When it comes to great sushi, thoughts of tropical locales and the most popular large city sushi restaurants come to mind, not the Jersey Shore.
While there are plenty of sub par sushi places scattered along our coast, for real sushi, not pre-made rolls or frozen fish, I highly recommend Kotta in Belmar.
Kotta is considered and marketed as a Japanese Asian Fusion eatery with a menu full of sushi, stir-frys, surf and turf and tempura.
Unlike many places to get sushi, Kotta's rolls taste fresh, not fishy. The freshness and quality of ingredients are evident at first bite.
My most recent visit found myself and a group of friends ordering a massive amount of food.
For the table, we had edamame – a standard starter at a sushi spot. Most places don't make it salty enough for my taste. Kotta uses fresh sea salt that flavors it perfectly. I also had miso soup and a sea weed salad. The miso soup was pretty on par with any other place. The seaweed salad however, was amazing. The sesame and sugar combination was just right— not too sweet but not too bland either with just enough soy sauce.
For my main course, I had three of their specialty rolls.
First was the Volcano Roll. It consists of Eel, crab stick, tamago and avocado, which are batter-fried and served with Kottas chef's special sauce. The combination of the softness of the avocado along with the fried crunchiness sold me. It practically melts in your mouth. I did not care for eel previously, but decided to try it anyway. I am now an eel fan. The eel and crab stick taste is unmistakably refreshing.
Next, I had a Spiderman Roll. Consisting of soft-shell crab tempura, cucumber, mango and avocado and again, served with Kotta's special sauce. While I am not normally a fan of mixing fruit with any kind of dinner, I decided I was feeling bold and went for it. This roll was not exactly for me, but anyone who like pineapple on pizza would die for this. The mango gives it a sweet, tropical taste with the crunch of a soft shell crab roll. The avocado and cucumber aspect was great— I want to request this on other rolls.
Last, I had an Angry Lobster Roll. I am obviously a fan of the crunch of tempura and the fried aspect of sushi. This roll consists of lobster tempura, lettuce, avocado, cucumber, soy bean-paper and yet again, the chef's special sauce.
This roll however was my favorite. The lettuce, avocado and cucumber make it crisp and cool. Mix that with the crunch of the tempura and the mouth-watering lobster and you've got an amazing combination.
The food here is absolutely amazing. The service is wonderful and accepting as well. The staff always greets guests with a huge smile and unmistakable friendliness.
The ambiance is pretty standard for a sushi or Asian eatery. The room is not heavily decorated and fit to accommodate a modest amount of people. They offer half booth half table seats, tables and high seats at the sushi bar. All of the seating and tables are dark wood, fitting of a sushi place.
It is a sophisticated, nice dining experience. The pricing is standard— about $13 to $17 for specialty rolls, $4 to $9 for regular rolls and average priced appetizers.
If you are look for great sushi at a decent price with a great friendly atmosphere and nice ambiance, I strongly recommend Kotta. Check out their full menu here.