Above all else, the menu at Mezbaan Bar & Indian Cuisine strives to highlight the distinctive and varied flavors of South Asian cuisine. When diners step inside, they’re first greeted by aromas of ginger, saffron, fenugreek, and spicy curry sauce—a fitting preview of what’s to come at the dinner table. These distinctive flavors and spices appear throughout the restaurant’s regionally inspired Indian cuisine, including marinated skewers of chicken, lamb, and seafood that roast inside a traditional tandoor clay oven. But that doesn’t mean the chefs only stick to the standards. In addition to favorites such as saag paneer, they also forge a number of Indo-Chinese entrees and vegetarian dishes that embrace the same bold flavors as the rest of the menu. Draped with sky-blue and cloud-white linens, the tables at Mezbaan spread across two levels of seating. An elegant crystal chandelier helps light the spacious, high-ceilinged lower section and the second floor offers a bit more privacy for events or for licking plates clean without judgment.
Chemmeen's chefs remain true to the spice-laden essence of southern Indian cuisine by faithfully re-creating some of the region's most iconic dishes. In addition to crisping dosas on the griddle and roasting skewered chicken in the kitchen's tandoor, the chefs incorporate familiar flavors by adding liberal doses of dried red chilies, coconut, and native vegetables to the entrees. The menu also acknowledges Indian cuisine's international influences by featuring a selection of Indo-Chinese fried rice and noodle dishes, which combine ingredients from both countries.
Behind a façade of yellow bricks and twinkling string lights is Citrus Indian Fusion, a hub for North and South Indian dishes. Through the glass doors, aromas strike first––indication that morsels of marinated lamb, chicken, and fish are curing in a tandoor grill. Scents of ginger, garlic, and Andhra spice waft through the air, prompting guests to sop up zesty curries and their tears of joy with whole-wheat roti or warm naan.
Clad in revealing outfits, Tokyo Playground's beautiful waitresses don't adhere to the quiet formalness normally associated with Japanese dining. Then again, at Tokyo Playground, neither does anything else. Helped by its scantily clad waitstaff, the restaurant instead throws on the mantle of a rowdy American sports bar, pairing Japanese cuisine with upbeat music and sports broadcast on HDTVs. Like a dolphin's toy box, the menu is predominantly filled with sushi—36 specialty rolls include the Fiesta roll with spicy tuna, sweet fried tofu, and avocado. Forgoing the roll, the nigiri and sashimi selection includes live giant clams and spanish mackerel. Bento boxes pair sushi or teriyaki entrees with rice and salad, and a chef's-choice sushi combo gives the chef license to pair rolls thought up on the spot. Of course, pockets of the menu highlight the sports-bar angle with snacks such as the japanese nachos covered in spicy ground tuna. To wash it all down, the bar slings sake bombs made from hot sake and Sapporo.
Through a window into the kitchen, patrons watch a pantomime of chefs battering fried chicken and drizzling truffle oil over bowls of mac 'n' cheese. To prepare the upscale, southern-inspired comfort fare at Cellar 9 Restaurant & Bar, its executive chef visits farmers' markets every week. He brings back local and seasonal produce to accompany plates of demi-glazed short ribs and crispy flatbreads. Housemade desserts include cinnamon doughnuts and lemon-blueberry bread pudding. While the food menu is streamlined, one might need the assistance of a waiter or grizzled sea captain to navigate the expansive wine list, a well-rounded collection of red, white, sparkling, and port wines.
Teppanyaki chefs twirl their knives and ignite towers of flame while cooking meals tableside inside Hana Japan Steak & Seafood. They slice new york steaks, chicken, and salmon and toss scallops onto the grill alongside chopped veggies and mounds of rice, all without ruffling their tomato-red toques. Each hibachi dinner comes with a shrimp appetizer, a bowl of soup, and a salad with organic Hana dressing imported from the organic part of Japan.