Though the chefs at Thai Urban Kitchen draw from the flavors of Thailand and Japan's street food, they aren't afraid to add in more upscale ingredients. To wit, they use gourmet cuts of meat and vegetarian alternatives to make unique twists of classical cuisine. In infusing a little something extra to their signature pad thai, they add cuts of duck, calamari, beef, and shrimp with just a touch of red apple for sweetness. On their sushi menu, chefs design creative rolls such as the Salmon Lover, which combines raw salmon, masago, and avocado with spicy mayo, all topped with pink nori and seared salmon. And to end the meal on a sweet note without having to whittle the check out of chocolate, the chefs also scoop Asian-inspired flavors of ice cream as well as 18 gelatos.
Juxtaposing with the colorful sushi rolls and eye-catching plating is the dining room's sleek decor. A monochromatic design scheme adds a touch of modernity that is not impervious to comfort thanks to high-backed leather seats. Silver metalwork and treated glass hang above the expansive bar, where bartenders pour sake by the glass or offer their favorite selections in drink flights.
EJ Sushi's rolls take diners on a tour around the world and back faster than a supersonic slingshot. Its menu includes traditional Philadelphia and Alaskan rolls, as well as tempura-fried Texas rolls with yellowtail and cream cheese and Chicago Fire rolls, which include tuna, salmon, escolar, and avocado. Chefs celebrate the flavors south of the border with the Mexican roll’s filling of cilantro, spicy tuna, seaweed salad, cucumber, jalapeño, spicy mayo, and hot sauce. And the eatery’s aesthetic celebrates Japan with walls covered in painted mountainscapes and cherry-blossom trees.
The chefs at Hot Woks Cool Sushi slice and coil rolls and sashimi at four Chicago locations. California and tuna-avocado makimono rolls join signature rolls such as the jumbo-size Akira with tuna and salmon or the Dragon, which crisps its shrimp tempura with its own fiery breath. Hot Woks Cool Sushi also hosts sushi-making classes, which include tasting menus, samplings of sake and wine, and chef supervision as guests create their own rolls.
An airy, stylish dining area and full bar sets the stage for Izumi's contemporary Japanese cuisine, offering a colorful spread of both raw and cooked fish dishes on its menu. One of the friendly, attentive servers can kick off your fish-fest with the wasabi mayo potato salad ($5), a combo of mashed potatoes, crisp cucumber, and zesty izumi wasabi, or the seared tuna tataki ($10), which sears its titular thick red fish in tangy lime soy sauce and arrives bejeweled with avocados. Prepare your digestive fishing nets for the magnificent maki, Izumi's signature dish. The succulent strawberry maki ($15) celebrates another successful fruit-fishing season, sporting a super-white tuna and crunchy tempura center layered with spicy tuna and slices of strawberry. Fried prawns and cucumber center the dragon roll ($14), which comes drizzled with mayo and glazed with eel sauce, while the Pacific Surf maki ($12) hangs 10 on your tongue with its blend of Hawaiian yellowtail, jalapeño, and cream cheese topped with tempura crumbs. This Groupon is also good for drinks, such as the sake, which you can order alone ($12–$25) or genetically fused with other spirits to form various sake flights and saketinis ($8–$15). The restaurant also allows patrons to bring their own wine, with no corkage fee added.
Dine under a wash of lights that flatter all complexions and handily protect developing photographs with today's Groupon to Red Light, a pan-Asian boutique of bountiful bliss managed by the same restaurateurs as Gioco, Marché, and Opera. Citysearchers voted Red Light the Best Chicago Pan Asian Food in 2007, and Zagat rates the imaginative fare excellent at this buzzing spot, where the food, service, and atmosphere are as intoxicating as the drinks. With today's deal, you get $50 worth of pan-Asian cuisine for $25. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Anna Makmok and her mother, Noy, have grown accustomed to sharing their contemporary pan-Asian cuisine with Chicagoans. In addition to helping found Thalia Spice, Anna and Noy have spread their influence by founding Anna's Asian Grill & Sushi Bar and Anna's Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar. The common theme uniting all of these restaurants is their eclectic cuisine, which consists of Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Laotian cooking featured alongside fare from other nations.
Noy looks to put her own mark on these familiar recipes through experimentation. This leads to dishes such as the fried avocado stuffed with spicy tuna, which was featured on an episode of Chicago's Best.
Choose Your Texture
When pairing wine with spicier cuisines, it helps to pick something with a touch of sweetness, such as an off-dry riesling. The delicacy of sushi means that an equally delicate wine—think vinho verde for white or pinot noir for red—works well. For heartier, savory dishes, consider something with fruit-forward flavors and a bit more boldness: merlot. If all else fails, choose your favorite bottle of wine and enjoy.