This casual spot is recommended for uncomplicated Japanese dishes and for sushi. You'll find earnest ... More »
Kimi retools the bar code of suburban Japanese restaurants.
Not that this little establishment has become a local fugu palace or upped the price to $500 a head. It does skillfully prepare most of the familiar stuff. But the kitchen shows some flair.
If all this doesn't send you into the realms of rapture and swoon, the food is consistently good. You'd like to have Kimi in your neighborhood. It's definitely one of the highlights of dining out in Port Jefferson.
Blond wood and beer-company sushi charts make their obligatory appearances here. The lanterns advertise Ozeki Sake. Cans of green tea decorate the tabletops. Specials are listed on a board outside and behind the sushi bar.
And Kimi comes up with a delectable, aromatic appetizer of seafood-stuffed eggplant, and an invigorating, shrimp hot-sour soup that allows you to forget every prescription version gone by.
The fanned-out sashimi of fluke has rare delicacy and uncommonly artful presentation. So do the crisp and moist lobster tempura and the mellow salmon teriyaki. Kimi's rich tuna tartare combines textures velvety and crunchy, with rosy fish and condiments. These are old themes given new resonance, presented with panache.
Even the house's basic miso soup has more flavor than most, and the clear soup with mushrooms is fragrant and satisfying. Sample them with an order of edamame, the tender young soybeans. Continue the healthful sequence with age tofu, or fried bean curd, which is light and has a neat gilding.
You're back to the routine with chewy negimaki, or beef rolled around scallion. Likewise, the beef kushiyaki, or beef on skewers. And tatsuta age, or deep-fried chicken, blends in with a lot of others you've encountered.
But Kimi does especially well with steamed shrimp dumplings, or shumai, and with the modestly filigreed tempura of vegetables and shrimp.
Broiled squid with ginger sauce is preferable to the fundamental fried calamari. Fried soft-shell crab has the right bite and some sweetness. Chicken yakitori is a dependable skewering.
Kimi really jump-starts your meal with entertaining, special sushi rolls. The "Port Jeff roll" brings together cooked eel and spicy tuna for a diverting combo. Add avocado, and you've got the highlights of the house's namesake roll.
The "winter roll" warms up with shrimp tempura and spicy tuna. The "Bob roll" is a union of avocado, asparagus, cucumber and yellowtail. The adventurous "Marco maki" explores a territory populated with a deep-fried roll of fresh salmon, scallions and cream cheese. This combo is capped with spicy tuna and yellowtail. Purists will faint on the spot. But it's flavorful and fun.
The spicy yellowtail roll gives off a spark, as does its fired-up tuna counterpart. The New York roll translates into a color-coordinated pairing of raw salmon and apple. The Boston roll, with shrimp, lettuce and mayo, and the Philadelphia, with salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, are best left alone.
For nigirizushi, or uncooked fish on ovals of vinegared rice, sample fatty tuna, white tuna, mackerel and fluke.
The hot-pot entrees of sukiyaki and yosenabe are all right. Sukiyaki has the expected sweetness and plenty of noodles. It's offered with either beef or chicken. Yosenabe, described in near-hallucinatory fashion as "Japanese bouillabaisse," does contain ample seafood in the well-seasoned broth.
Udon dishes are deservedly popular. The fat, white noodles peak when accented with shrimp-and-vegetable tempura. Also tasty: a saute of assorted seafood and vegetables.
The frying continues with dessert. The leading choices are fried banana and fried ice cream, minor efforts that make you nostalgic for fresh fruit and green tea. Mochi ice cream, discs wrapped in rice dough, is an alternative.
With or without dessert, you'll leave content -- and thinking about what takeout to order, too. Try something new.