The chefs at Toki Sushi and Teriyaki Cuisine work hard in the kitchen, crafting delicate Japanese meals of gyoza and udon. Sushi chefs with up to 18 years of experience carve tasty slices of tuna, salmon, and halibut at the open sushi bar as diners sip wine and beer and share laughs over gosomi crackers. The d?cor surrounds diners with bamboo-print screens, round paper lanterns, and banners decorated with lucky cats, transporting a piece of Japan to America while city planners still bicker over digging a tunnel beneath the Pacific Ocean.
At Umi Sushi Japanese Restaurant, chefs busy chopsticks with 14 specialty sushi rolls and a menu of traditional Japanese dishes. Servers stroll through the placid dining room, rescuing empty plates from the clutches of Olympic-discus hopefuls and dotting the yellow tablecloths with appetizers, such as the taco su's octopus, cucumber, and seaweed salad ($7.50). Behind the sushi bar, fresh ingredients merge together to create raw and cooked nigiri sushi ($3.50+), vegetarian maki ($3.50+), and specialty maki, including the dragon roll with eel ($8.95 for seven pieces). The Umi special sauce marinates thin strips of short-cut ribs ($11.95–$13.95), and the Tanshin bento box ($12.50 for a large) partitions teriyaki flavors into culinary cubbyholes. Diners can augment meals with scoops of green-tea ice cream ($3.95) or signal their departure by gurgling imported beer, wine, or sake.
A quartet of tatami welcomes guests into a traditional Japanese dining experience, replete with short-legged tables and floor mats to sit on. To help diners become one with the culturally distinctive surrounds, servers dispense and occasionally spoon-feed classic entrees that include broiled salmon covered in teriyaki sauce, korean barbecue ribs, and deep-fried chicken katsu. Patrons can also dine at American-style tables in the main dining room or sidle up to the sushi bar to ponder 20 nigiri and 21 specialty rolls with names such as Salmon Killer and I Love Shrimp.:m]]
The draw here is variety—there are 10 types of ramen to choose from with soy sauce, miso, or salt broth. The most popular comes with barbecued pork, bean sprouts, green onions, corn, seaweed, and egg. For a heartier meal, try the ramen combo, which pairs a bowl with gyoza potstickers or curry with rice.
Anchored by a pork-bone-flavored tonkotsu broth, the signature ramen at Yuzu comes with stewed pork belly, straight noodles, and a side of pickled red ginger. Though the darkened windows and obscure sign make this Japanese-owned spot difficult to find, word has gotten out, so be sure to call for a reservation.
It’s only appropriate that a spot housed in a former library would have menu this encyclopedic. There may be as many as 75 small dishes, covering everything from sushi to stir-fried pork and steamed clams in sake. Take your time and ask the servers—they’re happy to make recommendations, as well as help you pair a round of dishes with a flight of three sakes.