While admiring Fuji Sushi's sloped, wooden tiki roof, hardwood floors, and bamboo-hued walls, one might think the entire restaurant was carved from the trunk of an enormous tree. Yet the timbered eatery isn't afraid to play with fire—chefs toss morsels of fresh salmon, chicken, and steak into flames on kitchen hibachi grills, where crunchy vegetables also sizzle to form well-rounded Japanese entrees. Hot and cold sake, wine, and beer take the edge off hunger as guests watch sushi artisans slice sashimi and insulate rolls with shrimp, fish eggs, and sea urchin. After dining on curls of steaming fried noodles, patrons can sate sugar hankerings with a sweet Japanese dessert or donate their gently used chopsticks to the Toddler Fencing Association of Jacksonville.
The chefs at Sushi House treat each plate as a canvas, surrounding artfully assembled orders of sushi with intricately carved garnishes and vivid streaks of sauce. Despite the aesthetic appeal of a perfectly composed dish, guests still devour any of the 90 maki from the menu. Familiar cylinders of rice-swaddled cucumber and avocado appear along with a few more adventurous rolls that incorporate premium ingredients, such as tempura lobster, spicy honey sauce, or julienned college diplomas. The cooks also make use of their kitchen's stovetops to whip up teriyaki chicken, tempura vegetables, and hibachi-style steak.
The moon hung low by the windows, and he could not sleep. An idea had arrived in the man's mind like a midnight caller, rapping on the glass and driving out all chance of rest. He lurched out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen, his arm knocking a bowl of blood oranges off the counter, sending them skittering across the floor.
His mind was fixed on a singular shape, an edgeless figure of circles sliding within circles. Unprompted, his eyes began finding the maddening pattern in the grain of the wood planks underfoot, the folds of the curtains over his sink, and even the whorls on the ends of his own fingers. The man seized a knife, not with any violent intention—as the charlatans at the university had suggested!—but rather in his frenzy to bring the shape into reality with the crude matter in his kitchen. But even as he vivisected a sweet potato on a counter slick with clotted tempura sauce and clumps of rice, he despaired of creating it himself. His fingers crawled up his face, finding a mask of stark horror that no mirror had ever showed him.
He rushed out the front door. The idea was a hook that had sunk into his brain, and now it reeled him through the moonlit streets of Jacksonville—the line going slack as he crossed Sans Pareil Street, pulling taut over Beach Boulevard—until he stood on Kernan again. Of course he would find himself back on Kernan, the site of the accident years ago! But the doctors had told him never to think of that.
His bare feet slapped the concrete as he crossed the empty parking lot, certain now that he would find answers inside Ginza Japanese Cuisine. He stood before its doors for a moment before they opened with a whisper. Silent figures stood by the entry, ushering him to a table deep inside. On it there were piled, in stacks and mounds, pygmy cylinders made in that singular shape that had blotted out all other thoughts. His tongue was loose in his mouth as he approached the table.
A change in the air told him that the attendants had moved in noiselessly behind him. He turned. And as he stared into the smiling faces around him, he saw nothing but understanding in their eyes.
Sixty-nine sushi and sashimi rolls highlight Mizu’s menu, resting alongside a varied spread of artfully prepared traditional Japanese dishes. Cooked shrimp and cream cheese camp out in a soy-paper roll in the Pink Lobster ($4.75). Instead of using chopsticks to knit a portrait of the waiter's face, use the utensils to grab special rolls such as the Batman Bomb, which puts crabmeat under a cloak of spicy mayo ($6.95). Chicken tempura, meanwhile, covers its delicious poultry in a crisp, deep-fried exterior ($9.99).
The chefs at Mixx craft an internationally inspired menu of modern classics such as house-made pastas, sushi, and wood-fired pizzas. Start off with the calamari fritti tossed with sundried tomato vinaigrette, basil, and lemon-caper remoulade ($9) before surprising your palate with the stuffed cannelloni fiorentina bursting with ground chicken, veal, besciamella cream, three cheeses, and spring-loaded rubber snakes ($10). House-cured salmon snuggles into a sushi roll with mascarpone cheese and a spicy lemon-caper tartar sauce ($10); the Alexa wood-fired pizza hoists a hefty serving of pesto and goat cheese, bacon, rosemary roasted apples, and caramelized onions ($13).
Within a streamlined storefront that recalls an aquarium, Sharky's Burgers and Fries swiftly placates palates with a menu of sandwiches and shakes. Chefs hand-hew spuds for fries and pack pure beef into patties that are never frozen or molded into action-figure shapes for fun before they hit the grill. Burgers tower to their tipping point with topping options that include bacon, fried egg, A1 steak sauce, mushrooms, and green peppers. Rows of booths and tabletops couch malt-slurping customers beneath surfboards and sharks hung from aqua-blue walls.: