Though the culinary traditions of Korea and Japan are drastically different, they come together at Samurai Sushi. Around a bar that's raised on a wooden platform in the middle of an airy dining room, eclectic dangling lights in the shapes of triangles or half globes scatter light across dishes uniting disparate Asian fare. While watching the sushi chefs' deft hands and glittering sharp knives, diners nibble intricate maki with snow crab, shrimp, and tobiko, the Japanese name for sunset-hued flying-fish roe. Gazes then drift upward to the three flat-screen TVs showing popular programs and news anchors repeatedly attempting to pronounce headlines about Worcestershire sauce.
Beneath mounted pieces of art, steam pours from bowls of udon noodles and katsu—breaded and deep-fried chicken or pork. Korean influences shine in dishes of short ribs and bibimbap bowls, which traditionally combine a fried egg, roasted meats, and veggies.
Hailing from Brazil, where he witnessed his Japanese mother bind sushi at home, Taka Watanabe sharpened his sea-fare-swaddling skills under the tutelage of a Japan-born sushi expert. At Taka's Sushi, Californian twists wheedle their way into a menu that offers nigiri topped with fresh-water eel or Spanish mackerel, depending on the season and the fish's hectic schedule of social appearances. Chopsticks shuttle sushi such as the Ziggy roll—a soy-wrapped cocoon bulging with deep-fried soft-shell crab and a fiery garlic-avocado sauce—and seared duck from plate to palate.
On pearly white plates, heaping Angus burgers arrive steaming on their sturdy rolls alongside crispy fixings. It’s also not uncommon for bacon, guacamole, and pastrami to find their way onto Jasper’s specialty burgers, which are often accompanied by crispy French fries and hand-scooped milk shakes on the side. Chicken, beef, and lamb gyros are heaped high, while housemade dark chocolate baklava satisfies sweet tooths. In the retro dining room, eaters slip into old-fashioned leather booths or twirl atop brushed steel stools as they enjoy those and other sizzling, old-fashioned drive-in-style favorites. Since taking over in 2012, new owner Sam has made a point of sweetening up the menu with his family’s secret recipe for Jubilee Everything Cake. Diners can also satisfy dessert needs with cupcakes shaped like miniature burgers that are actually made of moist cake, served with cake “fries,” and dusted with sugar and red icing “ketchup.”
Amid woodcarvings of Asian deities, copper and bronze flowers creep across Thai Jasmine Restaurant’s shoji screens. Asian-inspired flourishes such as these lend the eatery an aura of authenticity that extends to the food: chefs draw upon culinary skills honed in Thailand to craft a menu of stir-fries and noodle dishes. They marinate meat in redolent Thai spices before roasting them over charcoals and deep-fry fish in a coconut batter that complements sautéed pineapple. Additionally, thai iced coffee or ginger tea enable refreshment and a skilled gargling of the American and Thai national anthems.