Dishes as vibrant and diverse as the UN’s annual Mardi Gras celebration deck the tabletops at Kogen’s, the seventh Asian-influenced eatery borne from the Mark Pi restaurant group. Drawing inspiration from Japanese street food, Chinese dry-food markets, and upscale American cuisine, the chefs craft an artful and varied menu that embodies both traditional favorites and experimental creations. Here, helpings of pad thai and hunan chicken share real estate with kung pao lo mein and sashimi platters. The signature sushi rolls dabble in a range of flavors, for example, the Margarita roll combines spicy tuna with avocado, lime, and wasabi mayo, and the Fire Dragon roll sets tongues ablaze with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, spicy mayo, and sriracha sauce.
Praised by Columbus Dispatch for its elegant minimalism and the value of its rolls, Tokyo's Sushi rolls fresh catches inside tasty cylinders of rice with an eye to polished presentation. Dining tandems can play Marco Polo with their chopsticks as they navigate a crunchy seaweed salad sprinkled with sesame dressing, prepping palates for the onslaught of specialty rolls to come. The rainbow roll displays a prismatic synthesis of crabmeat salad and avocado topped with tuna, salmon, and shrimp, whereas the Star roll pairs peppered tuna, caviar, spicy mayo, and crisp tempura flakes in time for a midmeal crunch competition. After diving fang first into deep-fried shrimp-tempura and spicy-tuna rolls, a four-piece sushi assortment puts a cap to the fresh-fish feast, inviting dining duos to split them equally or divide them according to who has the most mouths.
Aromas of searing meats and vegetables waft from fiery hibachi grills inside Tanuki Japanese Steakhouse Sushi & Bar. Chefs dexterously slice pieces of calamari, chicken, and new york strip steak atop the grills' scorching surfaces, creating bite-sized servings for diners. Behind the sushi bar, other chefs devote themselves to rapidly assembling layered nigiri and carefully rolled maki. Besides traditional rolls, they also experiment by incorporating such flavorful ingredients as chicken tempura, sweet chili sauce, and jalapeños into their special rolls.
Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi's well-traveled owners, Mel and Barb Ayers, unite the culinary artistry of Japan with chefs selected from around America for their talents and showmanship. The result—set in a convivial restaurant with an outdoor patio and tableside hibachi grills—draws a bridge between the artistic elegance of Japanese cuisine and the family-friendly atmosphere of an American steakhouse. Meats sizzle on hibachi grills as chefs perform knife and spatula tricks for dazzled onlookers, who must refrain from leaning in too close lest a tower of onions suddenly catches fire. The spectacular dance of flames results in entrees of filet mignon, sea scallops, and lobster tails, all of which pair nicely with sushi such as a crab-filled california roll or a Volcano roll drizzled with fresh magma.
The expert teppanyaki chefs at Ichiban use their iron griddles as the primary tools in building a menu that sizzles with steaks, seafood, and noodle dishes, and a sushi bar that unfurls with makimono. Although the sushi wears its Japanese pride on its seaweed sleeve, both steakhouses also boast a streak of avant-garde international influence, with such offerings as the seared salmon roll––salmon skin and cucumber topped with seared salmon and salsa ($13). The Crazy roll's deliciousness makes diners believe that their tongues are flavor magnets with morsels of shrimp tempura, avocado, flying-fish roe, and spicy mayo ($7). Hibachi dinner entrees—such as the filet mignon and scallops ($22.95)—arrive with an entourage of sides that include two pieces of shrimp tempura, vegetables, and steamed rice (substitute fried rice for $1.65).
Just like at family gatherings, diners gather at long, rectangular tables and wait for their hosts to serve dinner. Unlike family gatherings, however, a flame suddenly bursts forth from the table’s built-in grill, where standing cooks sauté seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetables. Such is the scene at Chef Honda Restaurant, where a row of these hibachi tables fill a dining room accented with earth tones. In addition to traditional grilled entrees, the cooks prepare specials such as spicy-tuna carpaccio and seared maki rolls.