Philosophers of language and assorted punsters may groan over Wansuapona Musu, the heir to Once Upon a Moose. But anyone with an appetite for sushi will rejoice.
Musu, for short, looks as if it has been imported to the suburbs from an imaginary SoHo, equal parts cozy and exotic. The stylishly distressed look suggests a buying spree at Urban Archaeology; the sushi bar, an expatriate arriving from another downtown.
Melisa and Alan Geller own the place. But the cuisine is defined by Roy Kurniawan. Diners will remember him as the creative force behind the departed Sea Cliff Sushi Co. and Bennett's Sushi Lounge in Locust Valley.
He offers some fine cooked fare, especially the spicy miso ramen, a head-clearing bowl of wheat noodles, corn, spinach, bamboo, scallion and soy egg in a chile-red broth that floats inch-long cuts of savory pork belly; and the Nobu staple, miso-marinated black cod, here accented with ginger.
The fun continues with a Peruvian edge in fluke tiradito, a spin on seviche with a zesty, peppery aji amarillo sauce, garlic chips, cilantro and shallots. Dinner turns even more eclectic with Asian guacamole, finished with ginger and peanuts, served with shards of fried plantain.
Traditionalists shouldn't be deterred. The kitchen sends out respectable steamed shrimp shumai and seared pork gyoza for dumpling devotees. Seaweed salad has crunch. There's a sizable a la carte sushi and sashimi selection, whether you need tuna, salmon or yellowtail; the California, Philadelphia or Alaska rolls.
But it gets more interesting when Kurniawan comes up with his phish sandwich, or triangles that bring together spicy tuna, avocado, bonito flakes, red tobiko roe and soy sheets; and love of my life, an offbeat union of sun-dried tomato, avocado, cucumber relish and spicy, crunchy salmon wrapped with mango.
They sound overorchestrated in the extreme, but they taste pretty good.
That also goes for stairway to heaven, which does have a heavy-metal, Led Zeppelin combo of eel, smoked salmon, peppered tuna, cream cheese, avocado and daikon sprouts. To revel in it requires, well, a whole lotta love. Eel tempura and spicy tuna signal the sticky fingers roll, enough to awaken your inner Jagger. But to call a deep-fried California roll with crab salad "Imagine" overdoes the irreverence.
Besides, they really should have at least one dish named for Rocky and Bullwinkle.