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Asian restaurant lacks consistency in service, not sushi

By Sara Kay, Assistant Features Editor

The atmosphere inside Mumon in Garden City, which opened in January of 2009, is incredibly peaceful.  Almost uncomfortably quiet, but it has enough movement around it that it doesn't feel like being inside a raw fish cave.  This trendy environment, although mildly enjoyable at face value, has some issues that go far beyond the interior decorating.  

A dinner at Mumon is like going on a first date.  The excitement of something new and different is what pulls you there in the first place. That first date is what you want to remember as you prepare for the second date; the perfection, the comfort, the warmth.  However, the second date is never as good as the first date. 

My first dinner at Mumon was incredibly enjoyable and everything was timeless, but the second dinner paled in comparison.

Everything inside is very sleek; the colors are mostly dark browns and reds, with a few bright spots here and there.  

On our first visit, we walked in to an empty house, and our table of four was one of the few parties to be sat in the almost two hour time we were there.  To welcome us into the meal was an amuse bouche; a small, one bite wonder to prepare our palettes what was to come.  On this night, it was a simmered salmon in a teriyaki sauce.  Although good flavors were present, the consistency was similar to that of dog food, mushy and unappetizing. 

To start, there was lobster risotto in a creamy sauce with dried pasta to add a crunch to the smoothness of the dish.  The lobster was well cooked along with the rice, and I found myself wishing that the portion was bigger so I could enjoy more of the decadent cream sauce.  There were also shrimp and mango spring rolls, a light and flavorful dish that came with a sweet sauce and a savory sauce to represent the contrasting flavors. The miso soup, which seems almost impossible to mess up, had its flaws.  To go outside the box, I ordered the miso soup with little neck clams instead of the tofu.  My desire to have the tofu instead took place when I was breaking through each clam with my tiny fork.

The sushi changed the pace of the meal from so-so to above average.  The salmon lovers roll, filled with salmon and avocado and topped with a piece of torched salmon, ikura and crème fraiche, were layers of creamy and savory flavors, resulting in the perfectly textured and delicious bite. The typical tuna roll, salmon roll and shrimp roll were all enjoyable, nothing too out of the ordinary.  First date, done.  Enjoyable, delicious, hoping date number two will be just as good.

On second visit to Mumon, it was as if everything had changed. The service, while fast and cheery the first time, was slow and sloppy.  The amuse bouche was a cold Chilean sea bass salad on a cucumber slice, that had the consistency of the tuna that comes in a sealed plastic baggie, and tasted like it too. 

Our starters would have been vegetable tempura and pork shumai, but the server neglected to bring those out until almost the end of the meal.The chicken teriyaki, although accompanied by crunchy broccoli and delicious hand-cut potatoes, was painfully dry and drenched in a sauce that if it were any sweeter, could accompany a dessert.  The sushi remained consistent, fresh fish accompanied by soft and sticky rice with bright and flavorful vegetables.  Second date, thankfully, done; sub-par, full of missteps, something not worth remembering.

While the sushi aspect of Mumon is something to go back for again and again, other aspects of the restaurant seem to fluctuate uncomfortably.  The environment is good and the price is definitely right, but something about this place needs a swift pick-me-up.  Maybe the third date will be stellar, or maybe it will go nowhere, but Mumon has the potential to turn something iffy into something extraordinary.

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