Restaurant Review: Toki (Red Bank, NJ)

toki
A mountain of Beef Negamaki.

Japanese and sushi places are getting to be a dime a dozen, but I would be inclined to expect more when said restaurant is located in Red Bank. Housed in what used to be the old Broadway Grill, Toki managed to exceed my expectations. Right off the bat, I was struck with the attentive service. I had brought Lime-a-Rita and rather than a wine glass, the waitress brought me a frosted beer glass. If you bring Sake, they will bring you the proper glasses and pourer, and even keep your bottle warm for you. Inside, the lights are dim and the decor is simple but sleek. It was actually kind of strange sitting in there and not seeing large posters of famous Broadway musicals emblazoned on the walls from days gone by.

We ordered a couple of rolls which included the shrimp tempura and also sweet potato (wanting to compare it to what I had at Lilly in Kennet Square a few weeks ago). Both were good, though they did start to unravel as I picked them up with my chopsticks. It made it difficult for me, someone who is now a pro at using chopsticks, to eat them. With that came an order of spring rolls which were burning hot and crispy, coming with a sweet chili sauce, similar to something you might get in a Thai restaurant.

For my entrée, I tossed a few options back and forth before going with the Beef Negamaki. This is what I order at Mahzu in Aberdeen, the only Japanese restaurant I visit with any regularity. Thinly sliced pieces of steak are rolled around a cluster of scallions. They are then covered in Teriyaki sauce. Just like Mahzu, these stay hot for a while because of how the scallions hold the heat. But there was one difference between the two dishes: the Negamaki at Toki were much larger than the bite-size pieces I was used to. This was a literal mountain of meat and scallions. An impressive portion anywhere. There were a dozen of them altogether, making it one of the most filling Japanese meals I have ever had. On the side was white rice and grilled vegetables. Everyone else at the table also enjoyed what they had, which included beautifully presented sashimi and other items from the teriyaki section.

toki2

Subsequent visits have allowed me to journey through some other menu options, including gyoza (dumplings), tempura shrimp and vegetables (I thought these were well-fried but did not have much flavor), and lastly, the hibachi noodles. These I got as a side order instead of eating the rice with my Negamaki. Laced with garlic and tasting of the grill, these are all too easy to be slurped down.

Due to portion size, price, service, and overall quality of dishes, I will give Toki 4 out of 5 stars. I may be repeating myself, but I have never received this much food at a Japanese restaurant and our waitress was exceptionally friendly and attentive. I have found myself becoming a regular here. In a town dotted with restaurants of all kinds, this is one which is way underrated.

Toki Japanese Restaurant is located at 80 Broad Street in Red Bank, New Jersey.

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