We were smitten on our first visit because everything we illiterately ordered off the menu, helped (or un-helped) by the sweet non-English speaking kimono clad waitresses ("and they're Korean, they're not even REAL Japanese" wryly whispered a co-worker) tasted amazing and we happily joined the ranks of Japanese food lovers.
The restaurant became the de facto place for celebrating anniversaries, birthdays or random significant events like "I didn't get punched in the face by a customer" Day, and my personal fave "Oh My Gaahh, my car just skidded down Montclair Ave. as it iced up and I didn't die" Day.
One dish we routinely would go back for was the Beef Negimaki. It was wafer thin slices of beef stuffed with green scallions and braised in a sweet and salty Teriyaki like sauce. The dish would be served sizzling on a hot iron plate along with tender steamed cubes of potatoes that had been dressed in just a hint of butter.
Now, I hope I haven't committed some act of dishonor in confusing the name of the dish, because I expressly remembered the dish being named Negimayaki in the menu, but most of my Google searches turn up no finds on that name, but plenty on Beef Negimaki. Same difference? Yes/No? If anyone knows the difference, do drop me a line.
By the way, we left New Jersey 3 years later, and I randomly searched the Internet for the restaurant, and could not find any new links but a disheartening note that it had been turned into a bar/lounge. Any Little Fall-ians out there who can back this up?
Beef Negimaki (adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations)
About 10-12 stalks of green onions
~1 lb steak (I found a thin cut of sirloin tip, cut Milanese style, 1.2 lb had 4 slices)
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp shredded ginger
1 tsp chilli oil + 1 tsp sesame oil (available in Asian grocery stores)
Salt to season meat
1. Blanch scallions. Some recipes on the Internet did not advocate doing this as the scallions get limp in the process, but I stuck to it because I wanted to ensure the scallions were "cooked" enough. Submerge scallions in boiling, salted water, remove immediately and plunge into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Remove immediately and dry on paper towels.
2. Lay out the steak, either slice it lengthwise to get 1/2" -1" thin thickness (or have your butcher do that for you). Now invoke your annoying neighbor, ex-boyfriend or high-school nemesis, grab that meat hammer and pound that meat . OK, not so much into pulp, but beat it down a little.
3. Season the steak with a little salt. If you think the marinade is salty enough, you can omit, but I found that the meat itself needed some seasoning.
4. Place three to four green onions on each piece of steak (I had a total of 4 steak pieces). Roll up the steak from the longest side until you get a tight cylinder. Tie in three spots with kitchen twine.
4. Repeat for all the meat and green onions. Refrigerate.
5. Prepare the marinade - mix the mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Stir together and pour over the steak rolls. Let the meat marinate for about 30 minutes. Note the green onions may get more soggy the longer you leave them submerged in marinade.This is going off to Joanne of Eats Well With Others and Regional Recipes which is spotlighting Japan this month.