Chefs at Raku concoct authentic Asian dishes in traditional Korean and Japanese style, served on rough-hewn wooden tables lit by elegantly patterned paper lanterns. House specialty tonkatsu, pan-fried crispy pork loin, graces the menu with its unrepentant tanning habits ($8.95). Traditional Japanese-style ramen comes in a variety of soothing favorites, with combinations such as soy-based broth, peas, ramen, and tender pork ($7.95). Asian favorites such as steamed pork-belly buns draped with hoisin sauce ($3.95) or hearty donburi dishes mingling meat, vegetables, and rice ($6.95+) sate the secret desires of shy palates, and imported Asahi beer cascades from its cold draft. Raku is open until midnight on Sunday–Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for extended gatherings of friends, family, and lukewarm coworkers.
The skilled scoopers at Honeysuckle Gelato pass overflowing cups of frozen artisan desserts through the window of their pale-blue treat truck, thrilling customers with southern-inspired flavors culled from local ingredients. Fresh milk from local farms forms the base of velvety treats with flavors such as Provencal lavender and Gallberry honey, traditionally spread across pillows to fend off nightmares. Other flavors include spicy chocolate and a cheesecake blend of locally crafted ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, optionally augmented with a drizzle of homemade caramel or jam. Those hoping to avoid milk mustaches or frozen milk fu manchus can opt for a sorbet such as the salted watermelon. Customers of the restored shaved-ice truck can mix two flavors in a regular cup ($3.50) or take home a hand-scooped pint ($7.50).
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Not very many people get inspired by tacos served out of the back of a nondescript van. But when Nacho Mama's Street Taqueria founder Ray bit into one of those freshly prepared tacos, he found his calling: make quality Mexican food. After attending Le Cordon Bleu, he began serving tacos from the back of his own food truck. Now, he's got his own restaurant.
Each taco, burrito, or rice bowl comes with your choice of meat, such as pork cooked with green chilies, chicken in a chipotle sauce, and traditional braised carnitas. For vegetarians, there's roasted corn and poblanos instead. The final product is paired with a side of chips and salsa. Meals can be washed down with Jarritos soda, which comes in an array of unique flavors, much like jelly beans after merging with that spice company.
At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.
B. Beattys chefs follow the time-honored family recipes that were handed down from their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They begin each morning with breakfast, rolling up their sleeves and firing up grills before whipping up fluffy omelets and crispy chicken and waffles. Come lunchtime, they turn their attention to customized sandwiches, layering toasted rolls and sourdough bread with slow-roasted pork, fried turkey, and bacon. When dinner rolls around, they load plates with hearty servings of catfish, rib-eye steaks, and pork chops. The accommodating chefs invite guests to personalize many menu items, encouraging diners to choose seasonings for their meats and take a moment to come up with a nickname and backstory for each one of their french fries.
Servers flit about the casual dining room, where sunlight streams in through towering windows. Diners sit at booths and tabletops, sipping on smoothies and shakes.