Vol. LXV, No. 36
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
DINING OUT: Its wonderful when people come up and compliment us on our food and say how much they enjoy it, comments Chris Cheng. He and his father John Cheng opened the new TUSK restaurant on Route 206 on Memorial Day weekend. Shown in the photo is hostess Colleen Ridder.
The reviews are in, and they are good!
Food critics and the public alike are enthusiastic about TUSK, the new restaurant at 1736 Route 206 South in Montgomery.
Were an American bistro, with world/fusion cuisine. Some Asian, some Italian, some American, says co-owner Chris Cheng. We wanted to be eclectic and inclusive. We have also made a point of being moderately priced. We want people to be able to afford a nice lunch or dinner out.
In case you are wondering about the name, TUSK, you are not alone. The question comes up often, notes Mr. Cheng. If you think of elephants, you are not wrong.
My dad and his attorney were on a trip to Thailand, and they happened to see elephants. The name TUSK just seemed right, says Mr. Cheng, who owns the restaurant with his father, John Cheng.
Unusual, yet familiar. People definitely remember the name, and they remember what they like about the food and the atmosphere.
Warm and Attractive
The restaurant is large and spacious, seating 200 to 225 people, with a private party room, large bar area, and charming elevated patio for outdoor dining. A special new lounge, with separate bar, is expected to be ready in September.
We planned the decor ourselves, reports Mr. Cheng, noting the dark wood of the tables and the shades of brown and beige, which predominate throughout the restaurant. We wanted it to be warm and attractive.
Mr. Cheng and his father have a history in the restaurant business, and they look forward to bringing their expertise to the Princeton area. My grandfather owned the biggest Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in New York, and my father had Rain Forest, a Continental restaurant in East Brunswick. With our background, we know the restaurant business. We know how to make the restaurant work, and we know whats good and whats not good. And especially, we emphasize fair pricing. We make a point to offer good food at fair prices. That way, people can come more often.
Another thing that is very important is to have consistency with the food, so that when people order a dish again, it will be what they expected.
Customers are enjoying a wide variety of items on the eclectic menu, he says. Pasta is very popular, and potato gnocchi is a real favorite. Also, lobster rolls are in demand as an appetizer and also as a sandwich for lunch.
The Peanut Thai Popsicle, with gilled chicken, chopped peanuts, scallions, and coconut fused peanut satay is a real favorite both for kids and adults, he adds, and the calamari fritti, with crispy calamari, jalapenos, banana peppers, and a sweet and sour orange honey dipping sauce is another popular choice.
The vegan trio, including white bean hummus, pico de gallo, guacamole, and grilled lavash, is especially appealing to vegans and vegetarians, adds Mr. Cheng.
The restaurants raw bar has been a big hit, offering oysters, clams on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, king crab legs, tuna carpaccio, and seafood samplers (a half lobster, three clams, three oysters, three shrimp, and king crab leg).
The restaurant regularly has fish specials, such as yellow fin tuna, pan-seared prawns (prawns, crushed cashews, saffron rice, Mandarin orange teriyaki sauce), and king crab legs (one pound steamed jumbo crab legs, roasted Yukon potatoes, sweet drawn butter, and vegetable medley du jour).
In addition, dinner entrees include New York strip steak, petite filet, pomodoro chicken parmesan, veal martini (in lemon brandy butter sauce), spicy jambalaya (large gulf shrimp, okra, andouille sausage, braised leeks, and jasmine rice), as well as the favorite Wagyu meatloaf (ground Kobe-type beef from Australia, applewood bacon, shitake mushroom demi glace, creamy Yukon potatoes, glace with baby carrots).
The variety of salads includes Caesar, TUSK steak, Texas black bean, blood orange beet, and chipotle chicken bowl, among others.
Two soups are always available, including the popular French onion au gratin. We get reports from our customers that our French onion soup is the best around, says Mr. Cheng.
Salads and sandwiches are lunch favorites, with sandwiches including everything from garden vegetable wrap to cheese steak to buffalo chicken roll to turkey Cobb club to the classic all-American hamburger.
Kids specials (for ages 12 and under), priced at $6, offer Captain Crunch chicken, spaghetti and meat balls, Fish n Chips, and cheese burgers, among others.
Other prices include pasta from $13, entrees from $15, and burgers at $7. Appetizers start at $6. When dining out, not many people forego dessert, and TUSK offers many delicious options, such as chocolate mousse cake, creme brulee, apple crisp, seasonal fruit, and the popular cinnamon tempura.
Sunday brunch has recently been introduced, and that has become a favorite among many customers. Such choices as waffles, French toast (in assorted varieties), pancakes, omelets, eggs Benedict, and more are all available.
We are very happy with the response in a short time, notes Mr. Cheng. Were getting people from all over the area, lots of families, and lots of repeat customers. Business has been better this summer than we had expected. We are still new and feeling our way, but we are very encouraged.
TUSK is open seven days. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch), 4 to 10 (dinner); Friday, Saturday 11 to 3, 4 to 11, bar until 2 a.m.; Sunday 10 to 2, and 4 to 9. (908) 829-3417. Website: www.tuskrestaurant.com.
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