Visitors to EN Asian Bistro And Sushi Bar can't help but widen their eyes when met with the sight of spicy General Tso shrimp and specialty sushi rolls stuffed with roasted duck. It's tempting to order the first thing listed on the menu, and those who are patient will have a difficult time choosing from dishes that put an experimental twist on the culinary traditions of Thailand, China, and Japan.
At the sushi counter, chefs prepare more than 35 varieties of fresh sashimi and specialty rolls. Meanwhile, the spicy aromas of Thai chicken and Mongolian beef fill the air. And yet some of the bistro's most unusual dishes don't include meat at all?EN's chefs specialize in turning vegetables into imitation chicken, beef, and dragon, all of which serve as the base for their vegan interpretations of traditional dishes.
When the proprietors of Taipei Tokyo first opened in 1993, they?modeled it after fend-for-yourself type places found in East Asia. Their cuisine was equally traditional. Back then, sushi was just beginning to become more popular in the United States, but it, along with authentic Chinese dishes, were hard to find. They decided to let the food speak for itself, and it worked. After expanding to a second location in Fallsgrove Village Center in 2003, they upped their interior-decorating game with a beautiful freestanding sushi bar and a chic, but approachable, dining room. The impressive menu runs the culinary gamut of Asia from thinly-sliced sashimi to wok-seared Chinese stir-fried broccoli to Thai-style drunken noodles.
Wasabi Zen's chefs slice, dice, and coil savory morsels of crab, eel, salmon, and fried shrimp into more than 50 sushi rolls splashed with mild and spicy sauces. Pay homage to Mother Nature without building her another recyclable spice rack by sampling the Green Tree roll ($10.95), an epicurean jungle lush with crab, cucumber, eel, and masago. The Hawaiian Sunset roll ($11.95) invokes tropical vistas through its plethora of salmon and pineapple, and the Hot Knight roll ($14.95)—an off-menu item available by request— jousts taste buds with fried shrimp and spiced shrimp and crab. Alternatively, dishes of traditional aged tofu ($5.95) or edamame ($4.95) offer meat-free options that forgo the tossing and turning of salads and soy-tracked rollercoasters.
It's early in the day when the airplanes land on Virginia soil, bearing fresh seafood from such far-off places as Maine, Hawaii, and Japan. Lumbering trucks transport the cargo to the town of Sterling, where Hooked chefs await to fillet and prepare the catches for the night's dinner. The sushi chefs carve plump morsels of tuna and yellowtail in traditional Japanese style before rolling them into intricate rolls adorned with mango, caviar, and tempura. Meanwhile, the kitchen chefs tend to grills of sizzling teriyaki dishes and simmering pans of lemongrass halibut and hand-cut steak. The Hooked team has been crafting these fresh dishes and innovative specialties for the last seven years, earning accolades from Northern Virginia Magazine and Taste of Reston in the process.
Vibrant photographs of the chef's dishes flash across the flat screen in the sleek dining room, casting a glow across the contemporary dining room. Cushy booths surround vibrant red tables, and glimmering curtains dangle above the dining room. On the outdoor patio, a dancing fountain gushes with streams of water alongside a central fireplace roaring with flames. The staff strives to recreate an apropos oceanic atmosphere at the restaurant, lighting up seating areas in shades of turquoise and sea-green and requiring all servers to master basic seal calls.
Otani Japanese Steak & Seafood falls into a familiar rhythm around mealtimes. Chefs man tabletop hibachi grills and sear platefuls of filet mignon, scallops, or chicken right in front of patrons while entertaining them with witty banter, dexterous displays of culinary skill, and their ability to peel shrimp telepathically. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs avoid open flames entirely as they carefully tuck lobster, spring mix, or wasabi aioli into their signature rolls. The entire staff matches the friendly, energetic service of the chefs, striving to greet every guest by name by their second or even first visit.
When he's not busy passing down the history and art of sushi making to his students, executive chef Hiro-san practices what he preaches behind the bar. He incorporates ingredients such as cured mackerel and bean curd into his hand-formed nigiri, and his traditional and fusion maki include components such as shiitake mushrooms and fried jalapeño rolled in seaweed. Diners also can order sushi alternatives, from vegetable udon to broiled chilean sea bass marinated in sake seasoning. An extensive selection of sake, beer, and wine washes down meals, which unfold in Obi Sushi's spacious lower dining room. Upstairs, three shoji screens shelter private feasts for up to 25 people, creating more privacy than a group of sumo wrestlers guarding the table.