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Kenji Fusion Asian Bistro (Hamilton, NJ)

l
legendary182 Feb 19, 2009 01:55 PM

Hi.. newbie here. My name is Rob.. I just moved back to Central NJ from Pittsburgh, PA where I got to know many of you 'chowhounders' from my restaurant stints at Girasole, Eleven, and an externship with The Capital Grille as a Hotel & Restaurant Management student at PCI.

I just applied at On-The-Bone at the Doubletree Hotel in Princeton this afternoon so we will see where that leads. I looked around the area here (Rats, Outback, Jester's Cafe, Tattoni's, Santino's, Spigola, Toscano..) and I had either worked there growing up, or I have heard the place is on it's last legs.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I stopped in at Kenji Fusion Asian Bistro on Route 33 in Hamilton Square and had a FANTASTIC meal! The mango ice, crazy tuna roll, lettuce wraps, and some type of pancake with scallions were all FANTASITC!

I don't know how the sushi scene is here in Central Jersey nowadays, but I figured I'd give yous a heads up and let you know this place is great!

Looking forward to taking care of you all somewhere in the area in the near future. Bon appetit!

  1. l
    legendary182 Feb 19, 2009 01:58 PM

    Forgot the link

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    Kenji Fusion Asian
    1280 Highway 33, Trenton, NJ 08690

    1. njfoodies Feb 20, 2009 06:28 AM

      We've been here once as well and it was very enjoyable! Great food, but what do you expect from the duo coming from Elements Asia? They are doing a great job... -mJ

      3 Replies
      1. re: njfoodies
        njfoodies Mar 1, 2009 06:13 AM

        In an area where it is hard to find good Asian Cuisine, Kenji Fusian Asian Bistro has been a breath of fresh air! Somehow however, I have never blogged on Kenji from previous visits, so here I am, fresh from dinner, sitting on the couch enjoying some nice pinot noir, as I type with the movie Sideways on in the background.

        Tonight I called Kenji to get a reservation, and was lucky to get us in within the hour. That said, I brushed my teeth, and off we went on the short 15 minute drive to Kenji.

        Upon arriving, the restaurant was packed to the gills as always, and we were greeted by the owner, and he asked if we wanted to sit at the sushi bar. This was a good call on his part, and appreciated. The sushi bar is the heartbeat of this restaurant, and there is lots of action going on there. Unfortunately, there are only about 10 tables at the sushi bar, so it was nice to get a seat there. They also have a nice flat screen TV hanging on the wall, so it's nice for all of you sports buffs as they always have ESPN or other sports networks on.

        One of our favorite things about Kenji is the fact that they are a BYOB establishment. That being said, we brought an Iris pinot noir, which is becoming a staple in our house. Sure, a nice sauvignon blanc or other white would have paired better maybe, but pinot went very well with all of the dishes that we had tonight.

        To start off, we ordered the Haru Maki, which is a crispy Japanese spring roll. These came out piping hot, with a side of sweet and sour, and a side of hot mustard. After letting them cool, the first bite was absolutely delicious, and exposed the steam as the center of these was on fire! Great vegetables to include mushroom, carrots, cabbage, and a rice noodle. These are always a favorite of ours, and a great way to start.

        From there we went to the land of sushi. Zelda and I both opted for a shrimp tempura roll each, which is one of our favorites. Crispy tempura shrimp wrapped in nori and rice, with sesame seeds and a sweet, almost teriyaki like sauce. These are always delicious, and a treat. Zelda also opted for a spicy salmon roll, and I opted for a spicy tuna roll. These were both incredible, and you Could tell just how fresh the fish was. Kenji has sushi down to a science, and it is always amazing to watch how fast the rolls fly out of the bar. Kudos to the three gentleman working the sushi bar tonight!

        By this time, I was more than content, and could have gone home happy, but that was not the case tonight, and there is nothing wrong with going home with a little bag of leftovers. That said, we opted to split the General Tso's chicken. As always, this is fried up nice and golden brown, with a heaping helping of chicken, broccoli, and the delicious homemade sauce that they make. One again, this dish came out smoking hot, and was an absolute pleasure. The outside was crispy, hot, and fried as perfect as it gets, yet the inside was putting off steam, and was nice and juicy. This is such a great dish, and they have the preparation down for this dish.

        We also opted for a side of chicken friend rice, and this too was delicious. Everything comes out of the kitchen so hot, and you can tell that it is their priority to serve the entrees as they come up in the window. There is nothing hard or special about fried rice, but it was great, with loads of thinly sliced chicken strips, carrots, peas, onion, and egg. This rice was not over seasoned in the least, and was a perfect example of how fried rice should be. Another kudo to the Kenji crew.

        What can we say about this place other than awesome? This is exactly what our area has been needing, and a breath of fresh air. We used to complain that there were no good Asian places withing a half hour, with the exception of Elements Asia, where the owner of Kenji used to work. Now, he has his own place, and it's even better.

        The ambiance at Kenji is just what an Asian Fusion restaurant should look like. The dining room is dark, with nice stainless steel on the ceiling to give it a bit of an industrial look. One wall is lit in blue light, while another wall is lit up in red with bamboo stalks. A flatscreen greets you in the lobby, while another hangs in the back over the sushi bar. Finally, they have great music playing in there, with anything from U2, to techno, to jazzy fusion...absolutely perfect for the setting.

        In closing, what is there to say? Great food, great service, and great prices. And even better news, look for them to be opening Fusion II in the new shopping center on Route 130 near in Hamilton 1/2 mile south of the Hamilton Marketplace! We wish them the best, and look forward to dining with them again in the near future! Cheers!

        Route 33
        Hamilton, NJ
        Phone: (609)785-0008
        Web: http://www.kenjifusion.com/

        1. re: njfoodies
          t
          tom246 Mar 1, 2009 07:51 AM

          nj, Kenji sounds and looks really good. It is on our list to try soon.

          1. re: tom246
            njfoodies Mar 1, 2009 01:27 PM

            Let us know Tom and we'll meet ya there with a nice Kistler chard! Haven't had any problems with nice pinot over there either with the food! -mJ

      2. c
        cbean Jun 2, 2009 02:23 PM

        Kenji is definitely our go-to restaurant in the Hamilton area. We've never walked in without being greeted with an enthusiastic smile, and the BYOB factor is a huge plus when you're not looking to break the bank on a casual night out.

        We go primarily for their sushi, which is hard to beat in the immediate area. With a huge selection on their seemingly ever expanding sushi menu, we never get bored, and our favorites are always changing (which is super refreshing.) Their specialty rolls are creative and so delicious, but that doesn’t take anything away from the basics. It's easy to get deliciously carried away when ordering :]

        As in love I am with the sushi, the entrees at Kenji have been hit or miss with me. Some I've loved (Crispy Seafood) and some missed the mark with me (a seafood Udon bowl that I cannot recall the name of, not surprisingly). This still won't keep me from trying others and finding some yummy gems.

        Overall I'd definitely recommend Kenji if you are in the Hamilton area. We've had tons of great meals there, and I look forward to our next. Oh, and they have a diverse appetizer menu as well, so don’t miss that opportunity to find something fantastic! Enjoy!

        1. shabbystorm Jun 16, 2009 02:10 PM

          Had lunch here at Kenji Fusion today.
          This is now one of my favorite restaurants.

          The restaurant is dark and cozy with wonderful service.
          The Salmon Sushi was good, on par with many other restaurants in the state.

          The Marci Sweetie Roll - Perfectly marinated Grilled Squid wrapped in soybean paper with grilled scallop topped with avocado with the perfect amount of special sauce on the side - it was AMAZING! For me, No exaggeration.

          There are so many interesting dishes on the menu cannot wait to return.

          Keep in mind the roll I had was 15.99, not cheap. It was the second most expensive sushi lunch I ever had next to Sushi Lounge in Totowa NJ, unlike Sushi Lounge this place WAS worth the expense. They also have reasonable lunch specials.
          Place was crowded at lunch!
          Thank you for taking the time to post, because of the review on chowhound I tried this place.

          Good news, they are soon opening Fusion 2 in that new Hamilton Shoppes on Rt 130, it will have a similar menu plus hibachi.

          Great Food Day!

          1. shabbystorm Jun 18, 2009 04:27 PM

            Was so excited about this place, took visitors, and went back again today.
            Although my guests enjoyed lunch, I ate the same thing, and had a completely different experience than just 2 days ago.
            I had the same roll, Marcie Sweetie, and it tasted completely different.
            They had 4 sushi chefs today, 2 the other day.
            Assume a different chef made the roll.
            The roll had a completely different texture, the sauce different, a spicy oil was drizzled on the sauce, which was not there the other day.
            It was good, no need to send it back or complain, but not mind blowing like the other day.
            Wanted to post, and share a valuable lesson learned.

            1. Gwendolen Jun 28, 2009 05:29 PM

              Thanks to the rave reviews on this Board, my husband and I tried Kenji for dinner this evening. I won't really elaborate on the interior design, except to say that the fake "silk" bamboo plants could use a very good cleaning, as they were encrusted in layers of dust. That's the only negative I have to say about the place. Loved the jazz fusion music that was playing!

              We were promptly greeted and seated, and our server and server-in-training came over immediately and introduced themselves. Having read the menu online, I had an idea of what I was going to order, until I saw the print menu which seemed to be twice the size than the online one! (I later learned the online menu is the take-out/delivery menu).

              We started with miso soup, an nice portion full of tofu, scallions and seaweed. Husband had seaweed salad which he said had a nice bite to it. I had a special request for a vegetable roll of cucumber, avocado and asparagus wrapped in soy paper. A nice, light appetizer. My DH ordered the sushi/tuna roll. Very fresh, large portions of fish and shrimp. He said it was on par with Shumi in Somerville. As I do not eat fish, I ordered chicken teriyaki with brown rice. The sauce was a little thicker than what I normally care for, but it was good. Chicken was cooked perfectly; not dry or rubbery like I have had in other restaurants. Had I known ahead of time, I would have requested a steamed vegetable instead of the bed of onions and peppers (which I am allergic to), so I just pushed that aside.

              DH ordered the Thai Sweet Mango rice for dessert. A nice portion of warm rice with a hint of coconut milk and slices of ripe, sweet mango. I had the avocado salad with ginger dressing for dessert. Yes, an unconventional choice, but being a weight watcher, I wanted something lighter but filling. I enjoyed the hearty slices of avocado over crisp greens and a wonderful ginger dressing.

              Husband brought home an order of pineapple fried shrimp for tomorrow's lunch.

              We were very excited to hear that the new Kenji on Route 130 is scheduled to open mid-July.

              I asked how far they deliver and was told that it was a very wide area in Hamilton all the way to Cream Ridge.

              We'll definitely be returning, as there are so many choices on Kenji's menu that we want to try!

              5 Replies
              1. re: Gwendolen
                k
                kelvinleesin Aug 17, 2009 08:29 AM

                Fusion 2 hibachi steakhouse is now open....
                Serving france brazillian ,japanese and fusion sushi ,and with 7 hibachi table available

                1. re: kelvinleesin
                  shabbystorm Aug 22, 2009 09:27 AM

                  Tried Fusion 2.
                  A replicated copy of the first restaurant.
                  Menu is very similar if not identical to Kenji
                  Strange decor. So dark could barely see during the day. Inside lots of neon and a wall that looks like a castle?! They do have many hibachi tables, none that were being used for lunch, and very few tables/booths for a sit down meal, all which were full. In the center, on a raised circular platform, is the sushi bar with three chefs surrounded by chairs, also empty. The most important part, the food, unfortunately the sushi was ok and the Marcie Sweetie roll, same one I had at Kenji was less than ok, way too much garlic. Service was good. Absolutely no reason to return.

                  1. re: shabbystorm
                    k
                    kelvinleesin Aug 24, 2009 11:52 AM

                    I disagree with your poor first impression. Fusion 2 has not advertised that it is open for lunches, so as a brand new restaurant it is expected that lunches would start off slowly. I was there for dinner and witnessed the rising popularity of the cuisine and atmosphere, especially the raw bar which is exceptional. My favorite was the live sashimi; it is hard to find a place that can master this form of sashimi. I saw many familiar faces that I have seen at the first restaurant, Kenji Fusion, and was glad to see the customers still being loyal. This new hibachi steakhouse was a breath of fresh air compared to many other hibachi restaurants in our area, and I had a very lovely experience!

                    1. re: kelvinleesin
                      shabbystorm Aug 24, 2009 01:21 PM

                      That is the great thing about Chowhound, everyone can document their own experience, and then others can use that information to make informed decisions.

                      Always feel funny when people agree or disagree with me personally, just like sharing my adventures with others who enjoy food.

                      Happy that you had a great experience and thank you for posting so I knew this place was open. I love sushi!

                    2. re: shabbystorm
                      njfoodies Oct 13, 2009 04:42 AM

                      Shabbystorm: I'm sorry to hear that you had a not so great experience at Fusion II. Like you said below, that is the beauty of Chowhound, so here are a few of my comments.

                      As far as the menu being similar, which menu are you refering to? Ths sushi menu? If that is the case, then yes, I will agree that it is similar, but I think that saying the entire menu is identical is giving people the wrong impression. I actually went over there for takeout Tuesday night, and upon looking at the menu, I had to run over to the opriginal Kenji's because the menu was so different, and I couldn't figure out exactly what my wife would have enjoyed. Lots of new and exciting entrees, and nothing like "General Tso" chicken or anything like that. I think that the new menu is fabulous, and there are lots of things I look forward to trying.

                      Back to the sushi: definitely go back there at night. The sushi chef was hired from Nobu, and the guy has some serious talent. Check out my review below. I went back for lunch yesterday, and asked the guy at the sushi bar if he knew how to make some of the things that we had on Saturday night, and he did not. That said, he saves his big gun to work dinner, and it's worth the visit for dinner. The pieces he made for us were absolutely amazing....and on the house! =)

                      They do have a lot of hibachi tables, and at lunch yesterday, there was only one being used. They have 4 down the left wall, one in the back left private dining room, as well as 2 at the sushi bar. Definitely more than enough for lunch, but on Saturday night they were using every single one of them, with the exception of the one in the private room, but I didn't go back there to look, so it may have been in use.

                      I'll agree that once this place catches on they are going to need more tables, but thankfully they have room to add a few I think. There seems to be a lot of space back there, and squeezing a few more 2 and 4 tops would make sense to me.

                      As for the decor, some might think that it's over the top for our area, but to me, I think it it's great. It brings a little "big city Fusion to the 'burbs" in my opinion. I do like the stacked stone, and I think it all goes with the decor and the stone, fire, water, Asian blah blah blah theme. I think it works, but again, this is not the typical decor you'll see in our area.

                      I guess I really don't know for sure what the place looked like when you first went, but after visiting yesterday and this past weekend, I can say that I am very pleased! Love the place, and look forward to going back!

                      Give it a try for dinner one night, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. Maybe we can get some other Chowhounds over there too, have a nice dinner, nice chat, and some good vino! Cheers! -mJ

                2. njfoodies Oct 11, 2009 07:10 PM

                  Finally made itover to usion II, which is Kenji's Fusion's new sister restaurant, and it was amazing! Please check out the review below, or at: http://jerseyfoodies.blogspot.com/ Look forward to going back soon with friends! Please read below! Cheers! -mJ

                  What is there to say other than “WOW” about the new venture at Fusion II in Hamilton, NJ! We have visited Kenji’s Fusion on Route 33 in Hamilton on multiple occasions , and this is an incredible new venture from the same owner…and he did it up with style and class!

                  Fusion II is located in the new shopping center in Hamilton off of Route 130, and absolutely no expense was spared to get this establishment up and running. Upon walking in, the first thing you will notice is the swanky, elevated sushi bar “in the round.” This is the focal point up the restaurant, surrounded by lighting, that goes from about 10 feet above the bar to the floor. The lighting also has a water feature installed, where the water drips down the length of the lights. This is a gorgeous feature, and took careful planning to make this look incredible.

                  The restaurant itself has so many gorgeous features other than the sushi bar, from the painted black ceilings, to the stainless steel features on the walls, to the multi colored lighting, to the back stone wall with built in cubbies, etc, etc. Absolutely no expense was spared on making this place look amazing! I actually stopped in on Tuesday evening for takeout, but ended up going to their first location as we were craving some dishes off of their original menu. I got a grand tour of the place then, and had to bring Zelda back to see it for herself.

                  The hibachi tables occupy the entire left side of the restaurant, with 4 in a row down the wall, that is adorned with blue lighting and a nice stainless steel ripple effect. In the back left hand corner of there restaurant, there is a private room with yet another hibachi table for private parties. This would be a great location to do a nice offline wine tasting!

                  The hibachi tables are gorgeous, with nice lighting and huge stainless steel fume hoods. The counters on the tables are a nice, dark, laminated wood, and look fabulous. One thing I really like about the tables is the fact that they are not close together, and you do not feel crowded with another table right at your back. The tables and chairs were very comfortable, and there is no overcrowding to say the least. You can probably fit 10-12 comfortably at these tables.

                  The menu is very diverse, entrees ranging from French, to Brazilian with some Asian Fusion flair! Tonight, we opted to sit at the hibachi tables, to give their hibachi a whirl. Next time we will shoot for eating off of their menu, to give their talented chef a shot at wowing us!

                  One of the things we obviously love about Fusion II, as well as the original Kenji’s Fusion is the fact that it is BYOB. In these economic times, BYO is such a great option, especially when you have a 500 bottle cellar that is bulging at the seams! As we usually due when dining on Asian cuisine, I grabbed a pinot noir, a 2005 Alma Rosa La Encantada pinot noir to be exact. Regardless, the menu would be very accommodating to a wide array of wines, especially a nice Riesling or sauvignon blanc.

                  The owner spent much time with us when we first sat down, telling us all about the construction process and materials he used for the restaurant. He also gave us a history of his new chef, as well as his sushi chef with a very impressive resume, and oodles of creativity. He actually hired his sushi chef from Nobu New York, and he is coming up with some new and exciting dishes that we have never seen before.

                  Tonight, Zelda opted for a staple, and ordered the chicken teriyaki. I on the other hand went out of my norm and went for the scallops and shrimp. We both opted for the mushroom soup, which is included with your dinner, and it was not to disappoint. The broth for this soup is wonderful, and the thinly shaved shallot and green onion compliment the paper thin mushroom nicely. The pinot noir really complimented the soup nicely as well.

                  Next out was the typical Asian salad, but the ginger dressing here could be the best that I have ever had. The salad was the perfect size, the lettuce was cold, and the dressing was very cold. The salad was vibrant and full of flavor, and what a treat it was!

                  From here, the owner sent over one of his sushi chefs new creations. This was a nice yellow tail tuna, garnished with a citrus sauce, thin sliced jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. He brought it over and presented it to us, and told us exactly how to eat, with a small piece of cilantro with every bite. All I can say is awesome! The fish was very fresh and delicious, and the flavors exploded in your mouth. I wish I knew where he was purchasing his fish from, because this is some of the best we have ever had.

                  During this same time the hibachi chef was doing his show, and you can tell that they are well practiced. Zelda has actually seen them out in the back of their restaurant practicing their moves before shift, and they try to wow you just like anywhere else you will go. First off the grill was my fried rice, which had nice flavors of garlic and spice. At the same time he was preparing the vegetables and a few pieces of shrimp for the table. And of course, in true hibachi style, then were flipping veggies to you to try to catch in your mouth, all to be washed down by some sake. Is that such a bad thing? =

                  )

                  The hibachi cooking continued, and off came my shrimp and scallops. They looked nice, and had a nice caramelization to them. Zelda’s chicken came off shortly after, and this too was cooked very nicely. Some will say that hibachi is hibachi no matter where you go. To a point, I will agree with this, but this really hit the spot. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and there was no toughness to them whatsoever. The scallops too were grilled up very nicely, and they were very nice and tender, and clean. There was no grittiness to them at all, and they were sweet and succulent. Hibachi definitely did not disappoint, and we were stuffed to the gills with all of the food.

                  Yet, we still were not done yet as the sushi chef came over yet once again, with a final “mini boat” of sushi for each of us. Yikes! Do we really have any room left? Absolutely not, but you know this will not go to waste! First up was a tuna with a tofu sauce. At first, I wasn’t sure that I would be crazy about this, but it turned out to be amazing. The tuna was fresh, and the tofu sauce was delicious! I am not a big fan of tofu, but whatever he used to make this sauce was fabulous, and I would definitely eat it again. Next up was salmon and tomato, with yet another amazing piece of fish, and beautiful tomato. These complimented each other very nicely, and it was a treat. Next up was an eel with avocado. I wish I knew for sure what was in here, but there was some kind of chopped nuts perhaps, and a nice smokiness and sweetness to it. I am not a big fan of eel, but this opened my eyes to just how tasty eel can be. Gorgeous! Next was tuna with an onion sauce, and yet another amazing cut of fish, and a sauce that could be eaten by itself. This was my second favorite. My favorite however had to be the wagyu beef. This was shaved thing and lightly grilled with some awesome flavors. The dab of wasabi on top made this delectable! Finally, the last was a palate cleanser with a piece of cucumber, and a dab of a soy mixture that was very refreshing, and left our palates clean and refreshed. This was a nice touch.

                  Next course should have been dessert, but at this point you couldn’t have shoved anything else down our throats, so we will have to take them up on dessert the next time. The dessert menu does however feature some good looking dishes, from bananas foster to tempura ice cream, and I for one am looking forward to it.

                  All in all, I have nothing to say other than incredible! As Zelda stated, we were treated like the Rockefeller’s tonight with amazing service, great food, and a whole lot of comps for us to try. The place is gorgeous, swanky, and just what this area needs. I think that once word gets out on the talented sushi chef and modern atmosphere, people will be coming from all around to experience the real deal for themselves. Kudos to Fusion II on taking an over the top risk with this place. It will definitely pay off in the long run! Cheers!

                  FUSION 2
                  553 Route 130, Suite 320
                  Hamilton, NJ 08691
                  http://kenjifusion.com/

                  Phone: 609.581.7888
                  Fax: 609.785.0010

                  Hours:
                  Mon-Sat 11:00am - 3:00pm
                  Mon-Thurs 4:30pm - 10:00pm

                  Fri & Sat 4:30pm - 10:30pm
                  Sunday Noon - 9:30pm

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