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Review: Thelonious Monkfish

Central Square has been somewhat of a sushi desert, forcing Cambrigdeportians, Area IV inhabitants and the neighborhood’s workday denizens into territories as far-flung as North Cambridge or (gasp!) across the river.

Enter Thelonious Monkfish, with its classy digs, expansive Asian fusion menu and chipper staff inexplicably clad in Canadian tuxedos (that’d be denim on denim). 

Surprisingly sunny during the day, the space is outfitted in blond wood, red walls and sconces that kinda look like blowfish. The restaurant’s “jazz for your palate” theme (named for the legendary bebop pianist) is felt both in the jazz music softly pumping out of the speakers and in the curiously-named menu items.

Our favorite sushi roll is the Mack the Knife Maki ($6.50), a crispy, spicy combo of yellowtail, cucumber and scallion with a dash of chili sauce. The Regattabar roll ($6.50), while a welcome shout-out to the Cambridge jazz institution, featured a disappointingly small portion of salmon in relation to the cucumber, lettuce, avocado and tobiko.

Across the board, the food is fresh, reasonably priced and served up super fast—even the stuff that requires cooking—making this place a great lunch spot. Those looking for a little extra midday relaxation may be disappointed: no sake or scorpion bowls here—yet. The management promised us they’re working on a liquor license.

Cheat Sheet


Eat this: Don’t miss the Donburi section on the back of the sushi menu. We opted for the Tekka Don—a cereal-sized bowl of impeccably-sliced raw tuna over a bed of sweetly seasoned rice.  It’s perfectly portioned and delicately flavored.

Drink this: While Thelonious Monkfish didn’t yet have all the teas on their list, we’d still recommend ordering one that is in stock. Your tea comes in a refreshingly large mug, and the waitstaff will give you free hot water top-offs as necessary throughout your meal.

Sit here: Go authentic and ask to sit on the Tatami-matted chair-free zone.

Conversation piece: See who can distinguish actual jazz references from other random pop culture tidbits on the menu (hint: Gaga’s Monster Roll is not a jazz reference).

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The residents of Cambridge are called Cantabrigians.
By Joanne (not verified) on 1/21/2012 at 4:53 pm
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