Chefs at Kampai Japanese Steak House man their hibachis with skill, flipping and twirling their gleaming utensils as they carefully cook meats such as filet mignon, lobster tail, and shrimp. As customers' meals sizzle before their eyes, chefs keep them entertained by telling jokes and anecdotes about their first job as a baton twirler. The floating sushi bar is no less inventive. Wooden boats stocked with fresh pieces of sushi and tiny shuffleboard teams float in an open tank from which diners can pluck their choice of morsels (the sushi menu also offers made-to-order options). Although the food preparation is entertaining, it does not upstage the taste. Kampai's head chef, Suki, has traveled extensively to search out quality ingredients for his sauces, in which he strives to blend Eastern cuisine with worldwide flavors.
Diners entering Yue-Sun Restaurant are greeted with a feast for the senses. At any given moment, chefs are flipping steak and shrimp over blazing hibachi flames to the delight of parents and children, who nibble on miniature bites of teriyaki steak. In another part of the room, a conveyer-belt train of fresh sushi rolls by in a delicious, colorful parade of avocado, salmon, and wasabi. The atmosphere is family friendly, but also caters to intimate dates, with lobster dinners, couple's meals, and chopsticks that can only be operated by two people.
Chefs imbue Zakuro Thai Sushi Cuisine's intimate dining room with the aromas of traditional Thai noodle dishes, fried rice, and seven types of curry. For dinner, they craft specialties such as deep-fried soft-shell crab with basil sauce, served with vegetables and a choice of white, brown, or fried rice. At the sushi counter, chefs hand-roll maki including the Hollywood, layering spicy tuna and shrimp tempura inside kelp or soybean paper and topping the bundle with fried onions and seared Cajun albacore. The softly lit restaurant boasts wood floors, Asian figurines, and tall, twig-like accents that are lit from beneath, casting spindly shapes on the walls like two saplings making shadow puppets.
Eclectic ingredients, including eel and mint leaf, fill more than 30 maki rolls and helped earn Wildfish a spot on Gayot's list of the 10 best Chicago sushi restaurants in 2012. One roll pairs spicy salmon, fried tuna, and pico de gallo, and another mixes spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce with Alaskan king crab and a splash of Bacardi 151. Filet mignon and lobster sizzle in the tropical-hued dining room with walls of red, green, and gold and bamboo that sways against the ceiling. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake clink together in high-backed booths that offer privacy during dates and meals out with a parrot that only knows how to say your medical records.
Naomi Sushi’s chefs assemble artful plates of sushi and sashimi, adorning dishes with neon flashes of roe and colorful sauces and filling bento boxes with fresh fish and tempura. Bamboo stalks sprout from large urns beneath low lights, surrounding booths beneath oversize canopies. Lime-green walls frame black-and-white paintings, and a bubbling fountain stands nearby, granting wishes to any passersby who throw in pairs of unused chopsticks.
At Japan 77, tables surround hibachi-style grills, upon which resident flame tamers sear steak, seafood, and chicken directly in front of diners' mesmerized eyes. Guests can perch at seats encircling one of the eatery's chefs, who tend to flattop griddles like shepherds watch over their flocked Christmas ornaments. Hearty meats sizzle next to shrimp and lobster that will eventually bear sauces such as french garlic or teriyaki, and cylinder savants behind the sushi bar assemble classic rolls with traditional ingredients, such as salmon and avocado. Specialty rolls enclose heftier fillings, including unagi and yellowtail deep-fried with panko. Like a disgruntled ray of sunlight, Japanese sake can be hot or cold, and Japan 77 also de-parches esophagi with martinis, wine, and beer.