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      THE MAIN COURSE

       By Mitch Davis

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Bonjung

50 W. Third Ave., Collegeville Station, Collegeville

  

Phone:  610-489-7022                                     Website: www.bonjungsushi.com


Cuisine:
  Japanese, including sushi, nabe, hibachi, teriyaki, etc.; with a few Korean
specialties like Bi Bim Bap and Bul Go Gi.

 

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30  p.m. Mon - SatDinner, Mon ?Thu 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Fri - Sat 4:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Sun 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 

Entr? Prices:  Lunch, $6 to $15.50, Bento boxes $8.   

Dinner, $9.50 to $35, avg. $15.
 

Ambiance:  Spacious, but not cavernous, the high ceilings lowered with drapery. Beautiful ingenious lighting everywhere. Tranquil, low noise level.  Tastefully decorated.
 

Reservations:  Yes                                                      Credit Cards:  All major

Alcoholic Bevs:  BYOB.                      Smoking/Non smoking: Non-smoking

Special Features:  Complete 5-course "combo dinners" $25 to $29.  Kids 밄ento" menu $7.50

 

             If this column had a headline it would be: "Authentic, upscale Asian cuisine finally comes to Collegeville." It has been long overdue in this area.  The opening of the magnificent Bonjung (which means 뱋riginal and true, love and heart") in the refurbished Collegeville Station building, may have made the long wait entirely worthwhile.  This very attractively designed and furnished Japanese & Korean restaurant, which just opened last month, has the makings of becoming a shining light on the area뭩 somewhat moribund restaurant scene.  (Happily, I think this is starting to change).

             For a first time restaurant owner, Gregory Shin (born in Korea), a successful computer engineer, has made a surprising number of very smart moves, and had a measure good luck in launching Bonjung, satisfying a longtime dream.  He leased a great space to house the restaurant, in a convenient location with ample parking, and luckily married a woman, Christine, with excellent interior design and decorating talent, who made the inside rather beautiful and comfortable.  He is also lucky enough to have an older brother, Leo, an experienced chef, who  manages the kitchen; and a sister, Nani, who does TV marketing for A & E, who is handling publicity for the restaurant.  Bonjung has already gotten good publicity and good reviews here in The Trend and in other local papers, and also in The Inquirer.  Most important of all, Shin had the good sense to hire two skilled sushi chefs, the experienced master Yonemoto, better known as simply Yone-san (Zen, Genji), and the up-and-coming Fukuzaki (Genji), who were both ?to Shin뭩 good fortune ?available.

             On our arrival 6:30 on a Friday night, only a few tables and seats at the sushi bar were filled.  By 7:30, it was 90% filled, and yet the noise level was unusually low, perhaps the benefit of the attractive drapery-lowered ceiling.  Other eye-pleasers are a backlit wall of bamboo and a stunning, surprisingly large scarlet kimono commanding the back wall.

             All of the usual preliminaries of a Japanese dinner were outstanding: wonderfully light ebi shumai (shrimp dumplings, $5.50), miso soup, salad w/ ginger dressing, a very fine, large portion of seaweed salad ($4), and excellent hot green tea.  The first three are the starting dishes of the five-course 밪pecial Combo Dinners" (each enough for two), which I highly recommend.  There are three to chose from ranging from $25 to $29.  The 밅hiku"  combination dinner which we chose featured a sushi main course of six pieces of velvety tuna, yellowtail, and salmon sashimi, and a quality California maki roll; and a second pair of entr?s  flaky fresh salmon teriyaki and beef negimaki (marinated sliced steak wrapped around scallion), served with boiled rice.  And still to come was a very pleasant dessert of mochi ice cream, a ball of rich ice cream wrapped in sweet rice dough.

             I had wanted to try an Udon (hot pot) dish, so I also ordered the Tempura Udon ($10.50).  It was a huge bowl of thick soba noodles in clear broth perfect for a cold night, with jumbo shrimp & vegetable tempura (batter-fried) on the side.  The udon dishes make for a complete lunch in themselves, and at lunchtime are only $7 or $8.

             Our attentive young Japanese server, Raina, could not do enough to please us, and intelligently brought out each of the many courses in exactly the proper (and our preferred) order without any instructions.

We were nearly finished when our friends, Joe & Diane, who are veteran sushi aficionados, arrived and ordered some of Yone-san뭩 specials, moving to the 10-seat sushi bar. They loved his ceviche, a mixture of marinated fresh fish in a tomato sauce with cilantro and the heat of some red pepper a unique dish for a Japanese restaurant. Their Spanish mackerel was served lightly seared, the medium toro (belly tuna), a richer version than the regular tuna, was melt-in-the mouth wonderful we had some too, and the abalone, another rare offering, had a pleasant "crunch" to it, like good abalone should.

 

Overall Rating:  mmmm  (out of 5 m뭩)  Excellent (밪uburashi desu-yo!")

To contact Mitch Davis, you can e-mail him at: MdavisMainCourse@aol.com

 

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W 3rd Ave & Walnut St (50 Third Ave), 
Collegeville Station #220, Collegeville, PA 19426

610.489.7022 (b)                                       610.489.7023 (f)
Copyright (c) 2005 Bonjung Japanese Restaurant, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.