Diners entering Yue-Sun Restaurant are greeted with a feast for the senses. At any given moment, chefs are flipping steak and shrimp over blazing hibachi flames to the delight of parents and children, who nibble on miniature bites of teriyaki steak. In another part of the room, a conveyer-belt train of fresh sushi rolls by in a delicious, colorful parade of avocado, salmon, and wasabi. The atmosphere is family friendly, but also caters to intimate dates, with lobster dinners, couple's meals, and chopsticks that can only be operated by two people.
From behind their blonde wood bar, the sushi chefs set solemnly to work. Grasping rice in their well-seasoned hands, they blend the staple with ocean-caught fish, verdant seaweed, and a roster of international ingredients to produce morsels as delicate as a chrysanthemum blossom or as hearty as a stalwart oak. While these chefs embrace Japanese tastes and aesthetics, you don't have to have a passport to meet them; they ply their trade at Kyoto, where Asian flavors intersect with a decidedly American address. Not to be outdone by the bar's signature sushi and sashimi, the chefs of Kyoto's kitchen turn in faithful reproductions of dishes generally associated with Tokyo, Beijing, or Korea's moon base. Shrimp and vegetables don a dusting of tempura flakes before a trip to the flash-fryer leaves them crisp and golden, and tender cuts of beef mingle with green onions amid spicy mongolian sauce. No matter the meal, glasses of sake or Japanese beers from brewers including Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi help wash down bites or power toasts to the chef's good health.
Maki Sushi & Noodle Shop earned city-worthy praise in both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune for the elegant simplicity that characterizes both its menu and décor. Japanese letters run down the floor-to-ceiling murals that color the bright eatery’s mint-green walls, flanking a sushi bar centerpiece where more than 20 seats rest courtside as master chefs prepare soft shell crab, homemade dumplings, and crispy rangoons. They also churn out fresh sashimi and dozens of signature maki rolls including Crazy Crunch filled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and tempura crunch topped with wasabi mayo and unagi sauce. The clean lines of the eatery’s exposed brick pillars and polished wood-grain floors spill over into lunchtime bento boxes, which compartmentalize protein such as crabmeat fried rice or chicken katsu. Delicate flutes of martini glasses filled with fruit-infused takes on the classic cocktail. Equipped with a glass-enclosed wine cellar, Maki Sushi’s lower level lounge plays host to private get-togethers, corporate happy hours, and very short games of hide-and-seek.
Wok 'n Fire?named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living?tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
Inside Dao Hibachi Restaurant, eyes drink up sumptuous interior design and ornately arranged sushi as taste buds sample Thai spices and meats seared on a hibachi. Patrons let their chopsticks breathe on the outdoor patio, sip specialty cocktails under boxy lanterns, or sit on floor cushions beneath lines of Japanese text on khaki-colored walls. Noodles and vegetable slivers trail from appetizers served in martini glasses, like the protein drinks James Bond downs before chasing down Goldfinger's private airplane on foot.
Asian Pearl's chefs practice their craft with multitasking; in order to execute the bistro's extensive menu, they must be familiar with the tenets of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. Rice noodles and fragrant curries occupy the Thai sphere of the kitchen, while woks toss Chinese favorites including sesame chicken and five-spice duck. Japanese influence appears both in tempura plates and in signature maki rolls, such as the Sky roll that tops shrimp tempura with masago, kanikama, and crunch. Asian Pearl also blends flavors in seafood or grill dishes, such as Tiger's Tears—marinated beef draped in a sauce they claim is "spicy enough to make a tiger cry," something that was said of Judy Garland.
A gentle bath of neon blue light descends over diners inside Asian Pearl's modernist dining room, punctuated by white tablecloths and mural silhouettes of golden trees. Neatly folded napkin peaks greet patrons as they sit down at the sushi bar, forming a crimson vanguard between the wood-and-silver chairs and the chefs' busy hands behind the glass. Around the perimeter of the dining room, thin hanging lamps cast a contrasting red and white light from behind scrawls of Chinese characters.