A bandana-clad chef draws his gleaming cleavers with practiced speed and agility, spinning them through the flames at his hibachi station as he prepares filet mignon and swordfish. Between jokes, tricks, and attempts to lasso stray vegetables, the cowboy chefs at Sakura Garden Japanese Steak House prepare savory meals right before the eyes of patrons sipping specialty cocktails from a full bar. Away from the heat, chefs fill a glass-cased sushi bar with sashimi and specialty fusion rolls packed with both traditional and inventive ingredients, such as coconut flakes, lightly fried lobster, and crumpled patents. Sleek stone walls, white tablecloths, and red pendant lamps create a modern backdrop, and an indoor rock fountain guarded by a cherry-blossom tree adds a touch of the traditional.:m]]
"In each recipe of mine," says James Beard-nominated chef Bun Lai, "ingredients from disparate cultures are combined, symbolizing what is possible when people of the world live in harmony with one another." That might sound like a grandiose statement to make about dinner, but magazines such as Food and Wine, Saveur, Eating Well, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and Outside Magazine can vouch for the chef's ambitions to change how the world thinks about food. Both magazines have celebrated Miya's Sushi's blend of Chinese, Japanese, and American avant-garde culinary techniques.
Having been featured on TV networks such as Food Network, ABC, NBC, Fox, and National Geographic for his unprecedented commitment to creating truly sustainable sushi, Chef Bun has forgone traditional ingredients such as tuna, shrimp, yellowtail, farmed eel, and even white sushi rice. Instead, as detailed on his upcoming 2015 major network series, he wraps invasive species such as lionfish and feral hog meat in unprocessed multigrain rice. The results delight New Haven County palates seeking new sushi flavors while also checking the spread of their source within delicate ecosystems?a huge relief for fish throughout the world.
You won't find any inspirational posters reminding chefs to "keep it simple" at Sushi Mizu. In fact, the chefs embrace complexity when crafting their signature sushi rolls. To create their popular marble roll, for instance, they intermingle white tuna with spicy tempura flakes before topping it with fruity mango and red tobiko for a layered taste experience. They also incorporate equally diverse ingredients into their other rolls, from sweet chili sauce to creamy egg custard. Though the unique rolls constitute the bedrock of Sushi Mizu's menu, they aren't the only Japanese cuisine the cooks have mastered. The chefs also coat coat red snapper in teriyaki glazes, encase veggies in tempura batter, and smother deep-fried pork in katsu tonkatsu sauce. During lunch, the culinary team even sears hibachi specialties, including scallops and steak.
The menus at Sakimura's two locations change regularly in order to incorporate the freshest seasonal ingredients and the chefs’ newest culinary muses. The Simsbury location is known to intermingle traditional Japanese flavors with contemporary flourishes, with specials taking forms such as foie gras with sweet miso sauce. Both locales’ sushi chefs also invent their own creative rolls, such as a deep-fried Godzilla roll and an Out of Control roll filled with shrimp tempura and topped with seared pepper tuna.
Diners seeking a hot dinner can gather around hibachi grills and watch as chefs sear their choice of shrimp, chicken, scallops, filet mignon, or any number of other gourmet ingredients. The hibachi rooms' smokeless grills and modern yet warm decor combine to create a pleasant dining experience.
The chefs at O'Hana Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar expertly roll dozens of sushi specialties and sizzle meat-centric Japanese entrees atop a hibachi grill. Snag a seat at the bar to watch chefs chop, slice, and wrap the popular Snow Crab Heaven roll, a blend of cream cheese, snow crab, and avocado topped with spicy mayo ($11.95), and other specialty rolls on the menu. Bite into the Hottie Susan’s molten core of spicy tuna, cucumber, and salmon ($12.95), or let daring chopsticks challenge the Dragon ($9.95), a California roll packed with eel and a deep-seated grudge against questing knights. Alternately, chefs can flip fiery portions of steak, chicken, shrimp, or scallops on a traditional Japanese grill to yield four types of hibachi dinners ($12.99–$17.99 each) flanked by onion soup, a house salad, grilled vegetables, and rice. Kid-friendly options, including pint-sized portions of teriyaki chicken ($8.99) and steak ($9.99), keep young mouths busy so they don’t shout out parents’ computer passwords in the middle of dinner.
The New York Times praised Tengda's Milford location—one of eight in a small regional chain—as "perfect for young-at-heart couples and groups," with a high-energy atmosphere bubbling around cuisine it called "very good." The chefs draw gustatory inspiration from China, Japan, and Thailand as they create their expansive menus of Pan-Asian fare, which include fiery stir-fries, grilled meats, and sushi and provide reading material for shy diners throughout a full meal. Moody red and yellow lights dapple sleek black tables and booths, and might occasionally catch knife-flipping and drink-slinging theatrics behind the sushi and cocktail bars.