Mitsuba Japanese Cuisine


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.
In an area where sushi restaurants aren’t difficult to come by, Mitsuba in Chatham, N.J. stands out among the crowd. My family and I have lived within 15 minutes of Mitsuba since it opened in 2006, but have always busied ourselves with sushi restaurants we enjoyed closer to home.

The food:
At first glance, Mitsuba’s menu appears similar to many other of my favorite sushi spots. The menu contains regular kitchen starters like miso soup, shumai, tempura, and avocado salad, but Mitsuba also offers a separate section for sushi bar appetizers. This is where I was truly reeled in.

We ate one order of pepper tuna salad with creamy wasabi sauce and caviar and one order of Salmon Tataki: lightly seared salmon over a bed of greens with avocado, spicy mango sauce, and wasabi sauce on top. These two appetizers truly impressed me. The flavor pairings were spot on and I’ve not had anything quite like the Salmon Tataki.

Following the appetizers, my parents and I split three special rolls. The special rolls at Mitsuba are not necessarily more creative by themselves than special rolls found at other similar restaurants. This isn’t to say that Mitsuba’s menu isn’t creative, but most sushi bar menus list a significant amount of well-crafted special rolls.

What truly stands out to me throughout Mitsuba’s sushi menu is their implementation of sauces. In my experience, most competing restaurants use spicy mayo or eel sauce and that’s about it. Mitsuba has both eel sauce and a sauce similar to spicy mayo, but the sushi chefs go the extra mile. Some rolls contain chili sauce, while others contain a wasabi sauce.

The drinks:
Mitsuba is BYOB, but they do offer Japanese sodas as well as tea, coffee, juice, milk, and soda.

The service/ambience:
Mitsuba’s only downfall in my opinion is that the restaurant is a bit open. I like to be tucked away in a corner, or at least not feel like I’m completely on display. Luckily there aren’t too many tables right smack in the middle and I was sitting in a corner booth. Aside from that, the restaurant is gorgeous. The seats are comfortable and the noise level is low even when it gets busy. The sushi bar itself is particularly good looking with gorgeous woodwork and a pastel tile backsplash. The waitstaff is quite friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.

My parents have deemed Mitsuba the best sushi spot in the area and I’m not sure I can argue. I have my allegiances elsewhere (namely Sakura in Millburn, N.J.), but Chatham’s Mitsuba holds its own. I missed out on the Japanese soda last time, but there will definitely be a next time.