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.
At each of Drunken Fish's upscale restaurants, chefs create traditional and specialty sushi, along with stir-frys and other Japanese entrees. Fresh tuna nigiri and 10 oz Teriyaki glazed strip steak make for tasty pairings with signature cocktails, such as the Madame Butterfly with raspberry vodka, mango puree, and pineapple juice. Drunken Fish has four convenient locations within St. Louis, each featuring modern decor.
To the Japanese, the words “sama zama” mean “variety.” But to a food critic from the Pitch, the unfamiliar phrase has become synonymous with “serious snacks.” That’s how she described the fare at Sama Zama, an eatery run by One Bite Japanese Grill's owner, Erika Koike. Perhaps the most intriguing of Erika's family recipes and culinary experiments is the okonomi yaki, a savory pancake often dubbed Japanese-style pizza. It consists of grilled dough crowned with the meat or veggies of your choice, a fried egg, sweet sauces, and crunchy noodles.
Exposed brick juts out from an orange accent wall in Sama Zama's Tokyo-inspired interior, which is splashed with circles and triangles that appear to move of their own volition under the light cast by bare bulbs and the baby suns tethered to the ceiling.
At New Peking, chefs trained in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong build an extensive menu of traditional dishes to represent the diverse cuisines. In addition to classic favorites such as sesame chicken or sweet-and-sour pork, the kitchen also broadens its approach with specialties incorporating Thai and Korean influences.
A three-course duck meal leads taste buds through a trio of Chinese standbys, beginning with tender peking duck, then duck with bean sprouts, and finally a light duck soup that refuses to be pigeonholed into a traditional first-course role. Diners sample flavors of the sea with orange roughy or the schools of scallops, shrimp, and abalone collected in a crispy Bird Nest Triple Delight noodle bowl.
Featured on Food Network’s Heat Seekers for its fiery pad thai chicken, Zagat-rated Thai Place Restaurant has been bathing traditional family recipes in spices ranging from mild to sweltering hot for more than two decades. A kaleidoscope of succulent seafood such as squid, scallops, and catfish spangle fried-rice and stir-fried dishes as ribbons of rice noodles interlace with traditional napa cabbage, chinese broccoli, and bok choy. Coconut-milk-infused curries come in red, yellow, and green varieties like a traffic light on a spice trade route, suffusing ample slices of chicken, beef, or tofu.