The chefs at Kampai Sushi draw on recipes from traditional Japanese and Korean cuisine to create classic dishes as well as playfully updated fare. Behind the sushi bar, they roll maki with fresh slices of salmon and decadent chunks of fried lobster tail, adding nontraditional flair with ingredients such as sweet pumpkin, honey-wasabi sauce, or potato chips. For heartier entrees, they can grill marinated korean short ribs or drizzle a deep-fried pork loin in a slightly sugary fruit sauce, the same way attorneys prepare briefs for sweet-toothed Supreme Court justices.
Bold flavors infuse Mizu Sushi Bar's menu of nigiri sushi, maki rolls, and cooked pan-Asian dishes. Spicy garlic sauce erupts from the Screaming Volcano roll, and tangy housemade teriyaki clings to charbroiled chicken and beef. Korean BBQ entrees such as beef ribs and bulgogi add international flavor, like the parts of Three Stooges films where Moe swears in Javanese. And for those who prefer less spice, tempura shrimp and veggies hide inside crisp batter, and udon noodles swirl in mild broth.
Though located in the trendy Washington Avenue district, Mizu's industrial-style space is "spacious and sleek without seeming hipper than thou," according to the Riverfront Times. Track lighting dangles from an exposed ceiling next to flat-screen TVs and a wall-mounted sculpture of tortoises striving to be seen as more than just potential eyeglass frames.
Helmed by chef Paul Kulkanjanatorn, who boasts 10 years in the raw fish-fileting industry, Fin Japanese Cuisine serves up a vast menu of authentic Japanese fare in a sophisticated and romantic setting. Gird yourself for a long night of vampire hunting with a hearty dinner bento box such as the Shogun Set, a collection of gindara miso, shrimp tempura, and sashimi ($18.95), or opt for tonkatsu, a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet mingled with katsu sauce ($16.95). Midday munchers can luxuriate in a lunch bento set, served with gyoza, house salad, rice, miso soup, and a helping of chicken, salmon, or steak teriyaki ($9.95).
Outside, flames blaze within a set of stone cauldrons atop towering tripods. The vessels, known as dings, have been symbols of power in China since ancient times, when dynasties ruled the empire—making them a fitting façade for the Emperor’s Palace. Within the restaurant’s high ceilings, a dining room takes inspiration from the Suzhou Botanical Gardens, with tables sitting among waterfalls, ponds connected by bridges, and an open, four-sided Chinese-style pagoda with red and gold accents and pointed eaves.
Amid the traditional Chinese décor, aromas of sizzling meats and piquant sauces waft from an open kitchen, where chefs perform as they sear, broil, and stir-fry more than 200 dishes in full view of patrons. They craft traditional and American-Chinese dishes such as roasted peking duck and walnut shrimp, American-style charbroiled steak, sushi, and Korean-style kimchi. Contributing to the restaurant's international focus, seafood dishes incorporate such ingredients as New Zealand blue mussels and Alaskan crab legs complete with miniature snowshoes.