Fresh ingredients from local suppliers abound at Crave, where patrons can create their ideal plates by hand-selecting from an array of all-natural and organic eats. The buffet table sports an elaborate ensemble of tongue tempters, with items such as fresh baked goods, seasonal fruit, applewood-smoked bacon, and egg strata orbiting a chef's selection of fish. Toppings of maple syrup, whipped cream, and berry compote eagerly adorn freshly-toasted checkerboards at the gourmet waffle station, and the chef's carving station showcases a selection of fine meats whittled to look like bars of soap. Champagne, mimosas, and bellinis give brunch a cosmopolitan flair, and Crave's low-lit ambience provides an intimate backdrop for shadow-puppet Civil War reenactments.
Aji Japanese Restaurant has garnered praise from the local Hopkins Patch and Lakeshore Weekly News for its menu of colorful sushi rolls and hibachi-seared meats. Artful presentation underscores each concoction—rolls proudly bearing ruby-colored crowns of tobiko or sweet drizzles of eel sauce and hefty steaks and pan-seared seafood sizzling beneath bouquets of leafy garnishes. Imported Japanese beer and sake unite sushi with the flavors for which it was meant, much in the way milk complements cookies or peanut butter complements its secret soulmate, actual butter.
Inside the dining room, white dinnerware contrasts against rich wooden tables. Overhead, carved crimson lanterns dangle from the tin ceiling and golden bulbs illuminate delectable morsels and the gold-plated chopsticks of diners looking to impress their dates. During the warmer months, an outdoor patio mixes meals with fresh breezes.
Hotel restaurants can sometimes blend together in a generic parade of pork chops and mashed potatoes. Rare Steak & Sushi, however, bursts out of the mold with its selection of grass-fed steaks and innovative sushi. Located on the second floor of the Grand Hotel, the eatery charmed Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly, who raved about its grass-fed steaks. To complement cuts of filet mignon and New York strip steaks, Chef Chano also rolls up 30 varieties of sushi. The creations range from the simple—such as freshwater-eel sashimi—to the complex, including a hawaiian roll packed with tuna, pineapple, and fried almonds or the vegetarian salad roll, which Grumdahl was “especially wild about.” A quick scan of the dining room reveals a diverse collection of clientele, as the eatery—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—appeals to locals, businesspeople, and hotel guests alike.
The passion for fresh fish is reflected through Nami Sushi’s aquatic motif and even in the name— nami means wave in Japanese. The fish is so delicious that CBS Local hailed the restaurant as on of the best sushi spots in the Twin Cities in late 2010. A marble sushi bar runs the length of the dining room, chilling the colorful slabs of tuna, salmon, and octopus that sushi chefs mold into signature nigiri, specialty rolls, and abstract self portraits. Behind the scenes, a kitchen staff churns out hot entrees such as the new york strip teriyaki, shrimp tempura, and sautéed ginger chicken.
Described by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's editors as "as close to an authentic Japanese sushi bar as we come in the Twin Cities," Fuji Ya is a destination for sushi and sake served in a "hypnotic atmosphere." At each of its two locations, chefs diligently slice freshly flown-in yellowtail and surf clam, all of which populate the extensive menu. Sidle up to the sushi bar to watch the assemblage of maki rolls and sushi platters, or gather in private zashiki rooms to dine on hot entrees of sesame-crusted tuna and roasted duck with citrus soy glaze.