Founded by Jim Noble of Noble's Restaurant renown, the unassuming striped awnings and pale bricks at Rooster’s conceal an unconventional dining interior dominated by a wall of wine on one side and a wall of stuffed roosters on the other. The dinner menu offers Noble's tomato basil bisque ($7) as a soothing opener to a charcuterie sampler ($18) of chicken-liver mousse ($6), house-cured duck ($7), house-smoked salmon ($8), and other cured delicacies. Gourmands with a taste for heartier fare can skip ahead to sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut pesto ($10), rib-eye filet ($22), or spitfire-roasted Carolina BBQ pork shoulder ($9) served with a side of Anson Mills grits with bacon ($6). All entrees pair well with assorted mushrooms fresh from the woods ($10), fire-roasted asparagus fresh from the garden ($7), artisanal cheese fresh from the artisanal cheese tree—and especially with the ginormous selection of French, Spanish, Italian, domestic, and sparkling wines.
The Nakato family first opened its eponymous restaurant in Charlotte in 1976, the year mankind discovered fish. Today, their team of seasoned hibachi chefs span three locations, where they prepare entrees of filet mignon, chicken, and veggies with tofu in a showy teppanyaki style atop tableside grills. Each entree arrives with an array of sides, ranging from onion soup to noodles and rice. Behind their own counters, sushi chefs coil rolls filled with smelt roe and spicy aioli and slice tender pieces of tuna and salmon sashimi.
Sky Asian Bistro fills its cozy confines with Asian fusion dishes and creative sushi rolls since its 2013 opening. Chefs in the kitchen cook popular dishes such as spicy general tso’s chicken, walnut shrimp, and miso-glazed salmon. Sushi chefs stuff rolls with ingredients that include lobster salad and crunchy tuna, then bestow creative names such as the Man Overboard Roll and the “That’s How We” Roll.
At Tsuki Japanese, sushi chefs handcraft nearly 30 specialty rolls. One such roll is the Red Devil: a vibrant medley of lobster tempura, mango, and spicy tuna. Another is the snow crab- and chili sauce-topped Snow Roll. Even with so many options, however, the chefs know that they can't account for every taste. That's why they've created the build-your-own seaweed or soybean rolls, which they pack with a diner's chosen ingredients. These run the gamut from asparagus to grilled chicken, and come garnished with sauces like eel teriyaki and eel-free teriyaki.
While sushi chefs fastidiously wrap the rolls, the hibachi cooks dazzle visitors by preparing feasts on teppanyaki grills. Amidst jetting flames, they sear cuts of filet mignon and tender scallops, which they pair with soup, salads, veggies, and fried rice or noodles.
Blu basil's delectable marinara, crisp, bubbling pizzas, and hearty Italian entrees fill the eatery with the sweet aromas of fine Italian cuisine. This casual dining bistro boasts menus primed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, which allows ravenous eaters to leave the house without first consulting a sundial. A standout from the appetizer starting lineup is the toasted ravioli, deep-fried cheese pockets served with homemade marinara sauce ($6.99). Once internal food satchels are ready, entree enthusiasts can opt to fill them with dishes such as the gorgonzola steak pasta, thinly sliced New York strip steak coyly lounging on a bed of noodles and gorgonzola cream sauce ($15.99). With eight different specialty pizzas to choose from, pie-cravers can test their teeth's durability by sinking them into crisp slices of thin-crust pancetta and spinach ($10.99), barbecue chicken ($10.99), or the garlicky margarita ($9.99).
Zen Fusion’s knack for finding culinary kinship between Asian- and Spanish-inspired tapas seems to have resonated with diners, because enough of them took the time to vote the bistro into the top spot as Best Fusion Restaurant in Charlotte Magazine. The eclectic menu springs all kinds of surprises on diners, with fusion dishes such as fettuccini pasta topped with chicken in a mild curry sauce, and an upscale broccoli and beef dish made with tenderloin, string beans, and black pepper sauce. That spirit of fusion carries over to the drink menu, which contains both sake and sangria. There’s also slew of innovative cocktails, such as the Budina—a take on the mojito that swaps rum for vodka— and the Sake-2-Me, a blend of sake, Malibu rum, pineapple, and cranberry.