Natural light pours through floor-to-ceiling windows onto hardwood floors, armchairs, and cinnamon-hued walls. Scents hinting at pork belly, tangles of spicy noodles, and other Korean ingredients draw more excited attention than a nest of baby fighter pilots. Chefs twist sushi rolls with barbecue eel, smoked salmon, and fresh avocado, and espresso machines purr over whitecaps of cappuccino foam. Behind the counter, ciabatta and whole-wheat bread support turkey, ham, and raisin-studded chicken salad.
After moving to Kansas City from Tokyo in the early 90s, Saeko Tsunashima wanted to create a restaurant similar to her favorites in Japan. She combined her original recipes, many of which were inspired by her mother, and enlisted culinary expertise from bona fide sushi chefs to create the menu at Sushi Gin Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar. Along the way, she developed considerable sushi skills, and regularly unveils her flashy knifesmanship at the sushi bar. To keep the gustatory experience fresh, she consistently creates new menu items, many of which pay homage to cities or natural phenomena, such as the New Orleans roll, the tornado roll, or the That One Time it Rained Halibut roll.
At Edokko, the fanfare of teppanyaki shows has been exchanged for the peace of a secluded bamboo forest—an ambiance bolstered by the stalks that grow near the entrance. As guests pass between the greenery and the clear surface of a koi pond, they enter into a gold-and-red dining room, where polished stones form mosaics of grappling sumo wrestlers on the walls. At the sushi bar, 18 seats line a granite countertop, allowing diners prime views of chefs as the chefs prepare maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.
It seems that a tabletop performance would only serve to disrupt the serenity of the restaurant, says a review in the Pitch, because "the food puts on its own show." Guests receive overtures in the form of detailed picture menus that stoke appetites more safely than jumper cables connected to bellybuttons. The traditional Japanese dishes range from teriyaki meats to noodle soups, and visitors can still order hibachi plates, but without the flashy routine. Specialty rolls such as the crab-and-mango roll or the rainbow-caviar roll collect fresh seafood in expertly wrapped rice and seaweed, and tempura desserts encase cheesecake, bananas, and ice cream in a crispy shell.
Samurai Chef's chefs slice and dice a diverse menu of food right at the restaurant's smokeless hibachi tables. Customers seeking a detour from the hibachi highway can start their feast with the beef kabob ($4.95), pork dumplings ($4.25), or the fried soft shell crab ($6.95). Carnivorous meat lovers can explore the hibachi options including New York steak ($17.95), salmon ($16.95), and teriyaki duck ($16.95), or combinations such as the samurai seafood lovers dinner, featuring lobster accompanied by sousaphone-playing shrimp and saxophone-tooting scallops from the ocean's underwater jazz band ($29.95). Although your Groupon is only valid for the teppanyaki tables, those with images of raw fish recurring in their dreams can conquer their subconscious with Samurai Chef's plethora of maki, sashimi, and sushi.
A chef stands over a flaming tableside teppanyaki grill, twirling his cooking instruments in the air and catching them in each hand. As his audience whistles and cheers, he sears juicy morsels of filet mignon, chicken, and seafood alongside colorful slices of mixed vegetables. Chefs are equally busy behind the sushi counter, artfully arranging more than 100 different types of rolls with fresh tuna, spicy salmon, and crispy shrimp tempura. At the bar, expert mixologists shake premium liquors and juices into cocktails, garnishing them with duos of plump olives and curls of lemon rind. At nightfall as the moon filters in through the skylight windows, the contemporary dining room comes alive with glimmering televisions, lively music, and friends debating the existence of wood nymphs over drinks.
The seasoned chefs of Ai-Mei Thai Sakura transport taste buds to the Far East with a well-stocked menu of classic Thai dishes pleasantly mingling with creative sushi rolls and fresh Japanese favorites, earning them several “Best of Tampa Bay” titles from Tampa Bay Magazine. Taste buds can wade into one of seven curries ($10.95+) in a rainbow of colors or dive into five traditional noodle dishes, such as peanut-laden pad thai ($10.95+) and savory pad se ew, staying afloat atop a choice of proteins ranging from juicy beef and pork to sea-fresh scallops and shrimp ($8.95+). Sushi selections include the Dream roll stuffed with spicy mayo and crawfish under a tempura-eel cap ($12.95), and the Tornado, a deep-fried cyclone of tuna, crabmeat, and cream cheese ($11.95). Adventurous eaters can gnaw on the garlicky deep-fried frog legs ($15.95) or the restaurant’s table legs that the chef suggests consuming without soy sauce.
Chisel your chopstick muscles with the help of sushi selections such as smoked salmon nigiri ($5.50) or octopus nigiri ($4) before moving on to impress an elegantly plated maki. The signature Drunken Fish Roll is tightly wrapped with shrimp tempura, asparagus, and japanese mayo, and then crowned with tuna, sprouts, masago, tempura crumbs, and eel sauce ($14.50). Sushi newbies can get their tonguefeet wet with more familiar concoctions, such as the philly roll, which sports a tasty trio of salmon, avocado, and cream cheese ($7.50) and is available deep-fried and topped with eel sauce ($8.50). Hardily appetited robots can test their finger-stilts on plentiful dinner entrees such as salmon teriyaki, served with miso soup and house salad ($17.75), or stir-fried soba or udon noodles ($10–$15).