When the chopsticks go into the linguine bathed in a decadent sauce of French butter and sweet miso cream, a possibility presents itself: This is a soy sauce pasta moment.
Luckily, there's a white porcelain vessel of soy right on the table at Mito in Lake Grove. Just give it a little pop, letting the salty black liquid pool over the creamy pasta with its jagged chunks of Parmesan cheese. Hit the scallops too, although they've already got a lot of flavor from their blackened crispy edges. And there it is, heaven. Or something close by, judging by the magnificent room that beams with golden walls, Buddha statues and shiny fabrics on the ceiling.
This is actually a repurposed P.F. Chang's. Mito has done a fine job with its remodel, imparting a chicness not often seen in such a vacuous mall space.
Based in Queens, Mito is an Asian fusion concept that's got some savvy marketing chops, going for a highbrow Japanese experience you might see on social media these days. This is its first Long Island location, but another is coming to Babylon this summer. And as part of the expansion, it's rebranded from Mito Asian Fusion to Mito Modern Japanese Cuisine. Korean-born executive chef Chul Kee Ko is a veteran of Buddha Bar and Jean-Georges in New York City. That's why there are French delicacies like Buerre butter on garlic miso linguine along with crispy risotto balls and mashed potatoes with yakiniku port wine reduction. (European fusion pastas are actually a well-known phenomenon in Japan.)
Most of the one-page menu belongs to sushi, but patrons aren't given the usual paper sheet and pencil to order. Instead, choose from a small selection of maki rolls, sushi and sashimi combo plates and elaborate rolls. The Joker roll ($18) has high-quality tuna and salmon, with fresh sushi rice and a pleasing sweet chile sauce that ties it all together.
A long plate of crispy rice sushi ($18) is also expertly prepared. Following the iconic Nobu recipe that's recently seen a resurgence on TikTok, squares of sushi rice are delicately deep-fried and brimming with milky lump crab salad and fans of ripe avocado. This format can get rather unwieldy, but Mito keeps it all together in one crunchy bite.
The selections get downright omakase level when the server recommends a toro fatty tuna not on the menu. The three nigiri arrive topped with tiny crowns of gold leaf for the ultimate refinement, and one of the pieces is faintly torched, so that the flesh had just started to cook.
Mito Modern Japanese Cuisine, 476 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, 631-258-8778, themito.com. Open Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday noon-10 p.m.