove the whole thing in your mouth. No messy bites to take, no dribbling down your chin, no losing bits of food to the floor. You can pop those little seaweed-wrapped suckers right into your mouth and chew.
California Roll. Ooooh, the west coast meets the East. The soft suprise of avocado!
New York Roll. Smoked salmon and cream cheese! Creamy, smoky goodness.
Tuna Roll. Don't fuck with tuna. Don't make it spicy. Don't mix it with some creamy pink sauce. Take it straight! It's tuna for god's sake! Fish of the gods! Don't sully perfection!
My girlfriend ordered some surprising sushi special. I usually avoid the "specials" because they often feature little creature's legs thrusting out of the roll, looking like they might grab your face. It freaks me out. Decidedly not for the OCD set. This special had some messy looking red fish on the outside of the sushi role (mildly panic-inducing) but in the center, in the warm center, it had a heart of tempura.
That hint of crunch. The surprising warmth. In your mouth. Gah! *Insert food orgasm here.*
Mon Jin Lau. You are my favorite restaurant. Last night I went to sleep, and dreamt dreams of my body, encased in seaweed paper, while you grabbed me with your chopsticks, and dipped me in wasabi joy.
Mon Jin Lau is located at 1515 E. Maple Road in Troy, Michigan. 48084.