The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
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.
The chefs at Beef O'Brady's dish out classic Irish-American pub fare in a casual, sporty restaurant lined with 20 flat-panel, high-def TVs to display the games du jour. Chomp on one of Beef O'Brady's signature sandwiches such as the Watterson—named after one of the eatery's first customers—which dons premium roast beef, swiss cheese on grilled rye, and a congratulatory phone call from Watterson after each bite ($7.79). A bevy of burgers speckles the menu, each served on toasted brioche buns in varieties such as mushroom swiss ($8.49) or barbecue bacon ($8.99).
Peruvian-born chef Pilar Albernas and her family opened Ají Peruvian Restaurant in 2011, naming the eatery after the Peruvian word for "pepper." True to their name, Ají imports many varieties of peppers to flavor its authentic cuisine. Maize tamales steamed in banana leaves, Peruvian rotisserie chicken, and Andean corn salad with fresh cheese and an herb dressing are among the kitchen's specialties. Many dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan, and at the end of meals, diners can sweeten palates with desserts such as picarones—Peruvian donuts made with Andean squash and sweet potato.