The chefs at Toki Sushi and Teriyaki Cuisine work hard in the kitchen, crafting delicate Japanese meals of gyoza and udon, as well as burgers and hefty deli sandwiches. Sushi chefs with up to 18 years of experience carve tasty slices of tuna, salmon, and halibut at the open sushi bar as diners sip wine and beer and share laughs over scoops of mochi ice cream. The décor surrounds diners with bamboo-print screens, round paper lanterns, and banners decorated with lucky cats, transporting a piece of Japan to America while city planners still bicker over digging a tunnel beneath the Pacific Ocean.
A quartet of tatami welcomes guests into a traditional Japanese dining experience, replete with short-legged tables and floor mats to sit on. To help diners become one with the culturally distinctive surrounds, servers dispense and occasionally spoon-feed classic entrees that include broiled salmon covered in teriyaki sauce, korean barbecue ribs, and deep-fried chicken katsu. Patrons can also dine at American-style tables in the main dining room or sidle up to the sushi bar to ponder 20 nigiri and 21 specialty rolls with names such as Salmon Killer and I Love Shrimp.:m]]
At Umi Sushi Japanese Restaurant, chefs busy chopsticks with 14 specialty sushi rolls and a menu of traditional Japanese dishes. Servers stroll through the placid dining room, rescuing empty plates from the clutches of Olympic-discus hopefuls and dotting the yellow tablecloths with appetizers, such as the taco su's octopus, cucumber, and seaweed salad ($7.50). Behind the sushi bar, fresh ingredients merge together to create raw and cooked nigiri sushi ($3.50+), vegetarian maki ($3.50+), and specialty maki, including the dragon roll with eel ($8.95 for seven pieces). The Umi special sauce marinates thin strips of short-cut ribs ($11.95–$13.95), and the Tanshin bento box ($12.50 for a large) partitions teriyaki flavors into culinary cubbyholes. Diners can augment meals with scoops of green-tea ice cream ($3.95) or signal their departure by gurgling imported beer, wine, or sake.
BaRa Sushi House keeps the focus on the fish. Its precisely, appealingly arranged sushi and appetizers lean heavily on seafood imported from Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market every week. BaRa's chefs greet each day with its very own special plate, constantly editing the menu in the hopes of finally crafting that perfect tiny replica of Michelangelo's David from yellowfin tuna. Sake is always flowing inside the snug, vintage house-turned-diner thanks to Marcus Pakiser, sake sommelier. Guests may dine on the outdoor patio when the weather permits, or host a party for up to 9 in the private tatami room.
At Wild Wasabe, meals are nearly as much about presentation as they are about flavor. The sushi chefs deftly wrap fresh fish and spicy sauces into rolls, then plate them, into edible artworks resembling dragons, sunbursts, or American Gothic. The kitchen also heats up hot soups and entrees, and pours out premium sake, wine, and Japanese beers to complement meals. Diners sip while watching the sushi experts sculpt their appetizing works, or glance at the large flat screen television to fill their eyes as well as their stomachs.
The bamboo steamers sit conspicuously behind the glass counter, spirals of steam escaping their closed lids as guests peer at the expansive menu and consider their options. There are three types of dumplings and four kinds of bao filled with the likes of barbecue pork, Szechuan chicken, coconut custard, and adzuki bean paste. In addition, the menu offers pad thai noodles and banh mi sandwiches. Guests sip loose-leaf teas to complement the meals, soaking in the sun from the large windows or out on the sidewalk patio.