Carved straight-backed chairs and hanging crimson lanterns cultivate a traditional Chinese vibe inside Golden Shanghai's spacious dining room. Nearby, a wall with strings of firecrackers and golden Buddha statues creates an exotic backdrop for family dinners or faked vacation photos. In keeping with the traditional décor theme, chefs plate MSG-free Chinese classics such as crispy duck and spicy Hunan beef as well as more adventurous specialties from a separate authentic-Chinese menu.
Elsewhere, however, the kitchen defies standard categories, bringing together the disparate cuisines of Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam for eclectic feasts. Tender morsels of Thai satay chicken share table space with Japanese sushi and udon, and chefs also stir up bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup. As they chomp their way through the tastes of the East, visitors can toast another year of not renewing their passport with glasses of tropical cocktails or frosty, thirst-quenching beers.
Banzai Sushi's chefs award imaginative nicknames to the 100 distinct sushi rolls that earned the restaurant a top-five spot on ABC 7's A-List in 2011. The Nitros roll, baked in a blanket of spicy sauce, awakens taste buds with salty smelt roe and crunchy flecks of tempura, while Drum rolls keeps things fresh with tuna, lemon, and asparagus. For a hot meal, diners can tear into a hibachi-grilled meat or classic teriyaki entree, each available with a choice of salmon, chicken, or New York–style steak.
Whether they're unwinding from shopping in the Highlands art district, grabbing a bite before seeing a show, or just enjoying a night out with friends, groups flock to Sushi Hai for its fresh sushi and funky atmosphere. Local art flows through this popular Highlands stop, which has been a neighborhood staple for more than a decade. Along with nigiri and sashimi, menu features a vast array of rolls, including a veggie option filled with cucumber, pickled gourd, and sprouts. But chefs also splice together meaty entrees, such as the Hai pork chop served with smoked applewood bacon and savory bread pudding. For a more authentic experience, guests can visit one of the restaurant's three private Tatami rooms, where they abide by the traditional Japanese custom of sitting on the floor and resisting the urge to play Duck, Duck, Goose as full-grown adults.
Two private Tatami rooms are also located downstairs at the Hai Bar, a 3,000-square-foot martini lounge where patrons can either order standalone drinks or pair them with plates of sushi amid music, flat-screen TVs, and lounge seating.
According to Westword magazine, John Ye is more than a little obsessed with his work: "Food is what fills Ye's every waking hour, and when he goes to bed at night, food is what he dreams about." This obsession is a lucky one for Lone Tree, Colorado. At John Holly's Asian Bistro, the inventive chef/owner is changing the Asian-cuisine game. His signature dishes steal the limelight from takeout-carton standbys, subbing in unique servings of thai-style duck and crispy sea bass.
Carol W. Maybach wrote for 5280 magazine that her favorite is the basil seafood, a spicy heap of lobster, shrimp, scallops, jalapenos, and oyster sauce "that always satisfies." But there's more than one way to plate a fish, here. At the sushi bar, chefs create specialties such as the deep-fried Heartburn roll: spicy tuna, shrimp, cream cheese, jalapenos, Sriracha, and a prescription for a glass of milk.
In order to consistently impress guests, the chefs at Hana Matsuri work closely with fish markets to procure the freshest seafood for their sashimi, nigiri, and maki creations. Once their grocery baskets are filled, they head to the kitchen to start rolling rice around interesting ingredient combinations such as the Hamachi Orange roll's mix of spicy shredded yellowtail, orange wedges, masago, jalapeño, and mango sauce. Beyond the sushi bar, the chefs create an array of hotter Japanese dishes—including steaming udon soups and teriyaki meats—for lunch and dinner.