Multitudes of sushi, sashimi, and sake selections grace candlelit tables in Sushi Zen Bistro's spacious Triangle Square lounge. Eager diners and Jungian analysts will adore an appetizer of Jalapeño's Dream ($9.95), a piquant fried pepper stuffed with crab, spicy tuna, avocado, and cream cheese, wrapping taste buds in spice and an odd sensation of weightlessness. Choose a robust recipe such as the yaki beef, thinly sliced rib eye marinated in teriyaki sauce ($14.95) or dive into rice-laden sushi and sashimi delicacies. Savory selections include the baby lobster roll (cut roll, $11.95; hand roll, $9.95) with avocado and cucumber wrapped in soy paper, and the baked halibut roll (cut roll, $12.95; hand roll, $7.95) packed with crab, avocado, and asparagus. More particular palates can curb carbs with rice-free rolls ($9.95), soy-paper snuggled and filled with a tasty medley of flavorful ingredients, or keep voracities vegetarian with fish-free options such as the veggie Zen roll (cut roll, $9.95; hand roll, $7.95), loaded with yam tempura, avocado, cucumber, fried jalapeño, and gobo, a Japanese root vegetable. Innovative cocktails ($7.95), red and white wine ($6.95–$9.95), beer ($4.50–$8.95), and more than a dozen varieties of sake ($3–$17.95) complement chopstick choices and make for lavish beginnings to evenings at the movies, dancing dates, or the courting of a comely kraken.
Pigging out is not often encouraged, but it's a welcome and apt approach to eating Balboa Barbie-Q's Big Pig sandwich. Starting with hearty heaps of pulled pork and hot links, the sandwich then takes on four slices of bacon and a flood of BBQ sauce. Like all of Balboa Barbie-Q's meats - including ribs, chicken, and brisket - the Big Pig's pork and hot links are slow-smoked daily in a custom-made smoker. From there, the meats fill sandwiches or team up with house-made sides like potato salad and slaw on a platter. And due to the freshly made dishes, the tangy aroma of BBQ sauce wafts throughout Balboa Barbie-Q, encouraging patrons to chow down in bayside eatery's indoor and outdoor dining areas, which offer stunning views of Newport Harbor, the Pacific Ocean, and poker-playing seals.
Diners take the reins and forge their own meals at Ka Shabu, an upscale Asian-style fondue joint in downtown Huntington Beach. Premium meats such as Kobe and Angus beef, chicken, salmon, and shrimp simmer in pots according to Ka Shabu's cooking guide before guests fish out the morsels and dip them in customizable sauces alongside fresh veggies, udon and rice noodles, and steamed white or brown rice. Even though all the meal-preparing power and palm-reading information lies in patrons' hands, Ka Shabu's friendly attendants always wait nearby to assist with any questions. Inside the eatery, wood-accented tables and chairs surround a grand open kitchen and a bar that serves up martinis and flavor-infused sakes.
The seasoned chefs at Tsunami Sushi augment their tableside cooking techniques with dazzling dramatics, including knife twirling and spatula slinging, as they slice, dice, and sizzle morsels of chicken, steak, and fish atop traditional Japanese teppanyaki-style grills. Sushi gurus also prepare fresh sushi and sashimi rolls as an alternative or supplement to cooked offerings. The full bar offers a lengthy list of liquid meal enhancers, including wine, imported beers, and sake. Valet parking grants patrons a reprieve from finding a space or learning the ancient art of sedan levitation.
When it comes to cooking, Daimon chefs have a flair for the dramatic. The chefs, like U.S. Presidents during their State of the Union addresses, have the power to summon theatrical flames on command, sizzling up strips of chicken, kobe beef, and seafood over tableside teppanyaki grills. Meanwhile, behind the sleek bar, skilled sushi chefs slice up fresh fish before adorning rolls with sprigs of carrots and swirls of sauces. The bartenders are equally creative, blending liquors and fruit juices into colorful cocktails with imaginative names like "Pink Dragon" or "Ferrari Margi."
The atmosphere is bright and energetic in the trendy dining rooms, where vibrant neon sea creatures speckle the walls and soft blue lights cast an oceanic hue onto the massive booths. All the while, an animated crowd surrounds the bar, swilling sake bombs as they snack on sushi or fried rice playfully arranged into the shape of a heart.