MOCAD café rolls out new sushi menu for art lovers

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

It’s been just about four months since the Museum of Contemporary Art introduced an interesting menu of sushi, sashimi and a few more Japanese specialties to replace what had been a more conventional café, though is still under the management of the two experienced restaurateurs, Marc Djozlija and Dave Kwiatkowski.

They brought in sushi chef Rob Lee, a transplant from Denver, who learned the craft — that is virtually an art — while recuperating from a snowboarding accident. Lee’s previous local post was at Townhouse, where he was discovered by Djozlija and Kwiatkowski.

The veggie roll is made with cucumber, avocado, tomato, basil, lettuce, beet, carrots, chia and sesame.

The high-ceiling space at MOCAD, the former garage, has roll-up outer doors and an appealing industrial setting that seems to suit the new menu well. And the restaurant’s name tells us that the proprietors want us to have fun with the new concept, which is evident in the name of one of the sushi rolls: All That And a Bag of Chips, in which our local Better Made potato chips team with spicy tuna, avocado and fish roe. It is one of 10 varieties of house rolls ranging from the traditional to the imaginative.

Don’t be misled by the potato chips. This is authentic sushi, not some pale imitation.

The All That and a Bag of Chips, a six-piece roll, is made with spicy tuna, avocado, yamagobo, masago, mango, chili, sesame and Better Made potato chips.

There’s much to like on the menu that starts off with the obligatory miso soup, and a very flavorful version of the classic bean paste broth it is, bright with little cubes of tofu. A nice little cucumber salad also sets the palate up for the fresh and appealing sushi and sashimi. The sliced raw fish (sashimi) may be had in such choices as salmon, tuna, yellowtail and eel.

Starting next week, Lee says he will unveil two hot dishes, ramen noodles with fish, duck stock and fennel, and gyudon (beef bowl), made with shaved beef, either ribeye or chuck, to add to the sushi/sashimi options.

The torched salmon, a two-piece Super Happy nigiri, is made with green bell pepper and a pineapple-mirin glaze.

On Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the chef and his two assistants roll out an expanded brunch menu that includes several choices of sushi and also such items as bagels in several varieties, typified by a garden bagel with egg, sauteed spinach, tomato and Swiss cheese.

Waffles are served either American style with berries and maple syrup, or Asian fashion with eel, avocado and green onion. There’s also a fruit plate for the non-sushi lovers who might be in the weekend crowd.

The no-nonsense setting with cement floors and well-spaced bare-topped tables under a soaring ceiling includes a well-stocked bar.

Chase Mendoza, left, and Elizabeth Cline partake in the high-ceiling dining space in the former garage.

The contemporary art showcased at this colorful Midtown museum now can be said to have a culinary counterpart. After all, what is more artistic than a beautifully constructed sushi roll?

Super Happy Sushi at Café 78

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD)

4454 Woodward, Detroit

Call: (313) 784-9636


Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon.-Tues.

Prices: Appetizers $4, nigiri (two pieces) $4-$9, sushi rolls $6-$14, sashimi $6-$15, brunch items $4-$13 (served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun.).

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Low

Parking: Attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good

★★1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent

★★★★ — outstanding