Robert Chambers Jr. first opened the joint in Homewood in the late 1980s and moved it to this roadside spot a decade ago.
The renovation of Market Square, Downtown, has made Munch's job easier.
Munch no longer has to trek to Lawrenceville or Mt. Lebanon to find a new restaurant to review. Munch now has the luxury of stumbling out of Office of Munch and right over to Market Square, where new restaurants seem to be opening weekly.
A recent addition is Sinobi To Go, a deli-style sushi joint just off the square. One sunny, warm November afternoon, Munch summoned Skinny Dad of Munch from the suburbs to join Munch for lunch.
SDOM arrived in Market Square, but he was perplexed by the parking situation. He parked his car in front of Dunkin Donuts and, noting that there was no meter, questioned Munch's assertion that the space was legal. Munch explained the newfangled (and often broken, in Munch's experience) parking machines. SDOM, prepared for expensive Downtown parking rates, produced a handful of quarters. After placing the receipt on the dashboard, Munch and SDOM were off to Sinobi.
The food proved to be more reasonably priced than the parking.
Munch and SDOM approached the counter, which had a refrigerated case of sushi, soups and sides to the left and a case of beverages to the right. Munch and SDOM decided to split a tuna roll ($7), a yellow tail roll ($8) and a side of kimchi ($2). We also decided to splurge on Sinobi's special -- a bowl of green onion soup (normally $2) was just a buck with sushi.
Munch also grabbed a lightning roll ($9.50) and a bowl of soup for Hungry Colleague of Munch, who happily accepted Munch's offer to deliver food to his desk.
The soup was cold from the case, but the staff offered to heat it up for us. After the first round of microwaving, it was still too chilly, but the staff was quick to offer another round of heat and brought it to the table when it was hot.
Seating is limited to a row of stools along a counter on one wall and one small table. Munch and SDOM sat at the table, but we were the only eat-in customers that day. Most of the people who trickled in during our lunch grabbed something from the case and headed out.
SDOM, a fan of spicy foods, requested an extra dollop of wasabi and Sinobi's special spicy sauce -- a mixture of soy sauce, spicy mayo and sriracha. SDOM was particularly fond of the spicy sauce, but he said that the kimchi wasn't spicy enough.
SDOM noted that he'd never had kimchi before, but he told Munch how he knew about the Korean fermented cabbage: There's an episode of "M• A• S• H" where the soldiers notice Koreans burying something in the ground and assume it's a bomb. It's not.
"Pickled cabbage," Hawkeye says. "They ferment it in the ground. There's millions of these buried all over Korea!"
"I'd get title to this land, Major," B.J. notes. "Before word gets out."
"Huh?" the major says.
"Don't you understand, man? You've struck coleslaw!" Hawkeye declares. (This is also what SDOM yelled at Munch when relaying the story.)
SDOM declared lunch a success in spite of the mellowly spiced kimchi. (To be fair, SDOM almost always says his food isn't spicy enough -- it'd probably be plenty spicy for the average sushi-lover.)
Munch was pleased with the healthy sushi lunch, which felt especially nutritious right after Halloween, the holiday in which Co-workers of Munch try to kill each other by leaving leftover candy all over the office.
HCOM was hard at work and/or in a sugar coma when Munch returned and plunked lunch on his desk.
HCOM described the lightning roll, which contains crab stick, asparagus, avocado and cucumber slivers, as "basically a standard crab stick roll, but spicier." HCOM said he doesn't like ice-cold sushi, and was glad it warmed up a bit on Munch's walk back to the office.
Munch would love to do hour-long, three-martini lunches every day, but in reality, Munch is busy. And for busy people, Sinobi's quick soup and sushi make for a welcome addition to Market Square.