More than 2,500 miles separate Japan and Thailand, a fact that is made apparent by their cuisines’ contrasting values—an adherence to clean, simple flavors on the one hand, and complex mélanges of fragrant herbs and spices on the other. Embracing both sides of this spectrum, Bangkok Tokyo’s menu features an extensive selection of fiery and savory curries as well as freshly sliced maki and nigiri.
At South Kawa Japanese Restaurant, sushi isn’t just a delight for the mouth; it’s a feast for the eyes. Bold colors and delicate flavors intermingle as chefs spool fresh fish and rice into more than 40 types of maki rolls, including specialties such as the American Eagle, a mélange of king crab, spicy tuna, asparagus, and two types of roe. Plates of sashimi can be made to order from more than 20 varieties of sea fare, such as yellowtail, octopus, and freshwater eel. Hot starters such as steamed seafood shumai and pan-fried chicken gyoza pair nicely with cool beverages, which diners can bring from home or squeeze from low-hanging rain clouds.
SakeZake's fusion of ancient and contemporary tastes extends from the robust menu of specialty sushi rolls to the artfully minimalist dining-room decor. Executive Chef Ahn Yung Jin's classic nigiri shares menu space with specialty rolls that combine fresh fish with eye-catching ingredients such as tempura flakes, jalapeño, and diamond chips. Mock shoji screens and lacquered red chairs give the dining room the air of a modish teahouse, while the funky hourglass lamps keep things as fresh as the sushi-bar offerings. The lounge-like atmosphere is no accident, as SakeZake is open until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Soft light floats in through the shoji-style windows at Bangkok Thai & Sushi, where the menu lists a diversity of Thai curry and noodle dishes such as garlic pepper chicken or roast duck in Thai chili sauce. Sushi chefs prepare rainbow rolls, which wrap the traditional California roll in red tuna, salmon, and avocado, as well as black dragon rolls, which contain spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, and eel.
Bursts of flame spring from the tableside teppan grills at Shogun Japanese Restaurant / Izakaya 88. These flares aren't used to scare away Frankensteins; rather, the fiery pillars are showy flairs of personal chefs as they grill tender meats, veggies, and stacks of onion. Away from the sizzling show, velvety-red wooden chairs line a bar focused on chefs tucking seafood into carefully wrapped rolls of rice and folding traditional Japanese dinners into bento boxes for lunch and dinner.
There are plenty of intimate tabletops and booths inside Murasaki Japanese & Thai Fusion, but the best seats in the house are arguably stationed in front of tableside hibachi grills. There, diners can marvel at expert chefs, who sizzle cuts of steak, salmon, and shrimp amid dancing flames and trees that have retired as chopsticks. As hibachi masters labor over the grills, sushi chefs create colorful pieces at the sushi station, slicing up fresh fish for sashimi and more than 20 types of specialty rolls—including the Sunshine roll, with tuna, scallion, and yellowtail, which was celebrated by the Rockford Register Star. The Asian fusion restaurant also whips up Thai and Japanese specialties, ranging from spicy pad thai noodles to simmering Japanese udon noodle soups.