Friday, June 20, 2014

Looking for parking at MS Sushi, Joyce Chinese Cuisine

A leafy Hwae Dup Bap at MS Sushi in River Edge is a Korean twist on Chirasi, where raw fish is served over sushi rice. A squeeze bottle of gochujang, a spicy red-pepper paste, is served on the side.


When you try a new restaurant or one that is new to you, you might be worried about food, service and prices.

But at MS Sushi Japanese Restaurant and Joyce Chinese Cuisine in River Edge, limited parking is the biggest concern.

The restaurants are in a strip mall on antiquated Kinderkamack Road, an often-congested, major north-south route that is only one lane in each direction much of the time.

In front, customers of the restaurants and other businesses compete for about 30 diagonal spaces, and a big vehicle doesn't always fit between the lines.

Confusing signs warn of a 30-minute time limit or restrict parking to a couple of shops.

There are more spaces behind the restaurants, but you cannot enter any of the businesses from the rear.

When I met two friends for lunch on Thursday, one of us got a space in front and two parked in the back.

A friend ordered three pieces of tuna sushi, three pieces of eel sushi and a California roll cut into eight pieces.

Another friend ordered the Chicken Teriyaki lunch special.

Worth the detour

The family run MS Sushi has been open for about a year, and I enjoyed the food and reasonable prices.

The sushi chef is Chung Lee, this is his first restaurant and his wife and daughter assist him.

The small restaurant would be a great place to introduce someone to a healthy meal of raw fish.

My lunch selection, Hwae Dub Bap, included raw fish with lettuce, shredded vegetables and seaweed -- all of it layered on top of steamed rice ($9.50 and $15.95 at dinner).

One friend ordered three pieces of tuna sushi ($2.95), three pieces of eel sushi ($3.25) and a California Roll ($3.95).

The other friend's Chicken Teriyaki lunch special was $6.95. Pork Teriyaki also was available.

During our meal, the waitress at MS Sushi came over and set down a plate of Tuna Tataki with other fish, explaining it was a gift from the sushi chef. The plate held seared and raw tuna; raw salmon and fish eggs bathed in a sweet ponzu sauce made by the chef.

MS Sushi Japanese Restaurant.

MS Sushi Japanese Restaurant, 494 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; 201-523-9090. Open for lunch and dinner; closed Sundays. BYO. Minimum of $25  for delivery.

An $8 pot of tea

Before I had lunch at MS Sushi, I ducked into the far larger and glitzier Joyce Chinese Cuisine for a takeout menu.

One of the friends I met for lunch related that he, his wife and another couple had dinner there soon after the fine-dining restaurant opened recently, and was charged an introductory price of $6 for a pot of tea.

When they said they didn't want an entire pot of tea, just individual cups, they were told they were free, but were served four weak cups of tea made from a single bag.

Sure enough, a pot of Chinese Tea is listed on the menu for $8.

I can't recall another Chinese restaurant I've eaten in -- in New York, New Jersey, Hong Kong or anywhere else -- that charged for a pot of tea.

This is a serious restaurant with a large selection of Szechuan or Sichuan dishes marked with from one to three red peppers (hot & spicy, extra hot & spicy and very hot & spicy).

A section of the menu is headed "American Chinese Food" with General Tso's Chicken, Chow Fun, Egg Drop Soup and so forth.

The lunch menu is far more limited and doesn't include many of the classic cold or hot Szechuan dishes.

Prices are a little on the high side, judging from selections with whole fish and a $5 supplement for tilapia or sea bass ($31). 

I am looking forward to eating there, but might skip the tea and ask for a glass of water.

Joyce Chinese Cuisine, 478 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; 201-261-8858 or 8818. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, but closed between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. BYO, delivery available.

With only about 30 spaces in front of the strip mall on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge, potential customers might be discouraged and turn away. Four of the storefronts are empty, remnants of failed businesses.

Parking signs don't help the situation, above and below.

This large NJ Transit truck couldn't fit between the lines of a parking space, and I didn't want to risk parking next to it, fearing damage to my car when the driver's door was opened or worse.

The rear lot had plenty of free spaces on Thursday afternoon.

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