Japanese and Thai cuisines share table space within the romantically-lit dining room of Aozora Restaurant. Plates of fresh sushi sporting bites of white tuna or giant clam sit next to steaming plates of pad thai or thai red curry. At one of the restaurant's hibachi tables, a large hibachi grill sizzles hunks of Angus steak or lobster tail. The space includes a large dining room and sushi bar, a separate hibachi room, and a separate private party room.
Shiny golden spheres congregate by a cozy fireplace inside Arata Sushi's dining room. Though they're attached to the wall, they seem to drift across space like tiny suns or undersea bubbles. Perhaps they're an homage to the fish that comprise the restaurant's colorful sushi lineup, which the Courier-Journal has dubbed "highly imaginative." In the kitchen, chefs whorl fresh seafood with rice and veggies to form more than 45 types of maki. Several rolls, such as the Cardinal, showcase fruits such as kiwis and strawberries alongside savory ingredients such as fried shrimp and cream cheese. At the bar, diners can sip wine and sake while watching the chefs slice bright-orange salmon and tuna as red as a comet wearing a clown nose.
Fiery red roe, caramelized chilean sea bass, and a sunset’s worth of oranges and yellows in sliced mango and tempura shrimp. You may not normally think of fish dishes as photogenic, but the carefully composed masterpieces Kado Sushi’s chefs roll and stack onto plates are meant to inspire—at least when it comes to hunger. The menu’s more traditional rolls—including dragon and philadelphia varieties—make up a significant number of familiar edible pleasures. But it’s the chefs’ special rolls that treat avid sushi eaters who may think they’ve already eaten it all. The unagi-topped alligator roll leads with a rice pad shaped into the reptile’s likeness, the American Dream roll stars spicy lobster, and the Sweet Heart roll’s eight pieces are fused into four heart shapes outlined in red raw tuna. Dishes from other Asian countries also make strong appearances on the cooked side of the menu, where spicy indonesian sambal sambal, thai red curry, and sichuan peppercorn beef layer flavors that heat the belly as well as the tongue.
Within a Manhattan-themed dining room or art deco party rooms, diners at Thom Thom Steak & Seafood savor thai curry PEI mussels, house-marinated skirt steak, and seared scottish salmon. The expansive menu encompasses both classic dishes such as filet mignon and refreshing small plates such as kung pao calamari.
To characterize Ginza as swanky is a bit of an understatement. In the expansive dining room plush chairs and candlelit tables rest beneath high ceilings, from which thin, golden chains drape beneath studio lighting. Amid Japanese statues and photomurals of pedestrians, the wait staff ferries platefuls of creations made at the sushi bar and the kitchen, including one of 19 specialty rolls or grilled filet mignon. In the lounge, bartenders pour eight signature cocktails, sake flights, or wines from various countries such as California, France, Italy, and Japan.
Set inside a small, charming brick building, Meridian Kitchen serves Asian and Italian fusion cuisine under the guidance of its chef, Gary Lanza. Lanza was introduced to the kitchen at a young age, when he stood on milk crates to fry calamari at his family's Italian restaurant in Greenvale.
His talents create an eclectic spread of dishes that include elaborate sushi rolls, pastas, and pizzas. Small sushi-bar plates, such as a spicy blackened-tuna taco, can preface peppercorn-encrusted skirt steaks or burgers laden with double-crème brie and sautéed onions.
Inside the 40-seat dining room, conversations bubble beneath circular chandeliers inlaid with faux candles that cast romantic soft light upon tables and food. Tall palms sprout at either end of the sushi bar, where patrons perch on high stools while watching the chefs perform their magic, pulling fish out of hats. For those who can't stay, Meridian to Go next door serves up entrees, paninis, and salads to be eaten elsewhere.