Mr. Mee's serves Japanese, Thai and Korean menus from its small restaurant in the Sam's Club Plaza in south Fort Myers. / Special to The News-Press
5100 South Cleveland Ave., south Fort Myers
• Price: $$-$$$
• Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday
• Call: 277-5616
• Noise level: Low
• Web: mrmees.com
• Etc.: Beer and wine only, takeout available.
SAMPLE OF THE MENU
• Gyoza, $4.95
• Shrimp shumai, $5.95
• Satay chicken, $6.95
• Squid tempura, $7.95
• Mr. Mee’s roll, $12.95
• Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp, $11.95
• Bulgogi, $15.95
• Red snapper teriyaki, $15.95
Where sushi is concerned, people play favorites.
I have friends who swear by Blu Sushi’s Spicy Samurai rolls and jewel-toned martinis. Others are decades-old Origami devotees, “It’s our sushi birthplace. You can’t beat the original!” they swear.
The Mr. Mee’s fans tend to be quieter, less likely to wear their devotion on their kimono sleeves. Instead they show it by bellying up to the small sushi bar in the Sam’s Club Plaza in south Fort Myers week after week.
Mr. Mee’s opened more than 10 years ago. It started as a Japanese and Thai restaurant, adding on a full Korean menu when a Korean owner bought the place in 2001.
It’s a dizzying array of choices. And after some great and less-than-great dinners there, I can’t say each cuisine is treated equally.
Sushi is where Mr. Mee’s shines. Sushi is why folks forgo the hostess and head straight for seats at the sushi counter for an up-close look at the talented chefs at work.
The knife skills at Mr. Mee’s are second to none. Take a close look at the tilapia layered atop the signature Mr. Mee’s roll; the way the wisps of fish hug the rice as if affixed with glue; the way each edge tapers off just so, as if the fish naturally pulled apart in perfect, bite-sized pieces (it doesn’t – cuts like that take a sharp knife and a steady hand).
And when you’re done admiring, eat it. The Mr. Mee’s is filled with spicy tuna and nibbles of asparagus, that tilapia buttery and soft against the tuna’s mild heat. There are shrimp tempura rolls hugged by equally fine slices of avocado and a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise. Platters of tuna tataki justify their $17.95 price tag with delicate strips of fish in a ponzu sauce that sweeps across your tongue like silk.
You do your best to savor it, but end up at more of a scarfing pace.
Not so with the pad Thai where the dry, rust-colored noodles are left largely untouched. Or the Noodles of the Drunks, which taste of salt and grease and little else.
On the non-sushi Japanese menu the pork katsu is dry. Chop che noodles, from the Korean menu, are soused in soy sauce with just five small shrimp.
But the gang gai, a coconut-milk based Thai chicken curry, hits the right notes of cream and spice. And the tom yum goong soup tingles with ginger and lime, the shrimp count in this appetizer equaling that of the chop che.
The Mr. Mee’s dining room has changed little since my first visit back in 2002. Bamboo still frames the outer tables. Chairs are still the simple kind you find in delis and pizza parlors.
Service, too, is no-frills. Orders are taken and delivered efficiently. When asked for recommendations one night our waitress answered straight-faced, “Everything is good. Our sushi is really good.”
Heed her advice – well, the second half of it.
Jean Le Boeuf is the nom de plume of a local food lover who dines at The News-Press’ expense. Contact email@example.com; facebook.com/JeanLeBoeufSWFL or @jeanleboeuf (Twitter).