I recently had the chance to give Sushi Mon a try and I positively jumped at it, because I love me some raw fish – sashimi, nigiri, rolls – you name it, I’ll at least try it. My expectations were high going in and they were exceeded in every way.
First, let’s start with the atmosphere. Located just off Hillsborough Street near NC State, this cozy restaurant is both classy and casual, appealing to the college crowd and those of us a few years removed from university. My husband and I sat at the bar, which I fully recommend because you should get as much time with Chef Tom as you can. His food is incredible and his personality is incredibly entertaining. The staff were attentive but not overwhelming. My favorite part of the meal (besides the food obviously) was the pace. Too often these days we get into the habit of rushing through our food, then feel too full, and maybe not quite as satisfied as we had hoped. This meal was relaxing and purposeful, and although we ate a large amount of food, we left feeling completely content.
I’m not going to get into every single dish we tried because that would just be too much information for one article. Instead, I’ll take you through the amazing highlights. I will say that everything we tried was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
We started with the oysters ($5) with “oriental salsa and chive.” This was unlike any other raw oyster I’ve ever had. The flavors of the oriental salsa were pronounced and paired with the salty, slurpy sea creature perfectly. Next up is the X-O Tuna ($10). As the bro next to us at the sushi bar put it, “It tastes like straight up sea butter!” The tuna itself was indeed creamy as butter. The sauce – speckled with crunchy garlic, pink peppercorns and soft rice noodles – added another level of flavor, dare I say umami. The hubs and I almost requested a spoon so we could finish off the last drops, but managed to restrain ourselves.
Now onto some heartier items. The crunch salmon roll ($13) with mango and shrimp tempura is a bundle of fun. Topped with crunchy noodles and a balsamic soy reduction, this roll is a combination of sweet, salty and savory, and is probably the best fruit-included sushi I’ve ever had. After that came a special platter of sashimi (12 pieces for $28) presented in a beautiful balloon-like ice sculpture. I cannot stress the quality of Sushi Mon’s fish. Every piece was incredibly fresh. Chef Tom and manager Chris, who opened the restaurant together, told us they fly in their fish from multiple countries daily in order to get the best possible for their customers. Their dedication to the ingredients they use shows through in every dish they serve. From the fresh wasabi root ground up in mortar in pestle at the sushi bar, to the three-year aged soy sauce that is delicately brushed on pieces of nigiri, these folks have passion and attention to detail.
Now for dessert. First came two flavors each of mochi ice cream and macarons. My husband doesn’t like macarons because he says they are too sugary and dainty (insert eye roll), but he loved the orange-flavored macaron. And of course mochi ice cream is always a refreshing end to any meal. But wait, there’s more! We ended the night with honey toast topped with ice cream, caramel and caramel popcorn. The honey toast part is essentially a toasted roll with honey and butter, but the addition of ice cream and popcorn pretty much blew my mind. I will now try to recreate this simple masterpiece in my own kitchen, although I know Chef Tom’s will always be better. I’ll just have to go back!
If you’re looking for an elegant sushi meal curated for your tastes by someone who knows what truly decadent sushi should be, give Sushi Mon a try.
105 Friendly Dr
Raleigh, NC 27607
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.
Carleigh Gabryel works as a communications specialist for UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill. She lives in north Raleigh and revels in the fact that her commute allows her to enjoy delicious foods from all corners of the Triangle. She loves to cook and considers herself quite the amateur chef. When she dines out she likes to try things she can’t or won’t cook for herself. A native Virginian and University of Kentucky graduate, Carleigh’s Southern roots run deep. However, her curiosity routinely drives her food fetish to new and interesting cuisines. There are two things Carleigh has never been able to refuse at a restaurant: bacon-wrapped dates and a robust bourbon cocktail. Follow her on Instagram at @gingerfoodtravels.