Komegashi Spinoff Brings Restaurateur’s Passion for Fine Japanese Cuisine to the Jersey City Waterfront
By Sally Deering
Restaurateur Johnny Leung is a self-proclaimed “Foodie” who opened Komegashi on Montgomery Street near Exchange Place in Jersey City in 1990. He made a successful splash as the only fine-dining Japanese restaurant in town and in 2000, Leung opened Komegashi Too on the Jersey City Waterfront at a time when the waterfront had little to offer as a dining destination and there were few hi-rises beyond the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
As the waterfront developed, so did the restaurant’s cadre of devoted patrons, some who have eaten at Komegashi Too practically every day since it opened. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Komegashi Too was packed, as usual, with patrons dining on exquisite Japanese dishes beautifully plated and popping with fantastic flavors.
“Here at Komegashi Too, the style is a little different from Komegashi on Montgomery Street,” Leung says, taking a break during the busy lunch service. “We don’t want it to be the same. Here we have a bigger variety of choices, foods you don’t normally see on a Japanese menu, like Sea Bass from the Mediterranean.”
Leung ‘s passion for fine Japanese cuisine is evident in every dish served at Komegashi Too, a cozy 120-seat restaurant on Town Plaza, just steps from the NJ Transit’s Newport stop on the PATH and a block from the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. This Komegashi spinoff of the original offers cuisine that’s not as traditional as its predecessor, Leung says, and although the menu’s star is the Sushi, Leung’s chef is a masterful creator of dishes that look like plated works of art.
There are so many Sushi choices offered at Komegashi Too, and some of the highlights are the Godzilla Roll, yellowtail and salmon; Creamy Nirvana Roll, shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, cream cheese; Spider Roll, fried soft shell crab and avocado; Funky Monkey Roll, spicy tuna, shrimp, crabstick; Alaska Roll, salmon, avocado, cucumber, scallions and mayo; and Banana Mama Roll, a delicious blend of eel, avocado and fresh banana ($8.50-$13.50; the Spider Roll is market price of the day.)
Featured items are the Hiyashi Nasu with Uni , broiled Japanese eggplant with California sea urchin; K2 Summer Noodles, cold Ramen noodles with broiled chicken, egg and tomato; Soft Shell Crab with Japanese Salsa, the salsa is a light mix of onions, tomato, peppers and cilantro without the heavy tomato base; Kumamoto Oyster appetizer served with spicy radish, scallions and Ponzu; Seafood Cerviche, octopus, shrimp, squid, orange, clams and white fish with lemon citrus garlic sauce; and the chef’s new creation, New Style Sushi with white tuna, salmon and fluke ($7.50-$15.)
Soups include Miso, white Miso broth with scallions, tofu and seaweed; Hama Sui, Littleneck clams in Bonito fish broth; Tai Sui, Japanese snapper cooked in Bonito broth, with Somen, Shitake and spinach and Gyoza Hot Pot, homemade pork Gyoza dumplings, vegetables and tofu cooked in a tasty chicken soup ($2.50-$13.95.)
The Salad menu features Seaweed Salad, marinated mixed seaweed with sesame dressing, Steamed Veggies Salad, seasonal vegetables with sesame dressing and Seared Tuna Salad, seared tuna with mixed greens and sesame oil sauce ($5.50-$14.)
For Entrees, there’s the Chicken Tango, tender and juicy roasted chicken (white and dark meat) with orange reduction sauce served with grilled scallions and fried onions; Beef Negimaki, scallions rolled in thinly-sliced beef, served with teriyaki sauce; Tonkatsu, a deep-fried pork cutlet with Japanese BBQ sauce; and Miso Bouillabaisse, lobster tail, salmon, shrimp and mussels with ginger Miso shrimp bisque ($14.95-$29.)
For busy 9-to-5ers, Komegashi Too offers a special lunch menu that features Salmon, Beef, Shrimp or Chicken Teriyaki; Sashimi & Tempura; and Katsu Curry, fried pork cutlet with Japanese-style curry over rice ($8;50-$11.50.) Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays and includes Firework Chirashi, seasoned sushi with fish, Ikura, and egg; Crepe with Chicken, grilled chicken with mushrooms, Bok-Choy, red peppers and Nappa cabbage; and Steak & Egg Don, beefsteak, and egg over rice with spicy vegetables ($11.50-$18.)
A resident of Jersey City who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, Leung decided to follow his passion for food after spending several years working in construction. Although he doesn’t claim to be a chef, Leung oversees his business with the careful eye and taste buds of a professional Foodie.
“We’re a neighborhood restaurant,” Leung says. “Eighty percent of our customers are return customers and that’s because of the food.”
Jersey City, NJ 07310
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 12pm-10:30pm
Fri: 12 pm-11pm
Sat: 12:30 pm-11pm
Sun: 1 pm-10pm
Sat Brunch: 12:30-3 pm
Sun Brunch: 1-4 pm
Photo Source: Yelp