Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let Me Be Your Sushi Roll

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.

Mon Jin Lau.

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.

Phone: 248.689.2332.


  1. This is easily one of my favorites of yours. :) Absolute genius. :)

    My girls love sushi here. We worship at the sushi-temple that is Kubo's . ;) My girl's favorite? tempura. Octopus. :) Tako - carpaccio. Set in perfect rows on a square plate with a sweet mango-lime sauce drizzed over.

    I am damn proud of my daughters :)

  2. go ahead - i dare you to enter that in ANY online restaurant review site.

  3. i had sushi today... and it was good. but no where near that good.

    now i feel like i just wasted my time.

  4. Hi Mandy,
    As I read I taste, I want more;
    how do you make a meal taste so good and all is ingested from
    your words.
    Thank you for good.

  5. Yay! Thanks for the (re) this was one of my favorite and my favorite still. I felt really bad when I couldn't read your old post when you deleted your myspace account.

  6. you make me want to eat sushi and I don't even like the stuff

  7. I agree, one of the best restaurants (Hour magazine 2008 award for Best Restaurant of the year) and I'm not a big sushi eater. But this review makes me want to go to Mon Jin Lau have some. You made my mouth water and it's after 5am. I love, love, tempura, and used to get off on Sweet Lorraine's Tempura Veggies. I haven't been there in ages so I have no idea if they still feature that on their menu. But now I want some. Dumplings, I want Mon Jin Lau dumplings.

    *sigh it's been a while since I properly dined out. Looking forward to the day.

    My son's friends started Sneaky Sunday review site online. They could use a review like this.


  8. Good gawd, I heart sushi. There's a place on Mound that's amazing and a little closer to me but I am so going to go the distance and sample your heaven.

  9. @Megan: That's how I felt about dating after The Boyfriend and I broke up.

  10. I bleed sushi. Seriously.


  11. and now you're back to the good stuff... both in The Boyfriend and The Sushi!

    huzzah for small miracles.

  12. Dang. Wish I'd known that last time I was in Detroit. I'd walk five bazillion miles for good sushi.

  13. Sushi-Hole!!!!! Brilliant!

    I will be in Holly for the next 2 week and will def make it there! We usually go to Royale Oak for sush.

  14. If there was any doubt that it's your destiny to freelance, this puts that to rest. I am snorting and cajorkling and honking away.

    I love spider roll ~ yes, with the legs sticking up akimbo just like me after a longnight with Mr. Stoli. California roll is for pussies. Just sayin'...

  15. This post made me laugh out loud and then want to get on a plane and go to this restaurant!

  16. I've loved chopsticks since I was a child too. Of course I love sushi... Love, love, love it. Perhaps it was this love that made me not try bento boxes until maybe three or four years ago. I LOVE bento boxes! Everything in it's own tiny compartment! You can have different sauce on each item with no cross-contamination.

  17. Does sushi make your breath stink?
    Is it possible to be too southern for sushi?

  18. I can't believe you just ripped me for having sushi the other night. You should do a shot of your wasabi-soy for that, yellowtail.

  19. I almost started walking there...

    I got around the block and realized.

    You are in Michigan, and I am here. So I went to our local Publix grocery store and purchased some sushi. It was decidedly ANTI orgasmic, but I did have fun making wasabi-soy pudding. Yummy!

    I love the way you write, you infuse such delicious humor into everything you write. I love it. And if I am ever in Michigan, I am going to that restaurant. Because you have good taste, and their prices are not bad at all. And I ADORE sushi. Mmmmmm.....

  20. There's no denying a love for Sushi...

    And in Orlando, we've got some MIGHTY fine places. There's a few local ones too, one especially that has a cheap sushi happy hour :D

  21. Nice Peace of Buddha: I do like Ronin in Royal Oak.

  22. ~ 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. Wow, that gets an ewww even from me. This has GOT to be the pre-OCD/Windex years.

    ~ When you go with the flow write about the things that make you wet, it is an incredible thrill ride for the senses. (and I can't stand up for like 10 minutes afterwards). GREAT BLOG!!!

  23. Oh! So I hear that you love sushi as much as you love MEeee?


    I absolutely love sushi and this post made me want to have it right now!

    *stomp foot*

    Tempura! Oh! this stuff is so good.


    Go ahead, sent this review and the chef will love you for ever and maybe give you free sushi for eternity!

    Gawd! You are funny! :)

  24. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh you're talking about sushi and my friends are going to Zen tonight and I want frikken sushi damn damn damn. *stomps off to corner to pout*
    and no, that's not a painting at the end, but a full glass wall overlooking palm trees and the ocean. *sigh*


  25. Hey lady. I just started on here a few weeks ago. YAY!
    Now I know someone.
    Steve (from myspace)

  26. "verklempt-san" and "forehead good" might be my new favorite phrases.

  27. Ronin is good, Mon Jin Lau is good, but hands down, the new (as of two weeks ago) sushi chef at Dylans in Grosse Pointe Park blows all of them away. Lizz and I just stared at each other in reverent silence with each bite. He makes an astonishing roll he just calls "Crunchy Tuna." It's crab, wrapped in tuna and avacado, wrapped in tempura nori, basted with an indescribable spicy sauce. Heaven.

  28. Chopsticks are great for picking up individual items from a mixed plate, but not so good for scooping. I prefer to eat my food with a funnel.

    Sex Mahoney for President

  29. sushi is a sexy food and you sexed it up good.