In 1983 Nord Brue and Mike Dressell decided that it didn't matter how far Burlington, Vermont was from New York City; no distance was too great to limit their access to New York-style bagels. So they spent 2.5 years apprenticing with a professional bagel baker from the city until they mastered the technique. Once they were comfortable with their skills and had accepted that it doesn't actually hurt the bagel to bite it, they opened their first Bruegger's Bagels, a casual bakery and café. Today, they have more than 300 eateries across the United States and Canada, each hawking freshly baked bagels, cream cheeses, sandwiches, coffee, and desserts.
At Sushi Avenue, chefs HaeChung Lee and Nansook Choi?or Harry and Nana, as they're known?curate a selection of more than 45 specialty sushi rolls filled with everything from apple to fresh crab. Along with the myriad maki?christened with names such as King Kong, Samurai, and Red Caterpillar?the restaurant also serves entrees such as orange chicken and classic appetizers such as miso soup, putting chopsticks to plenty of uses other than practicing Morse code.
At Nagasaki Grill, guests can choose one of three kinds of broth for their ramen: miso, tonkotsu, or curry. The last of these earned praise from the New Times, which called it “fragrant and…more interesting because it’s a rarity in these parts.” The low-key dining room almost feels like a cafeteria with its simple booths and meals served on trays.
From afar, the inside of Hon machi Sushi & Cocktail could look like a thriving marina, as salmon, eel, and tuna from around the world board wooden boats that dock at tables framed with lush plants and paper lanterns. Seasoned sushi chefs outfit each these passengers with a layer of seaweed or rice before granting eight of them passage on the Hon machi boat along with three types of sashimi and a rainbow roll. In their wake, hot Japanese entrees such as chicken yakisoba and pork katsu emanate savory scents from Teppanyaki tables. In addition to captaining sushi boats, the staff gives specific driving directions to sushi and noodles, which show up at homes, parties, and corporate events.
Sushi chef Pancho doesn’t hide behind the walls of a kitchen. Dressed in a brightly colored happi coat emblazoned with tropical fish, Pancho can often be seen distributing hot towels and cracking jokes while he crafts sushi rolls filled with spicy crabmeat, masago, or yellowtail in front of diners at his sushi bar. Of course, chefs still create hot specialties in the kitchen—entrées such as teriyaki salmon, vegetable tempura, and breaded pork tonkatsu add a dose of heat like an eager dragon in his first day as an AC repairman. The eatery cuts down on diners' bills with daily specials, including a half-price sushi happy hour and all-you-can-eat sushi for around $20.
Sushi Eye in Motion, which the Phoenix New Times crowned with the title of Best Sushi in 2006, tempts customers with traditional Japanese fare and freshly made sushi. Head chef Richard Cho has created a maki menu that travels down the sushi bar's conveyor belt, where customers can pick their selections or test their Hot Wheels' horsepower. For an appetizer, try the agedashi tofu, which chefs batter and fry with a mild, sweet sauce ($3), or the tender fried octopus of the tako karaage ($7).