While it takes prodigious skill to man the 600-degree, 7-foot grill that is the center of bd’s Mongolian Grill’s dining room, the chefs running it don’t have any secret recipes. Instead, customers fashion their own customizable bowls of stir-fry according to their taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired portion size. Guests wander, nearly overwhelmed as they choose from an array of meats and veggies and ladle sweet, spicy, and herb-filled sauces into a cup. Chefs sauté the meal in front of their eyes, swords flicking skillfully across the grill to entertain and build anticipation like a mime about to jump buses on an invisible motorcycle. The resulting stir-fry dishes are accompanied by brown rice, white rice, tortillas or lettuce wraps.
The fusion of robust Malaysian spices and smooth coconut milk erupts with each bite of beef rendang. Sweet and spicy notes infuse the syrupy glaze coating each morsel of general tso’s chicken. A conical seaweed wrap imbues its saltiness in slices of spicy conch. Within the red and yellow walls of Hin Lee Malaysian Chinese Restaurant, the talented chef forges a synthesis of flavors from Malaysian and Chinese traditions. On the weekends, a rice artisan rolls cuts of fresh grouper, salmon, and spicy scallop into seaweed-encased slices at a small sushi bar, where diners can sidle up to watch the master work and shout names of current events to inspire the wasabi's improve-comedy routines.
Restaurants are in Chef Victor Wang's blood—he comes from a family with multiple generations in the industry. Rather than rest on that heritage, he toured Asia and the Americas for more than 20 years, seeking recipes and lessons from numerous chefs specializing in a variety of cuisines.
These days, the critically acclaimed chef injects American flavors into classic Asian cuisine from countries such as China, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. His menu may include Prince Edward Island mussels doused with holly, basil, and ginger; lemongrass-infused chicken soaked in a coconut curry cooked for hours; and seared sirloin marinated in sesame, soy, and garlic. Chef Victor can often be found in the dining room, explaining the complexity of his dishes and why it's too hard to teach broccoli to roll over.
The menu at City Fish Seafood Grill & Chophouse reads like an edible atlas. The The chefs here source fresh salmon from the Atlantic, seabass from Chili, and lobsters from Maine. And the preparations are just as global as the proteins: shellfish-laden paella evokes the eateries of Spain, while beer-battered fish 'n' chips pays tribute to England's famous tartar sauce springs. International flavors also accent sushi selections, from classic tuna and California rolls to the cajun-inspired Bubba Gump, loaded with fried Louisiana crawfish, mango, and cream cheese.
Globe-trotting flair can be found behind the bar as well. Bartenders pour sake, and uncork wines from Italy and New Zealand. Imported spirits are shaken, stirred, and siphoned into specialty cocktails such as the Snickers martini, accented with caramel vodka and amaretto. On weekends, bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys accompany hearty brunch spreads of omelets and french toast.
At Splash! An Ocean Grill, sounds of satisfaction emanate from guests nibbling on seared lobster, fish, or steak just like the sounds of the sea lapping the shore. A bar, located in the middle of the dining room, glows blue as soft lights evoke an under-the-waves mood and guests sip on a sweet cocktail or full-bodied wine while checking out the wall-mounted photographs. It's these details that inspired the Tampa Tribune to exclaim, "…Seafood done so well," Tampa Bay Illustrated to say, "Splash! shines like a spinning lure," and a mermaid off the bay to lament, "Why can't I grow legs?"
Chip Roehl and Lenny Terlaje, the former management team of award winning restaurant Splash! An Ocean Grill, don?t believe that there's only one way to prepare seafood. At their award-winning restaurant, this culinary duo draws upon cooking styles from around the world, from saut?ing mussels in scampi sauce to coating sesame-crusted tuna in ponzu. And those are just the appetizers?for entrees, Tom and Lenny crown crab-cake sandwiches with lemon-dill aioli and vampire-proof lobster tails by broiling them in garlic butter.
Alongside these maritime meals, the twosome also showcases ingredients from the land, such as fire-grilled filet mignons and sirloin burgers topped with roasted bacon. Beer, wine, and classic cocktails complement the feasts, which unfold inside a roomy dining room awash in blue lights reminiscent of the sea.