Glossy floors and shiny wood walls line the room, setting the stage for UKAI Sushi & Chinese's centerpiece—a burbling fountain, home to a towering plant and cascading waters flowing down a rock formation. Though the scene is captivating, the main attraction is the menu, covering both Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Drawing on Japanese traditions, the chefs craft specialty rolls, some with surprising ingredients. For instance, the Angel roll pairs sliced apples with shrimp and crab meat, and the Snow White roll wraps up coconut sauce and tuna without attracting evil queens. Conversely, they specialize in Chinese-American staples, as well as a lineup of chef's specials, including coconut shrimp drizzled in coconut sauce and honey-walnut shrimp.
Chefs at Aodake Sushi & Steak House dispatch sushi and hibachi-seared steaks beneath hanging lamps and glowing globes. Meat, vegetables, and seafood make for multicourse meals, and a variety of kitchen entrees bolster the thronged dinner menu. At the bar, more than 20 vodkas alchemize into a variety of martinis or blocks of pure gold.
With 15 years of culinary experience, Sushi Train's chef feels equally comfortable pan-frying traditional Japanese entrees and crafting attractively assembled rolls draped in sauces and decorative toppings. In addition to drawing from a menu that features an extensive selection of familiar maki, the chef also crafts a number of signature sushi creations that incorporate such ingredients as salmon tempura, mango sauce, and Cajun-spiced king crab. Semicircular, high-backed booths line the dining room's gently lit walls, which feature large photographs of sushi entrees. For a distinctly transpacific ambiance, the room also boasts silk screens and bamboo shoots stolen from a panda's pantry.
Traditional Japanese recipes and cooking styles continue to inspire the chefs at Shinto Naperville. Mushrooming bursts of flame erupt from stainless-steel hibachis as they sear diners' orders tableside. In between shuffling platefuls of scallops or 28-day-aged filet mignon across the steaming surface, the chefs entertain their hungry audience by juggling utensils, tossing small pieces of food into guests' waiting mouths, and correctly guessing everyone's least favorite astrological sign. Measured doses of house-made teriyaki sauce or herb-infused butter lend even more flavor to the carefully caramelized entrees. Meanwhile, the chefs behind the sushi bar avoid grills entirely as they roll specialty maki with premium ingredients, including tempura lobster and jalapeño.
Filet mignon, marinated beef short ribs, and lemon-doused shrimp all meet the same fate when they hit the sizzling surface of a hibachi grill at Bistro Nami. They cook to perfection, joining sides of fried rice, grilled veggies, salad, miso soup and a gyoza as an appetizer. But that's not all Bistro Nami has to offer?the menu also includes ample sushi options, from succulent cuts of striped bass on rice to intricate rolls. The Chanel No. 5 roll combines super white tuna with jalapeno, cilantro, and two kinds of spicy sauce, which, like an angry donkey, delivers a kick to the mouth.
More than 15 years of preparing sushi at upscale locales have imbued chef Soon Park with a deep regard for this culinary tradition. Still, he isn't afraid to push his creations into the oven once and a while—his signature Dragon Breath roll sprinkles bread crumbs and garlic over shrimp tempura, which bakes in the kitchen before spicy mayo, chili sauce, and chili tobiko provide a finishing garnish. A simultaneous devotion to ritual and experimentation has enabled Chef Soon to complement these inventive rolls with sushi mainstays, such as Japanese-imported red snapper nigiri and fresh tuna sashimi. Whether he's dreaming up a new entree or wrapping a California roll, his mission remains the same: give each ingredient its due time in the spotlight. Rather than mask flavors with soy sauce or chopsticks made from cinnamon sticks, Chef Soon carefully balances each taste and texture within a given dish. Tender eel precedes crisp bites of lobster tempura on the Golden Lobster roll, which also surprises palates with the tang of spicy mayo and unagi sauces. The Octo nigiri, meanwhile, contrasts spicy salmon with spicy octopus, and a filo-wrapped ahi appetizer deep-fries tuna, cream cheese, and avocado into a flaky shell.