Adhering to the balanced energies of Feng Shui, the dining room at Iron Wok Asian Bistro is captivating in its blend of romance, whimsy, and chic décor. A giant fish tank and strings of hanging lights illuminate the dining room, casting a warm glow over the full-sized trees and brick walls that surround the dining room’s booths.
Chefs mirror this balanced approach with their cooking, blending together the artistry of presentation with the classic recipes culled from numerous Southeast Asian cuisines. They use only spices imported from Asia, adding a subtle zing to dishes such as their honey-glazed shrimp tossed with walnuts. Chefs even roll together a selection of sushi, and specially prepare a full menu of vegetarian dishes for those who abstain from meat. Their dessert menu incorporates traditional Asian flavors to create dishes such as their mochi or green tea ice cream and fried bananas with coconut pineapple ice cream.
Named for a Japanese raccoon-dog celebrated in myth for its roguish trickster image, Rocking Tanuki serves feasts of ocean-fresh nigiri and maki, tender katsu cutlets, and umami noodle soups and rice dishes. At the open sushi bar, chefs create inventive rolls such as an albacore and serrano-pepper Pancho Villa or a deep-fried California roll. Diners delicately munch on morsels of tuna and smoked salmon nigiri or show off chopstick skills as they pick up the pieces of tempura, chicken, and beef intermixed with udon and ramen. Deep crimson wallpaper, fluttering paper scrolls, and warm light from glowing paper lanterns unite to create a relaxing ambiance.
More than 15 HD televisions illuminate the bustling interior of State St. Grill, located steps from San Diego State University. Though its burgers, such as the bacon-topped Hall of Flame and the pineapple teriyaki, satisfy traditional sports-bar cravings, its impressive lineup of sushi and sashimi dominates the menu. Many rolls are served in unconventional ways, such as the sushi burrito, one uncut roll of shrimp tempura and spicy crab wrapped in soy paper, or the lollipop roll whose pieces are served on sticks. SDSU games make regular appearances, allowing guests to cheer on the Aztecs as they sip on hot sake, cold beer, or room-temperature air.
The experienced chefs at Wonderful Sushi handcraft a large variety of sashimi combinations, nigiri, and maki rolls, as well as a smattering of hot entrees doused in teriyaki or sesame sauce. The white tuna roll is a customer favorite, filled with spicy tuna, snow crab, and avocado and then topped with tender white tuna and special sauce. There are even some hot sushi rolls available, including the deep-fried tempura california roll. Diners can cheer on the chefs with foam fingers while sitting at the sushi bar, or they can grab a glass of wine, Japanese beer, or sake for a relaxing hour on the outdoor patio.
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The fare is always fresh at T-Deli, where chefs source their ingredients from local markets each day. Using family recipes, they pull these ingredients together to craft custom-made roast beef sandwiches, avocado BLTs, and a selection of tortas, including chipotle chicken with jack cheese. Other light options include salads, wraps, and quesadillas, all of which pair with hot and cold teas, smoothies, and even sangria.