This weekend, I explored two Japanese restaurants in the vicinity of Princeton: Mo C Mo C and Sushi Palace.
Mo C Mo C
Mo C Mo C is on Tulane Street — the one slightly farther than Witherspoon. It is about a five minute walk if one exits from the FitzRandolph Gate. I went there around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and there was no wait at all. We picked a booth and sat down. Although there were two or three tables filled with people, the ambience was quiet and peaceful in general. It would be a great place to go with two to four friends to relax and chat. The background music was at a very comfortable level — not too loud to annoy people, nor too low to be heard. It was, in general, a very pleasant and noiseless environment.
The service was good as well. The waitress was quick with the order and quickly took away the empty plates we had so the table was not overcrowded. The time to wait for food was fairly short as well — I would say about 15 minutes and there were four of us. I was satisfied with the efficiency of Mo C Mo C.
In terms of the actual food, I ordered the vegetarian platter as the main dish, as can be seen from the image below. The portion was regular and it was very delicious. Out of all the sushi places I have been to on Nassau, I would say Mo C Mo C had the most authentic sushi. The sticky rice was not too grainy and hard, but rather melted in my mouth. The avocado was freshly picked, displaying a delightful green with no visible browning. I also tried my friend’s pork katsu and it tasted authentic — not too oily or light in flavor, with a crispy outside and a tender inside for the pork cutlet.
Besides the authentic flavor, another way that Mo C Mo C stands out from other sushi restaurants is the attention it pays to the aesthetics. As can be seen from the photo, my plate looked like a painting. The chef decorated the sides carefully and arranged my sushi in a way that made it appeal like a secret garden. Not only was the plate aesthetically pleasing, but also the hot water glass used to refill my tea, looked unique — like an upside-down light bulb — and each dish was shaped as a fish. The amount of care and thought put into the presentation made the entire meal pleasing to the eye and even more palatable for the stomach.
Switching gear, I went to Sushi Palace Sunday night. Located in Kingston Mall, Sushi Palace is not on Nassau, but rather a 10 minute Uber ride from campus. However, if everyone chips in, it will cost not even $2 per person for the ride.
In terms of environment, it is definitely noisier than Mo C Mo C. However, it is also a lot more populated than Mo C Mo C. There was one empty table when we got there, and we got there around 5:30 p.m. — not even a conventional time for dinner yet. Everyone was talking and the walls somewhat echo, so it was harder to hear each other. I would recommend Sushi Palace for larger groups, around 6 to 10 people. I celebrated my birthday there and really enjoyed it. If you are looking for a quiet place to talk or ponder on life, Sushi Palace will not be your top option. On the contrary, if you are looking for a place to dine out with friends and chat light-heartedly, then Sushi Palace is definitely the way to go.
It’s got an interesting policy for ordering. Instead of everyone ordering what they want, people tick off the rolls, listed on a paper menu, give the menus to the waiter and then the restaurant puts everything on giant plates. Technically, you can only eat the rolls you order but people more than often dip in and try everything on the plates.
As can be seen from the photo, that was the combination of 12 rolls that we ordered. If one can finish everything on the plate, there would be no punishment. If not, there would be a $10 extra for the to-go boxes. The idea is to not waste and order what one can take.
The actual sushi rolls are not as good as the ones in Mo C Mo C. The sticky rice was harder and tasted kind of rough in the mouth and the ingredients were not as fresh. Sushi Palace seems to value quantity over quality since so many people are having so many different rolls. However, the variety of the selection is undeniably greater in Sushi Palace. Just look at how palatable the picture above looks! Don’t get me wrong — the sushi did not taste bad. It was definitely better than late meal sushi. Like I mentioned before, Sushi Palace is a place for a lot of people to hang out and share.
Mo C Mo C, delicious and quiet, and Sushi Palace, popular and fun, approach Japanese cuisine in distinct ways. Take two hours off and go try one of them out on a weekend.