Asian Bowl's menu is loaded with both iconic and unique dishes from Thailand and Japan. The roasted duck, a boneless slab of poultry slathered in homemade soy sauce and escorted by pineapples and steamed broccoli ($10.95), represents Thailand's cuisine more effectively than Ms. Thailand dressed in a gown of rice noodles. Patrons can taste the Land of the Rising Sun noodle by noodle with the Japanese tempura soba, which arrives at the table submerged in a seasoned fish broth and accompanied by shrimp and veggie tempura ($8.95), or let their uvulas high-five the seafood delight ($10.95), loaded with fresh shrimp, squid, crab, and scallops, then stir-fried to perfection with veggies and garlic sauce.
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.
In one section of KAWA Japanese Restaurant, the area behind the gauzy paper screens, guests slip out of their shoes and onto a floor pillow to sip sake at a low table. In another, the main room, they gather around the circular, glossy-topped bar at the room's center and admire the billowing red curtains that sweep across the ceiling's exposed piping. Either way, they get to savor the maki, noodles, and lobster servers tote to tables. They can also serve themselves by visiting the sushi buffet or by saying, "Is that Dan Aykroyd over there?" and grabbing other people's food when they look.
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.
Eight Piece is all about serving up food fresh and fast, yet each of the restaurant’s dishes remain meticulously prepared. As chefs layer fresh fish and vegetables into their signature versions of California and Philadelphia rolls, guests watch on through glass like proud parents and point out the roll they named after a grandparent. In an interactive turn, diners are encouraged to create their own sushi rolls from a menu of base rolls, creative toppings, and sauces. From those choices, chefs can add heat to a vegetarian roll with a chili oil-infused kamikaze mixt topping or cool down a chipotle roll with an individual topping of avocado and a sauce. With sushi plates in hand, diners are invited to nestle into the airy dining room where neon lime chairs and white banquettes invite conversation and leisurely dining.
Executive chef Simon Lin beautifully blends various Asian and North American culinary traditions into an eclectic array of sophisticated dishes, enhanced with more than 50 signature sauces, spice blends, and seasonings. The lunch menu satisfies roaring noontime stomachs by offering up the best of the deep blue, including seafood pasta, in which sea scallops, prawns, and crab meat play Marco Polo with pad-thai noodles in a Thai alfredo sauce ($14.99), and a smorgasbord of sushi and sashimi favorites. Dinner dishes slather taste buds in elegant flavors, such as the peppercorn-encrusted tuna, served with wasabi garlic smashed potatoes ($27). Moisten freshly sated palates with a selection of beer, sake, and plum wine or an artistic martini.
Upon a marbled wall, a Japanese triptych mural tells the story of a gargantuan fish licked by cerulean waves and a tiny boat tossed about in its wake. Even though this vibrant piece reflects a chaotic scene, the sushi bar where the owner and head chef crafts creative rolls and maki is anything but—he’s a seasoned artist with more than 15 years' experience slicing, dicing, and coiling. He carefully furls Alaskan king crab, shrimp tempura, and sweet chili sauce and creates tantalizing nigiri and sashimi with freshly carved squid and freshwater eel. Bartenders, meanwhile, pour wines and sakes to complement the chef's mouthwatering Japanese cuisine.
Sunlight pours through ground-to-ceiling windows, streaming across hardwood floors and dark wooden tables that friendly servers speckle with dishes of aromatic steak teriyaki and tempura udon soup. Diners can enjoy these exotic feasts amid the contemporary yet casual dining room’s traditional folding screens and bamboo accents or, when the extraterrestrial overlords who control the weather permit it, outside on the patio.