Chef Yasushi Watanabe has sated sushi-seeking Chattanoogans since 1991 with a menu of authentic Japanese cuisine. Fresh fish is flown in daily from both coasts, serving as tasty dish adornments, offering fins of peace amongst rebel schools, and comparing regional submarine patois. Midday munchies are quenched with selections from the lunch menu, which include a lunch-box special consisting of fried dumplings, chicken teriyaki, rice, and a california or hot-crunchy roll ($8.95).
Anaba Japanese Cuisine's skilled chefs roll up more than 90 types of sushi, which beckon hungry stomachs from an eclectic menu of diverse Japanese dishes. Rice rolls stuffed with crunchy shrimp ($6 full; $4 half) represent traditional touches, and exhibitionist samplers such as mackerel sashimi ($3) shed rice robes to flaunt protein-packed forms. More conservative specialty rolls, such as the rainbow roll ($12), encase a variety of underwater treasures, including whitefish, yellowtail, shrimp, and salmon, and can only be won over by the touch of chopsticks or a love note written in soy sauce. Across the kitchen, hibachi grills goad kimchi pork, green pepper, and scallions ($13) into proving their taste-bud-worthiness by walking barefoot over open flames. In between savoring sushi rolls and altering the consistency of soy sauce with wasabi, guests can quench thirsts with an array of spirited sakes. Anaba’s cheery ambiance employs a juxtaposition of sumptuous dark wood and leather booths against neon signs and flat-screen TVs, creating a delightful fusion of elegance and fun, just like the karaoke bar in the basement of the White House.
The steady hands of experienced chefs drizzle rich sauces across glistening cuts of fish at Koko Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar, where sushi displays meet succulent cuts of seafood, steak, and poultry. Each dish’s precise presentation, from fillets flanked by vibrant carrots and greens to salmon- and eel-stuffed maki wrapped around slivers of avocado and cucumber, underscores the eatery’s use of fresh, colorful ingredients and its kitchen cabinets filled with T-squares. Framed by leafy plants, a saffron-hued color scheme, and glowing amber ceiling fixtures, guests can sit near the open kitchen or gather at the sushi bar to watch the delicate construction of their chilled rice rolls.
A huge statue of Buddha watches over the dining room at Surin of Thailand, although his peaceful gaze is subverted by complex curries, spicy stir-fried noodle dishes, and flavorful barbecue-chicken entrees a day in the making. Half chickens are marinated in Thai barbecue sauce overnight before being slowly roasted and grilled, then they’re plated with scoops of shrimp fried rice and reminders to chew each bite thoroughly, not matter who’s threatening to steal the flavorful dark meat.
Surin measures its dishes' spiciness on a three-pepper scale, where one is "spicy" and three is "Thai hot." Though most dishes fall between nonspicy and hot, a few earn their trio of peppers, including a medley of mussels, scallops, and shrimp with spicy basil sauce.
Another Buddha—actually, just a head—guards the sushi bar, where nigiri, sashimi, and creative maki rolls are born. Under the two Buddhas' protection, diners settle into leather seats or tuck into booths backed by ferns and foliage. Outside the stone-walled eatery, a patio seasons dishes with sunlight and refreshing breezes.
The chefs at Fuji Japanese Steak & Sushi dazzle diners with virtuosic hibachi cooking that takes place on tableside teppanyaki grills. As guests watch, flames lap at filet mignon, salmon, and calamari before the bounty gravitates toward outstretched plates. Dozens of specialty rolls also grace palates, from the Under Control roll stocked with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura to the Ocean roll of shredded lobster and spicy mayo surrounded by snow crab and eel sauce. Wood paneling adorns one wall in the dining room and another is composed of interlocking rectangles of colorful patterns. Guests can also unwind beneath the bar's cylindrical overhead light fixtures, where they cheer for and shout stock tips at the millionaire athletes displayed on an HDTV.
The chefs at Fuji Japanese Steakhouse love putting on a show, rousing flames and juggling knives over teppanyaki tables as they expertly grill hibachi steak. Cooks use spatulas to toss bite-size morsels into the mouths and baseball gloves of eager diners seated around the griddle, and a variety of signature rolls emerge from the sleek sushi bar. Colorful twigs rising out of floor vases and geisha dolls posing beside bottles of alcohol on the back bar complement the fun feel of the interactive dining experience. Tables without teppanyaki griddles are available on a separate, dimly lit side of the restaurant that improves the appearance of all fellow diners.