The multitalented chefs at Sakura Japanese Steakhouse emphasize quality ingredients and artful presentation in each and every dish. The traditional Japanese dining room features a central hibachi grill that sears vegetables, steak, and seafood in an inferno of sizzling oils and bright yellow flames. Sakura’s more coolheaded sushi chefs swirl hand and specialty rolls—crafted from shrimp tempura, softshell crab, and salmon—behind chilled cases of fresh fish. Indecisive diners can request omakase meals, assortments of seasonal dishes handpicked by the chef to showcase culinary skill and an ability to match meals to wallpaper swatches.
• For $17, you get $35 worth of Japanese fare and sushi during dinner. • For $8, you get $16 worth of Japanese fare and sushi during lunch. Irashiai's chefs parade an extensive menu of handmade sashimi, nigiri, and maki before diners in the restaurant's new location. Black-caviar sashimi ($3.50 for lunch, $3.75 for dinner) admits diners into elegance like a butler's secret handshake, and nigiri aficionados can sample sticky rice topped with such offerings as fried oyster ($2.00) or shrimp ($1.50). The island roll with panko fried tuna, citrus tobiko, and ponzu sauce ($6.95) tickles taste buds with tropical flavors without committing the faux pas of eating a lei. Yakisoba sautéed with thin egg noodles ($8.50) brims with chicken and veggies captured before they could set out on their morning swim, and a wide variety of bento boxes and lunch combos frolics beneath the restaurant's wasabi-green walls.
At Sogo Fusion, monkey rolls come arranged in tidy rows across a square plate, piled high with mounds of tempura seafood that lend the rolls the appearance of squat, tiny huts. The monkey roll is just one of dozens of artfully arranged platters. Chefs strive to match their creative presentations with equally inspired ingredients: tempura-battered seafood stars in many of the rolls, a crisp and savory batter complementing the bright flavors of mango and kiwi. In addition to sushi, they grill up Japanese hibachi entrees and simmer spicy Thai curries, which ensure that chopsticks stay too busy to assist with diners’ walrus impressions.
The chefs use their two spatulas with breathtaking ease—their every move honed by countless hours spent over a flat-top grill. Chopped veggies and pieces of steak, chicken, and seafood brown over the sizzling grill as the chefs prepare meals to order. The bite-size morsels are doused in soy or teriyaki sauce and sent out into the dining room of Sake Express as curlicues of heat dance above the plates. Relaxing in bright-blue booths, guests can feast on chicken or steak while challenging their reflection to a staring contest in the eatery’s oversized mirrors, flanked by panels of red-and-black latticework on the walls.
The culinary authors at Utage Athens Sushi Bar compose compelling nonfiction masterpieces about tasty Japanese cuisine. The 10-piece lobster-roll dish, a maki plate, weaves avocado, cucumber, lettuce, and masago into a flavorful fabric of deep-fried lobster ($12.50). Utage stultifies hunger with 26 varieties of authentic raw nigiri, one for each human sense.
Sushi fans will find plenty of familiar favorites at Inoko Sushi Express, including standards like spicy tuna rolls, tempura crab-stuffed spider rolls, and fresh avocado rolls. But the chefs here also put their own creative spin on sushi, whipping up bagel rolls stuffed with salmon and cream cheese, and reconstructing an old staple, the California roll, by breading and deep-frying the entire thing. Beyond sushi, they also craft traditional Japanese entrees like chicken katsu, or hibachi specialties like chicken and mango teriyaki. And they don't just cater to the lunch- and dinner-time crowds: three nights a week, Inoko Sushi Expres stays open until 1 a.m., tempting night owls and jet-lagged early birds with a special late-night menu.