Location: 935 Franklin Ave. Garden City, NY 11530
Description: The latest and sharpest in a wavelet of Japanese restaurants cresting on Long Island, Kaji ... More »
Kaji Sushi & Lounge is carving a niche in Garden City with a sushi knife.
It's the latest and sharpest in a wavelet of Japanese restaurants cresting on Long Island. And it's very good.
That style applies to the sleek, modern design of the compact establishment, where colorful tile vies with dark, gray-brown tones and a striking sand-sea design behind the busy sushi bar. Kaji also is artful in its presentation of kaleidoscopic sushi rolls, whether the harmonious variety or the over-the-top combos.
The "Giants roll" definitely defines the latter, with a surf-turf union that includes grilled lobster tail, seared filet mignon, sliced avocado and, in case you haven't taken notice, fresh wasabi, too. Maybe that's what the football team was missing this season.
In the same genre, but more flavorful, is the multi-fish "out of control roll," which, in its defiance of restraint, brings together yellowtail, tuna, salmon, avocado and asparagus capped with seared renditions of the three fish, plus spicy mayo, eel sauce and crisp rice.
Kaji is equally at ease with traditional sushi and sashimi. Sample the fatty tuna, fluke, mackerel, red snapper and, if available, live scallop, sea urchin, sweet shrimp and baby yellowtail.
Post-sushi, consider an opener such as the tuna "pizza" starring tuna, jalapeño, onion and crab; the sushi "sandwich" featuring spicy tuna and lobster salad; either tuna or salmon tartare; a few Kumamoto oysters.
The cooked appetizers are led by zesty, crisp spicy tuna gyoza, or fried dumplings, set on house-made guacamole and finished with chili sauce; and a trio of diverting, savory duck spring rolls that looks like cannoli and tastes like crunchy Beijing duck wraps.
They're preferable to the bland blue-crab fajita, a series of pasty, stuffed wedges; the limp, filigree-free tempura of shrimp and vegetables; and sauteed cubes of filet mignon in what's billed as a Cajun sauce, wherein East doesn't meet West.
The choices improve with deftly lacquered salmon teriyaki; and sesame seed- crusted tuna steak, with a distant relative of risotto, and soy-lime sauce. Grilled "golden duck" is gilded by avocado and seafood sauce. Competition: grilled rack of lamb and filet mignon teppanyaki, neatly grilled.
If you're inclined, dip a spoon into the coppa pistachio. But Kaji's niche generally isn't big enough to use a scoop.