Sono Sushi (Middletown, NJ)

Sono is not “Asian Fusion”. It is Japanese. It is sushi. And thank God for that. A place that knows its identity and strives hards toward that craft. This was another place that had garnered rave reviews from some of our friends, and not feeling like driving to Nemo in Keyport (our usual fix for sushi and sashimi), we opted to finally give it a try. Sono Sushi is in the middle of a shopping center, yet when you enter, it somehow feels secluded. There is a front window, but it is practically covered. The traditional decor and dim lighting makes it almost like a hidden secret…until you walk in a see the massive crowd that has discovered it before you.

Shrimp Shumai

Justin had wanted to take me for sushi at a different restaurant for a while now. But sometimes, I go to a place like this for sushi and end up getting distracted and order a hot meal. I did not allow that to happen here. We were both in the mood for a roll. We browsed the menu and our eyes wandered to the appetizers first. “You love soft shell crabs, right?” he asked me. “Damn right I do” was my response. There was a deep-fried tempura soft shell crab on the menu. We decided we would share that. Upon ordering, he also snuck in a shrimp shumai.

M-16 Roll

My entree would be the M-16 roll, which was large and cut into eight pieces. The interior contained tempura salmon and asparagus, and was topped with raw salmon and spicy mayo. Both fishes were masterfully sliced and prepared to the point that they melted away in my mouth. The sauce on top had just enough spice to let you know it was there. I had considered a combo with multiple rolls, but found this single one to be plenty and I was glad I restrained myself. Justin had the Sono Delight roll, which was stuffed with tempura shrimp and had slices of avocado and grilled eel placed on top. This was only the second or third time trying eel, and I found this experience to be the most enjoyable. Both rolls were delicately created and extremely fresh. There was no fishiness present anywhere. The meals came with miso soup and a salad with a highly acidic (yet necessary) ginger dressing.

Sono Delight

Let’s back-track to the appetizers: the shumai were decent, but not exactly standout. I thought the flavor was pretty average, though the texture and mouth-feel was spot-on. I’ve had better. The soft shell crab, however, won me over. It was fried so crisply that it practically crumbled apart. It was also rather large and meaty—I remember saying how surprised I was at the weight of this crab, and that it was not small and hollow as some are when served this way. For a single person, this might have been a meal along with some rice.

Soft Shell Crab

Our server was very friendly and seemed to know some of the other customers who were apparently regulars. There is a sushi bar to sit at, along with an open table area by the front door, and another seating area with barriers towards the back. This place had a “city-feel” going for it, and there was a nice buzz in the air. Quality-wise, I would be hard-pressed to find better ingredients in the immediate area for a sushi spot. And there are a lot of places to search—eight, actually, within just a five-mile radius. There are more than enough fusion restaurants around, but it was nice to see a place stick to one thing and one thing only: serving excellent Japanese food. Don’t miss Sono Sushi, located in the same shopping center as Neelam Exotic Indian Cuisine and Bottle King…arguably two of my favorite places! 4 out of 5 stars.

(Apologies for the less-than-stellar photographs—the dim lighting and shadows made it difficult to capture these dishes).

Sono Sushi is located at 1098 NJ-35 in Middletown, NJ.

This review originally posted here on my food blog.


Nice review. Always happy to hear about good sushi spots.
J and m bakery in that same plaza is also better than average. Was our go to spot before Alfansos came to town. With fiorentinos also that plaza has a ton of spots going for it.

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J and M is pretty good. I’ve had some excellent desserts there, and a few mediocre ones. But I guess that’s the same for most bakeries around here.

We love Sono. They are always awesome with our kid and I’m constantly impressed that the staff knows nearly everyone by name.


Sono has been the best in that area for a long time. Glad you enjoyed!


I will have to try it. I have not found the ‘perfect’ sushi spot since OSHO closed and Dave the Shushi Chef moved on.

agreed on that- but it was best Italian bakery by far close to us. The non-Italian stuff tends to be very hit or miss. And with all spots like this (Alfonsos included) sometimes yet get something not terribly fresh and it’s evident immediately. Both are still 5,000X better than the sh%thole that was the cake boss btw…

I only go for their Italian cookies, those are the best in the area. The rest of the deserts don’t really interest me, I prefer Alfonso’s in Red Bank for that, much closer too.


Yes, their cookies are great. I have also enjoyed their mini (and I mean mini) carrot cakes.

Before moving slightly down 35, I used to go to Normandy in Hazlet frequently. Great pastries and cookies, but was not a fan of their cakes.

Aside from Antoinette in Red Bank, I’ve yet to experience a bakery that can do it all. But I have not yet been to Alfonso’s.

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The cakes at Cravings in Allenhurst are excellent; that’s the go-to for numerous friends in the area, and every time I have something from there, I understand why.

Sono is one of my favorites as well! Try their salmon tataki appetizer, it’s great!

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Went here last night. The food is super consistent but they do such a tremendous takeout business that it definitely is impacting how long food takes to hit the table. It won’t stop us from coming but an observation we have noticed several times.

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Good to know. Am going tomorrow for an early dinner… Really looking forward to it

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My husband was trying to do projections on how much they must be pulling in (gross not net) based on the phone volume LOL!

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Well I finally went. And I needed time to get my thoughts in order… Ultimately, it never reached the pinnacle that, in my mind, OSHO had both in personal service, quality of fish, and simplicity of technique and sushi focus.

I was first struck when we arrived by how clean and friendly it was, and how over half of the bustle was takeout…

We started with an abundance of appetizers to get a sense of the atmosphere…

The Salmon Tataki was superb. Perfectly sliced and with just the right amount of sauce. This was perhaps the star of the night.

We also had the Gyoza… Again very nice but just a bit more spice would have been nice. I enjoyed the umami, but missed that tiny bit of punch. Still worth it.

The edamame were good but lacked that extra saltiness I would have expected, but that is something of a personal preference. And then came the Rock Shrimp. This was on OSHO specialty and I was very disappointed at the Sono version. While the Shrimp were perfectly cooked, they had little spice and flavor of their own. And the bread was not crispy nor flavorful. The entire dish revolved around the sauce which was lacking in punch and was over dressed.

We then ordered a large amount of Sushi since we wanted to sample everything… Even though we knew there would be leftovers… And we found some dynamite rolls and some just good rolls.

To the left is the Incredible Roll, then the Crawfish Roll, and to the right the Hot Crunchy Crab. Way too match Krab and not nearly enough real crab to make the Incredible Roll incredible. It was just way over done. A little Krab goes a long way. And I would have thought the Hot Crunchy Crab would have been real crab but it too was not. It had the right amount of Krab so it wasn’t overwhelming, but it was lackluster at best. Then, with trepidation we tried the Crawfish Roll. Stunning. Wonderful spicy flavor and the crawfish was clearly able to take the starring role.

Second course then arrived… Middletown Roll

This time it was real Crab and deliciously smoked eel. And it would have been perfect where it not for an overwhelming chunk of avocado which took over the flavor profile. Though when removed left a wonderful roll.

And finally the third course… Soft Shell, New York, and Sono Delight Rolls.

The Sono Delight was just that, delightful with an excellent melding of flavors. Another winner. The New York was also very good with the unique flavor of Apple and Salmon. Very good but an acquired taste. And then the Soft Shell. Sigh. Once again the avocado dwarfed every other flavor out - notice the huge hunk on the one piece…

Was it overall enjoyable? Yes. Will I go back? Yes but I will be more careful with what we order… And the pricing was a tad high. All in all, I will stick with the 3 roll lunch special at Kyoto. Not as fancy, and not as focused, but the fish is fresh and the bang for the buck is much better.


+1 on Kyoto too

Thanks for the report.

If you go back to Sono I would recommend sitting at the bar and talking to the chef. They are one of the only places in our area where the chef is actually happy to talk to you and you can do things like ask for belly/fatty cuts on salmon and yellowtail. I personally stick with nigiri here (and the amazing salmon tataki) because I feel like some of the nuance is lost when you’re having a roll with a bunch of ingredients in it.


Much like I used to do at OSHO… Dave, the Sushi Chef would always chat. Even if you were at a table… That is what made it so special