, , , Nagano, – and now we can add to the list of Japanese restaurants in town. Just steps from the courthouse, on Washington Street, Morristown's newest eatery joins several others in town serving a full menu of sushi as well as some Asian fusion favorites.
Decorated similar to many Asian fusion restaurants, Wabi-Sabi is dim inside, with dark brown walls, floors and furniture, accented with a blue-lighted aquarium in the center that is filled with colorful saltwater fish. Track lighting on the ceiling and lanterns along the concrete and exposed brick walls illuminate the otherwise dark room. The thumping beats of Kylie Minogue, the Black Eyed Peas and Enrique Iglesias from the speakers add to the modern vibe here.
Much of the menu is filled with sushi. With two dozen traditional rolls, six vegetarian rolls and 18 signature rolls, the menu covers everything from a basic salmon roll ($4.50) to a Lucky Roll, with fresh lobster, avocado, mango and shrimp wrapped with white seaweed ($16). The menu also offers seven fusion entrees ($18-$23) and 10 “kitchen” entrees ($13-$18).
I ordered the Japanese Madai from the fusion menu, and an avocado salad to start. The Madai came with a choice of soup or salad–I chose the miso soup, since I had already ordered a salad.
The soup had a flavorful broth, a little more dense than usual. Swimming in the broth were bits of diced tofu, sliced scallions and long strips of Japanese mushrooms–too thin for me to identify, but clearly the type you would have to seek out at Whole Foods or an Asian market. I enjoyed the soup enough to tip the bowl to my mouth to finish it.
Next came the salad: chopped romaine topped, in order from the bottom, with a sweet ginger dressing, a sliced avocado running length of long dish, white and black sesame seeds and orange salmon roe. I declined the offer for a fork, then realized that picking up a thin slice of avocado with chopsticks was much more of a challenge than picking up a sushi roll. Still, I met the challenge and wiped out every bite of this amazing salad.
The salad was gorgeous, but the madai entree was even more visually appealing. Like a tilapia, this flaky whitefish was served in four pieces, each lightly breaded and artfully arranged around a subtle assortment of sliced mushrooms, peppers and zucchini.
Before I started eating, my waitress caught me snapping pictures of my plate. When I told her how beautiful it was, she reminded me that it was not just a well-presented dish, but a good-tasting one as well. And she was right.
The sauce that covered the dish was sweet and spicy–spicy enough that I could feel it throughout my head, but not so spicy as to overwhelm the delicate flavors of everything else on the plate. Did I mention the purple flower, shredded daikon, cilantro or the side of white rice? Again, I finished every bite.
This was a filling, satisfying and mostly healthy meal, but it left me with little room to try one of the ice creams on the menu.
On a more somber note, eating in beautiful this Japanese restaurant in Morristown, I couldn't help but think about the disasters that have happened to Japan. It made me feel fortunate for what I have and the opportunity I have to be able to enjoy such a fine meal in comfort. I hope all Japanese Americans in Morristown know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.