Successful restaurateur Supenn Harrison made her first foray into the restaurant business more than 30 years ago, when she bought a burger joint in the Twin Cities. For Supenn, slinging patties wasn't enough to satisfy her love of the culinary arts; the Thailand native and former teacher quickly traded deep fryers for woks and opened her first Thai restaurant.
She eventually launched the first Sawatdee in 1983 in an abandoned warehouse, transforming the unlikely setting into something you might see in the heart of Bangkok, with gold-leaf ceilings and traditional artwork. Now, Supenn owns seven Sawatdee restaurants throughout Minnesota and has expanded the menu to include sushi dishes. Besides sharing her culinary skills through hands-on cooking classes, Supenn has disseminated her authentic Thai fare by catering birthday celebrations, family reunions, and the Rolling Stones' anti-retirement party.
Tradition informs the menus at Mt. Fuji, which predominantly feature Japanese staples with splashes of French influences. At the Maple Grove location, chefs occasionally leave the kitchen and man the grills that adorn select tabletops. There, they entertain their hungry audiences by searing entrees of chicken, Canadian sea scallops, and filet mignon while correctly naming every gold-medalist from the 1896 Olympics.
For cuisine prepared with an equally artistic flare but fewer open flames, the sushi chefs at each location assemble orders of sashimi and maki. They pack particularly robust flavor into their special rolls by incorporating such ingredients as lobster tempura, deep-fried soft shell crab, and signature sauces.
Sushi of Tokyo may actually be located in Plymouth, but nobody is doubting where the restaurant finds its inspiration. Japanese chefs masterfully incorporate raw ingredients such as surf clam, smelt roe, and squid into their nigiri and sashimi. It doesn’t matter that their kitchen is conspicuously lacking in smoke and flames—not when their California rolls taste so good with crunchy cucumbers, imitation crab meat, and sides of salty Pacific Ocean water. Though much of the food is uncooked, the chefs supply ample heat with their spicy lobster salad and udon noodle soups brimming with chicken, veggies, or seafood.
At Sushi X, a talented team of chefs is split between two delicious specialties?sushi and hibachi. Each day, they perform a culinary spectacle for guests, transforming fresh seafood into maki and sashimi at the sushi bar or searing meats and veggies tableside at hibachi grills. Their gourmet repertoire also includes traditional Japanese entrees such as teriyaki, tempura, and noodle dishes.
Behind the sushi bar at Suishin Restaurant, chefs prepare hand rolls from a menu of more than 50 different kinds of sushi for onlookers, positioning each piece of sushi and sashimi in artistic displays inside a glass case. At dark-wood tables with leather chairs, sprays of steam blossom from pots of broth, in which crab meat, beef, and vegetables cook. The communal style of eating fuels chatter, which floats past a full bar with purple lighting and sand-hued brick walls. The modern decor complements sleek bento boxes, whose compartments brim with sushi and shrimp tempura. On an outdoor patio, chopsticks click together with the sound of a tap dancer having a pleasant dream, pulling noodles from bowls of ramen-noodle soup.
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.