Sushi is an event in itself. Watch the chef create a roll with artistry and precision, admire the beautiful presentation on your plate and, finally, enjoy the delicious combinations of flavors and textures. With so much to tempt the eye and the palate, sushi restaurants offer distinctive settings for events. Consider these eateries for sushi offerings to accent your next gathering.
Red Ginger, Traverse City
Red Ginger is located next to the historic State Theater downtown. Inside you’ll find exposed brick walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and an eye-catching polished wood bar. Red Ginger’s Lotus Rooms overlook Front Street and can seat up to 48 with a combination of two rooms. The RG Studio features an open-air balcony with a view of the downtown skyline and offers private parties of up to 50 guests the opportunity to enjoy sushi rolling demonstrations and tastings with in-house sushi chefs.
To complement a sushi menu, try the Red Dragon martini, a cocktail with an Asian twist of lemongrass and pomegranate. The menu also includes hearty entrees like Mongolian lamb chops, so it’s easy to create a dining experience to suit any group’s tastes.
Melange, Ann Arbor
Melange is right at home amidst the chic boutiques and galleries on Main Street. “Melange means ‘a mixture,’” says Laura Wanke, catering director. “That mixture shows up in our décor, our drinks and our world-fusion cuisine.” The décor feels plush and refined with tall booths, rich upholstery and bamboo accents. A glass wine cellar is filled with more than 500 vintages that have been selected to pair with items on the menu.
Melange offers hand-rolled sushi courtesy of an in-house chef who has been perfecting his craft for more than 20 years. Several spaces are available for special events. The Private Dining Room can hold 40 guests and is VIP-ready with padded suede walls, media equipment and adjustable lighting to suit the mood. The Intimate Dining Room seats 10 people in a cozy alcove lined with silk curtains and a custom-made booth. For larger parties, the lounge can accommodate 70 guests with contemporary seating and mirrored walls.
Downtown Market, Grand Rapids
Downtown Market’s LEED-certified spaces are sleek and inviting, with blond wood floors and tall picture windows to show Grand Rapids at its best. The market is a full-service event space, with party-ready rooms to accommodate groups up to 250. The meeting rooms seat 12, the teaching kitchen can welcome groups of 30, the greenhouse can host as many as 150 and the banquet room can accommodate 250 cocktail-style or 175 seated.
Sarah Tupper, the market’s private events manager, can help you plan an interactive sushi rolling party, where your guests will get hands-on demonstrations in the state-of-theart teaching kitchen, rolling their own sushi at individual work stations while a camera gives everyone in the room a bird’s-eye view of the chef in action. After your group rolls its own sushi, tasting and comparing notes will be even more fun. Tupper is happy to arrange a sake bar or cocktails to complement the delicate flavors.
Mon Jin Lau, Troy
Mon Jin Lau has been in business since 1969, serving celebrity clientele like Madonna and the Rolling Stones. Inside, low lighting envelopes the long seated bar where guests can peruse the cocktail and sake list.
“We’re a swanky yet romantic restaurant,” says owner Brian Chin. Mon Jin Lau has two dining rooms, and the back room and garden room can be booked privately for 50 to 100 guests. During the summer, the patio area is wildly popular. The exposed brick building is covered with climbing vines of ivy, and café lights twinkle overhead. Plenty of modern lounge furniture invites guests to get comfortable and enjoy the evening air.
One of Chin’s favorite sushi offerings is the Salmon on the Beach roll, a spin on the California roll. The usual cucumber, cream cheese and avocado get a delicious upgrade when topped with salmon and flame-torched in a spicy honey sauce. For parties and meetings, Chin’s team will work with you to create a perfect spread. “We’ve been doing this for 46 years, and we pay particular attention to all the details,” he says.
Joe Muer Seafood, Detroit
Joe Muer Seafood is a classic, with black and white checkered marble floors in the lounge, a red velvet upholstered booth, white linen tablecloths and a patio overlooking the river. The Superior Room welcomes groups of 20, the Ship Room can seat up to 36 and the stunning Riverfront Dining Room can accommodate 125 guests. Seafood is the name of the game at Joe Muer, and that includes sushi. The signature Joe Muer Roll includes salmon, shrimp, avocado, cucumber, crab, kanpyo, tuna, spicy mayo and tempura crunch flakes.
Lindsay Ostin, Joe Muer’s events coordinator, has planned everything from black-tie events for the North American International Auto Show to Mother’s Day brunches. “We provide special menus that feature both old and new classics to please a variety of palates,” she says.