Thursday, December 6, 2012


Final Grade: A
            I’m not one who usually falls behind on restaurants: news, openings, events, you name it and there’s a pretty good chance I can give you some dish on it! (pun intended) Sadly though, lately I’ve dropped the ball on the dining scene scoop. One place in particular has been told and retold to me quite a bit and I, shamefully, haven’t followed through. Until last week that is…
            Xina, the BYO place right before the Seaside Bridge, has been on my radar for way too long. And after finally getting my fill there, I am quite upset I waited this long.
Crunchy Pepper Tuna
            In addition to hearing that the food is ridiculous, I’ve also been told be prepared to wait. I guess that is the price you pay for some good grub though! Anyway, once you do eventually get a seat, you will be thankful. The atmosphere is ½ trendy ½ casual: a mix I say equals heels on the weekend and sneaks during the week. The oversized sushi bar is quite the looker, with fresh & bright seafood displayed throughout. There is a cozy fireplace that anchors the place which provides a welcoming warmth from the bay breeze just outside the window. Another scenery plus? The lighting. Not too bright, not too dramatic, a few nice fixtures that enhance the space, basically a job well done.
Spicy Rock Shrimp
            Now for the better part: food. The menu is extensive and there are nightly specials that do their best to throw you off as well. We started with three appetizers, but were tempted by about 10 others. I had the Spicy Rock Shrimp ($) and was completely wowed by my choice. The little batter-fried shrimp were decently crunchy, but were best highlighted by the spicy gochujang sauce. Another pleaser was the Spicy Crab Salad ($6). It was cool, fresh and vibrant with flavor, finesse, and presentation. Our final app was the Crunchy Pepper Tuna ($10). The seared fish slices were feather-like in texture but heavy-hitters in taste as the speckled spices really dressed up the offering.
Beef with Seasonal Vegetables
               Entrees were all, “table-is-too-quiet,” good! I went with the Beef with Seasonal Vegetables ($15) and was most impressed by the meat. The Flank Steak was like butter, aka nothing I had ever had in a stir-fry. The brown gingery sauce was too good to not mention here, although I can’t say more than that- I ate it all too fast! A simple Shrimp Tempura Roll ($6) and eye-catching Tuna Amazing Roll ($13) rounded out our dinner. The rolls were done exceptionally well- proportional, fresh, and beautifully plated. If I had to choose a winner though, the ladder would win. With a combination of white tuna tempura, spicy tuna and peppered tuna all tied together with a mango and eel sauce, it was asking for an applause. Enter standing ovation!

Tuna Amazing Roll
            So even though it took me entirely too long to get to this TR hot-spot, I am dying to get back. I doubt I’ll be able to bypass the wait like I did by going during the week though. But from what I heard, saw, and now tasted, I think waiting for dinner from this kitchen is worth the wait any day!
Xina is located at 3430 Route 37 East, Toms River, NJ. More information can be found at           
Total score 22/25
Final Grade: A
A: 21-25    B: 16-20    C: 11-15   D: 6-10    F: 0-5
Restaurant Rubric
Food Taste
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Restaurant service
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Food Presentation
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?


  1. The tuna dishes look amazing! I love trying new restaurants.

    1. They were awesome! I highly recommend this place:) Thanks for checking out my blog