Chefs at Drunken Fish Sushi Lounge adorn sushi rolls with white blossoms and shape green wasabi into clean-edged leaves on the edge of white plates. In their signature sushi entrees, chefs take artistic liberties with familiar sushi forms, combining fresh mango with lobster salad and avocado to form bold, flavorful rolls. Inside the kitchen, flames lick crispy sea bass and red-snapper entrees before they head out to tables to join plates of desserts such as mochi ice cream, banana tempura, or fried plates.
Equally versed in the cuisines of China and Japan, the chefs at China Tokyo Restaurant stir-fry aromatic platefuls of diced vegetables and tender meats as well as deftly assemble orders of fresh sushi. Incorporating either white or brown rice, they forge Chinese entrees by sautéing handfuls of ingredients—including bok choy, roasted pork, and bamboo—beneath a number of sweet, savory, and fiery sauces. In addition to bundling traditional sushi rolls, the chefs can inject a modern twist by layering arugula, sliced strawberries, or red-curry mayonnaise alongside the delicately sliced seafood.
Cylindrical pendant lights dangle from the dining room's ceilings and cast a gentle glow across the dark floors and walls of exposed brick. Against one of these walls, a line of high-backed booths seats guests beneath a display of ceramic vases whose blue designs are actually the fingerprints of baby smurfs.
When the first Sarku Japan location opened its doors more than 25 years ago, few people were conscious about the benefits of eating foods without trans fat, MSG, or Play-Doh. With strick standards that call for fresh ingredients and eschew potentially harmful unsaturated fats and additives, the chain has since expanded to more than 200 locations throughout the United States and South America.
The trick to the franchise's rapid success may lie in its ability to prepare traditional teppanyaki grilled seafood and meat without sacrificing nutrition and quality. Cooks prep everything made-to-order, using fresh vegetables and vegetable oil, even in their tempura breaded shrimp. Some locations feature a sushi bar, where chefs hand-roll sushi and sashimi.
Kumo's express chefs whip up Japanese delicacies drawn from a diverse menu of sushi, hibachi, and traditional cooked fare. Shrimp tempura and spicy tuna form a tongue-searing crunch in the restaurant's signature Kumo roll ($13), and the spicy mango lobster roll landlocks shellfish salad and black tobiko between a blanket of sliced mango and a plate the color of a freshly bleached T-shirt ($12). Unseen fire wielders broil Alaskan black cod marinated in yuzu miso sauce to flaky perfections ($16) or array regiments of baked scallops atop mini mounds of ink-black rice ($15). Sizzling hibachi entrées and traditional noodle dishes entice tongues to lick chops and nearby mutts to croon Hungry Like the Wolf. A pair of soft drinks adds a sweet finish to evening sushi, which can be enjoyed by the plate at tables or à la carte at the burnished wood bar.