Thelonius Monkfish, Central Sq

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Where: Thelonious Monkfish – 524 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139
When: November, 2011

Last night Daniela and I did something naughty. Verrrry naughty. We donned trench coats and fake mustaches, crept across town to Central Square and tried a new sushi restaurant – Thelonious Monkfish. Please don’t tell Blue Fin.

TM, as I will call it for short as I seem to spell it wrong every time, wooed me with their “Jazz for the Palate” tag line. I had also heard from Dan that the sushi was fantastic and it was worth going to even though they don’t have a liquor license (gasp!). Those of you who know me know that I like a drink or two with my meal but this had to be done.

We didn’t think to make a reservation so when we got there, and saw that the place was packed, the host told us we could take a seat at the sushi bar or he had space at a Japanese-style table. We got excited about that until realizing those cushions aren’t really ideal when wearing a skirt. To the bar we go!

The waitstaff were very good, efficient and attentive. It wasn’t lacking just because we were at the bar which was great.

Their menu is extensive. They have everything from tamarind duck to ginger cod. From fried rice to Tonkatsu curries. From Udon to Krapows.The names are fun to read over and the descriptions are clear and mouth watering. My favorite names were in the “Fairy Tale Sushi Series” with names like The Frog Prince roll (salmon, mango & tempura crunch, layered with avocado, then crowned with a spicy snow crab & tobiko salad) and The Sleeping Beauty Roll (white tuna, crushed pineapple & tempura flakes wrapped in yellow soy paper & sushi rice, then draped w/ salmon, sliced ripe mango, drizzled with a refreshing pineapple-lime mayo). I like a good fairy tale, especially if its got a happy ending.

We had stalked the menu ahead of time, pointing out the Cranberry Crab Rangoons which looked interesting and delicious. We still went through the motions of pretending to look and exclaim “oh, Cranberry Crab Rangoons, those sound interesting… Hmm, what do you think? Should we get an order?”. Yes. Yes, we should. They were amazing. One wonders how you would make a cream and crab filled dumpling that is then deep fried even better but apparently cranberry is the way. The tart but sweetness of the cranberries cut into the heaviness of the cream and made them feel lighter and, dare I say, healthier? Yum! The only complaint we had was that the order came with 5 and we had to awkwardly split the last one. Come on, add another to round it out! Okay, I really just wanted another.

We always get the same thing when we go out for sushi – spicy tuna make and idaho maki. Its our thing. We weren’t willing to give either of those up but we did think we should try something new in addition to these traditional rolls. We got, per Dan’s recommendation, the Harlem Nocturne Roll which consisted of avocado, asparagus, cucumber, tempura crunch all wrapped in nori and rice topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese and spring onion “confetti”. Hajimemashite! Dan was right, its like a fresh salad explosion in your mouth. I couldn’t say it better. And, honestly, anything with “confetti” is bound to be fun. I’d definitely also recommend the spicy tuna and idaho rolls here, they were both really fresh.

When we were paying our bill I noticed that every time a customer came in I’d get really cold so I’d ask to sit at the back of the restaurant next time. I’m always cold though, aren’t I?

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