By now, I hope you’ve noticed that there are new “kids on the block” at Nino’s, and although they’re not exactly “kids,” they are world-traveled and quite savvy.
They also make some FANTASTIC Sushi!
They’re Bryan and Brandon Chin of Mon Jin Lau, and their company, Mon Jin Lau Sushi, “rolled” into Nino’s just after the 1st of this year with its “onsite,” über-fresh sushi.
And while we don’t have to convince anyone who has sampled or purchased their sushi, those of you who haven’t are in for real culinary treat. The variety, freshness and overall quality is exactly what you’d expect from Troy’s own Mon Jin Lau restaurant, one of the Midwest’s finest Asian Fusion inspired restaurants and winner of the prestigious 2008 Hour Magazine Restaurant of the Year.
The “idea” of sushi dates back centuries in both China and Japan, but the sushi we see today bears little resemblance to what was then mostly a method of preserving fish.
Nowadays, it’s fresh, fresh, fresh and truly an art form left to the imagination of sushi chefs and the appetite of their devoted patrons.
Mon Jin Lau Sushi – a fresh perspective
To learn more about Mon Jin Lau and its fabulous sushi, I sat down with Bryan Chin to get his “fresh” perspective on sushi and to learn more about these two men who are definitely “on a roll.”
“Bryan, Mon Jin Lau is a family operated business; tell us what your first memories were of the restaurant as you were growing up?
Bryan: “My family has always been very close to one another. Most kids didn’t follow their fathers to work, where in my family, we always came to our restaurant. I remember playing tag in the parking lot all the time, probably not the best idea (laughs)….and looking forward to the Chinese New Year every year and the Chinese Lion Dance performance.”
“What was your first “real job” at the restaurant?”
Bryan: “Well Pete, you’d think it was cooking or learning a position inside the restaurant. In fact, it was quite opposite. My dad would make us garden outside. We’d plant flowers and get rid of all the weeds!”
“Why sushi? Is it something you personally had a connection with?”
Bryan: “Sushi has been popular for the past 10 years or so in this area, but my dad recognized the popularity of it as he traveled when he was younger. He actually brought sushi to Mon Jin Lau long before people started really eating it. There definitely has been a long learning curve, and people in this area are still trying it for the first time.”
“How did you learn to make sushi?”
Bryan: “Sushi is an art. It takes time and practice, and like any type of cooking, you get better with it over time. Both my brother and I learned by being thrown in the fire. When we were short a sushi chef, or we had a big order, we had to jump in and help.”
“When did you decide you wanted to branch out on your own and start preparing sushi for retail sales? Who is involved with you in this new business?”
Bryan: “We recognized we have a superior product. Many restaurants make sushi but not like Mon Jin Lau. We wanted to make our sushi more readily available. Instead of having to come into our restaurant, we wanted to bring our sushi to the consumer. Our business was made up of our late Head Sushi Chef, Mr. Kim, my brother Brandon Chin, and I, but Mr. Kim is unfortunately no longer with us.”
“Mon Jin Lau is known for its “cutting edge” Nu-Asian cuisine. Has that philosophy carried over into your sushi cuisine? If so, what are some of the items that were influenced by that idea?”
Bryan: “Absolutely! My brother and I do a fair share of traveling. We’ve been all over Europe, parts of China, Hong Kong and Japan. We like to learn what other cultures are doing. Our Salmon on the Beach Roll, which is flame torched, and our Tuna Carpaccio, sliced thin with a jalapeno pepper, came from these experiences.”
“Some people seem to decide that they don’t like sushi even though they’ve never tried it. How have you been successful in introducing sushi to your customers?”
Bryan: “That’s a task in itself. My parents always taught me to try everything, even if it doesn’t sound appetizing. The world is filled with so much great food, and it’s a shame to be close minded. You might not like broccoli, but have you had broccoli prepared this way instead of that way?” The same philosophy goes with sushi. By definition, sushi gets its name from the way the rice is made, not because it always has to be raw, or that it always contains fish. We have many rolls that contain vegetables only. We even have a roll that is made up of grilled chicken! Most of the rolls we carry are cooked, from crab to shrimp to smoked salmon.”
“What are some of your suggestions for people who are trying sushi for the 1st time?”
Bryan: “Start simple. Try our California roll or vegetarian rolls. Then move on to our spicy tuna rolls that do contain raw fish. And if you don’t like seaweed, try our rolls that are wrapped in soy paper instead.”
“What new things are you looking forward to introducing on your sushi menu this year?”
Bryan: “We’re looking forward to bringing new and exciting sushi rolls, from healthier options, such as multigrain rice, to decadent, creative sushi as a Mexican Roll with Tomatillo Salsa.”
“And any other thoughts you might have, Bryan, about your business, sushi in general, and things you’d like Nino’s customers to know?”
Bryan: “Don’t be afraid to try sushi if you haven’t tried it before. It’s ok to try it and not like it, but give yourself the opportunity to taste it before making that decision. The same should be with all foods. We enjoy customer feedback, so if there are rolls you want us to carry on the menu, please feel free to let our sushi chefs know.”
“Thanks Bryan, great advice!”
We’re thrilled to have Mon Jin Lau Sushi at all Nino’s locations, including our two sushi stations at our Troy and Clinton Township stores, where you can purchase your fresh sushi in one of three convenient ways:
- Stop by the Mon Jin Lau’s sushi preparation area, and select one of its freshly prepared packages, ready to go.
- Pick up Mon Jin Lau’s menu (available at its sushi counter) and order exactly what you’d like. They’ll prepare it for you right then and there!
- Order online or in our store at our Deli 1,2,3 kiosk!
Both Nino’s and Mon Jin Lau look forward to serving you soon!