Shogun Restaurant Japanese Steak House's culinary artists tightly wrap sushi rolls at a glass-front sushi bar and flip and fry meat, fish, and veggies at tableside hibachi grills. A fleet of specialty rolls includes the Sky Diver roll with soft-shell crab and eel and the Shaggy Dog roll, layered with shrimp tempura and crab. Shogun’s chefs can also roll single-fish classics such as tuna, salmon, and yellowtail—the fish least likely to clash with a yellow plate or an outfit made of Post-it notes.
A vibrant Asian eatery, Aka Japanese Restaurant serves up fresh cuisine via tableside Teppanyaki grilling, sushi rolls, and more. The family-friendly establishment provides a lunch menu with plentiful bento-box options ($8.95–$12.95), each of which includes miso soup, rice, salad, four California rolls, two crab rangoons, and your choice of an entree such as Japanese-style steak, chicken, shrimp tempura, vegetable tempura, or sashimi. The hibachi dinner menu boasts entrees prepared in front of diners at the Teppanyaki grill, such as the chicken teriyaki served with vegetables, rice, and soup or salad ($12.95), and the sushi bar keep meals deliciously raw with various sushi and rolls, such as the fish lover's volcano roll—whose California roll foundation is topped with baked scallop, shrimp, and salmon ($8.95)—or the spicy-crab-filled black-dragon roll, a fire-breathing wrap of cucumber, boiled shrimp, eel, avocado, and special sauces ($13).
SushiBar isn’t easily defined. The pan-Asian eatery draws inspiration from traditional Asian culinary techniques and modern methods. This eclectic acumen extends to the space itself, which transforms into a pleasant brunch site on Sunday afternoons—just a few hours after it is a DJ-driven, dance-centric chess club. Chefs assemble more than 60 sushi rolls—incorporating everything from blackened tuna and jalapeño to spicy crab and bell pepper—but they also introduce Pacific Rim flavors into familiar Western dishes. Beyond the brunch selection's hash of guillotine-sliced Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms, the regular menu features pork-belly tacos with kimchi and sliders with poached salmon and puréed avocado.
Twelve chefs clad in black uniforms and red hats stand at attention over tableside hibachis. All eyes on them, they start to play with their food: the culinary wizards wave lobster tails at guests, set onions aflame, and flip shrimp high in the air to land in their tall hats. “It is not just about the food, it’s about the show,” says Sumo Japanese Steakhouse owner Brad Meltzer. “The show brings you in and the food brings you back.”
Prior to landing on the hibachi grill, beef is butchered in-house and dressed in its Sunday best. Filet mignon shares grilling space with salmon, chicken, tuna, and scallops dipped in house-made ginger sauce. Meltzer and a small army of trained sushi chefs designed their menu of more than two dozen nigiri and sashimi rolls to please even the prickliest taste buds. Meltzer himself favors the 210 roll, a cyclone of scallops, shrimp, and crab slathered in sweet-and-spicy sauce and topped with crabstick, eel sauce, spicy mayo, and a snowfall of tempura flakes.
Chinese-American fusion stars on the menus served at Taipei Restaurants, located in both Stone Oak and Castle Hills. Both locations specialize in wok-seared moo shu pork served with housemade pancakes, salt-and-pepper shrimp, and triple delight—a tasty trifecta of chicken, beef, and shrimp in a spicy housemade sauce. Sizzling firecracker chicken sets tongues aflame with jalapenos at the Castle Hills dining room, and in Stone Oak, knives glide through tender osso bucco, a bone-in pork shank poached in a traditional sauce of rice wine and soy. At the Stone Oak location, sushi chefs carefully craft maki rolls or assemble plates of precisely sliced sashimi and nigiri from fresh seafood fished by the staff's resident mermaid. The Castle Hills location cultivates serenity with muted tan walls, rows of tall windows, and mounted Chinese paintings that depict subjects from a horse to a parade.
The icy wind howled as the Thai House food cart ambled down the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, sending the spicy aroma of simmering curry and hot soups through the winter air. It was subzero mornings like these that were hardest on Thai natives Somchai and Jiraporn Namarsa. That didn't stop them from working 18-hour days, though, chopping pounds upon pounds of fresh vegetables and meat and rolling hundreds of spring rolls each week for their popular Thai cart in the hopes of saving enough money to send their daughter to medical school.
The Namarsas’ years of hard work paid off—not only did they put their daughter through college, they now own their own restaurant, Thai Topaz, in the sunny town of San Antonio. Within the cheerful, orange-walled eatery, the couple draws inspiration from their years of Thai cooking experience and longtime family recipes to craft a variety of traditional and innovative dishes. They captain a kitchen crew as they fold fresh herbs, spices, and produce into spicy curries, flavorful noodle dishes, and their new grandson's favorite—homemade coconut-mango ice cream.