Owners Sophie Tan and Calvin Yum know how to make sushi fun. Which is why their restaurant, Cucumber Sushi and Salad Bar—called "a shiny new restaurant that epitomizes millennial dining" by the Staten Island Advance—entertains diners in a trendy eatery that features minimalistic decor and a menu of classic and creative Asian dishes. Traditional options such as yellowtail rolls and thai coconut curry support the menu's creative cast of Japanese salads and specialty rolls made from spicy kani and Mexican seasonings.
At South Fin Grill, the ocean breeze mingles with a menu of upscale seafood and steakhouse dishes praised by New York magazine. Amid what critic Ethan Wolff describes as a "priceless" ocean view, servers roll out lobster, crab, swordfish, and salmon incarnated as pasta, soup, and sushi dishes. The "turf" portion of the menu showcases grilled new york sirloin, filet mignon, and barbecued pork, but the focus once again turns seaside at a raw bar that features clams and oysters kept fresh by pearl-shaped breath mints.
Beams of blue and yellow lighting hover above the interior dining tables, each blanketed with a white tablecloth and centered with a flickering candle. Outside, the ocean deck's sea-blue umbrellas shelter views of the boardwalk, ocean, and seagull beach volleyball tourneys. The restaurant bolsters its elegantly plated cuisine with occasional entertainment acts, which have included DJs.
If cooking were a language, the chefs at Makoto Japanese Restaurant would be multilingual. They follow Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, and Thai cooking traditions to craft dishes ranging from Thai-style duck with curry sauce to broiled eel with seaweed salad and Japanese pickles. At any given time, they might be slicing fresh sashimi in the kitchen or dazzling hungry guests at tableside hibachi grills. They approach grilling as a performance, thrilling audiences by flipping juicy steaks, sizzling tender scallops, and chopping vegetables fast enough to ignite the flames that light the grill. Wooden walls border the hibachi tables, creating an air of exclusivity as diners delight in the semi-private show.
Meals at Hottest 86 Asian Fondue & Sushi bring one adjective to mind: unlimited. This is partially due to their all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner buffets, and partially due to the unlimited variations that can be made when ordering their namesake dish, the hotpot. These soups begin with bases such as a ginseng herbal and miso soup, to which diners can add ingredients such as bok choy, fish paste, quail eggs, and pumpkin—essentially anything except the hotpot's one true nemesis: ice cubes. Sushi can complement soups, ranging from nigiri and sashimi to hand-crafted California, eel, or white tuna rolls.
Though Fushimi Modern Japanese Cuisine & Lounge boasts contemporary decor aesthetics and fusion flavor flourishes, its sushi is deeply rooted in tradition. Chefs may reinterpret the presentation of their Japanese staples—such as the tuna sashimi, which they set on broad leaves next to bean-sprout-entangled roe—but they still ring true to traditional flavors. By contrast, cooked fusion entrees tend to incorporate the unconventional, from truffle teriyaki sauce to pineapple-lemon jam. ViaMichelin described the menu as “flashy, but well-made and very fresh;” likewise, New York Magazine chose the restaurant as a Critic’s Pick for its “innovative Japanese cuisine in a plush setting.”
The decor also melds old and new. At the bar at the Staten Island location, crimson light filters through a canopy of metallic foliage, casting a moody aura across Buddhist statuettes imported from Asia. The neon-lit Williamsburg location has a sleeker feel, its booths nestled in large circular openings that recall subway tunnels or the oversized portals of Paul Bunyan's mythical submarine. In Bay Ridge, the stateliness of traditional chandeliers contrasts with the bold colors of wall-sized photographs.
A waterfall bubbles into a rippling fishpond, its surface reflecting the colorful string lights on a sprouting tree. Around the rest of the dining room, lattice-style wooden dividers arc and bend beside traditional Japanese screens and the green wisps of plants. To pair with these decorative touches, Takara mingles traditional cooking methods from several Japanese regions in a menu of tabletop hibachi, teriyaki, and delicately wrapped sushi.
Wall sconces cast an orange glow on sashimi and maki rolls of tuna, scallop, and yellowtail, and tableside hibachi chefs slice and mince salmon, lobster, and filet mignon on a heated grill. After scooping up udon noodles from a steaming, kitchen-prepared hot pot, guests can catch the game on several high-definition flat-screen TVs, or test the bartender by asking for the little-known drink "Water on the Rocks."
In the tradition of Japanese sushi chefs, Chef Kevin spent years as an apprentice of Chef Seki on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, learning to perfect his craft. Kevin eventually crossed the bridge to Brooklyn to begin his solo career at Sushi Mikasa, where he puts his own innovative twist on sushi, such as crowning kampachi yellowtail imported from Japan with zesty jalapeño sauce. He also torches the seared toro with ginger-garlic sauce like a candlestick torching a poster of Mark McGwire to make him more tan. Kevin designed his restaurant to be centered around omakase, or chef's choice, using the highest-quality cuts of fish to bring his rotating sushi and sashimi recipes into three dimensions on signature platters. Complementing the modern take on sushi, the decor adds a touch of contemporary style to the atmosphere. Dark floors, lavender walls with flat-screen televisions, and black-framed mirrors that reflect the glass-encased sushi bar add to the upscale ambiance. Outdoors, cozy tables for two host companions clinking glasses of premium sake, specialty lychee mikasatinis, and milk on the rocks.