Dining in the Boston metro area makes one hope rather fervently that Robert de Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa will add the Bay State to their growing list of conquered markets. With the possible exception of O Ya — an eatery I have yet to try — most Boston-area Japanese restaurants serve a decidedly Americanized Japanese food. (The spoon most serve alongside a bowl of miso soup is especially perplexing.) But among these so-called “cheap and cheerful” Japanese eateries, Thelonious Monkfish — which, admittedly, bills itself as a “sushi and Asian fusion” restaurant — stands out as the cheeriest of the lot.
The menu has something for everyone, peppered with witty musical allusions (say “Gaga’s Monster Roll”, a truly monstrous thing with octopus, tiger shrimp, tobikio and a half dozen other components). For the extremely squeamish, the menu offers a selection of inoffensive fried rice and noodle dishes, however incongruous they look against the rest of the menu. (It’s not everyday one encounters a restaurant that serves both pad Thai and uni sashimi.) The somewhat more adventurous can enjoy a fine selection of maki, donburi and other plates that hew a bit closer to Japanese cooking. Sushi lovers can enjoy the fresh, high-quality seafood that makes everything from the maguro to hokigai nigiri a pleasure to eat.
Service is pleasant, cheerful and mostly prompt. The kitchen has not quite mastered the art of getting a large group’s order on the pass simultaneously, but their sins are small enough to be written off by all but the most persnickety diners.
Amid the sea of mediocre mid-priced Japanese restaurant in Boston, Thelonious Monkfish passes muster. The glommed-on “pan Asian” portion of the menu and other idiosyncrasies notwithstanding, the restaurant offers tasty Japanese food with a fun twist and charming ésprit.
Joseph Kibe is our resident data scientist. He has a particular enthusiasm for the exploratory and explanatory power of mathematics and economics. When he’s not slicing and dicing data at home or in the office, he spends much of his free time in the kitchen or dining out. Joseph has a particularly soft spot for great bread, and hopes someone will open a great French bakery in the Boston area soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @josephkibe.