From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Bacon-wrapped Asparagus - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Wasabi Crunchy Shrimp, and Ahi Tuna Poke. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, ahi tuna, or chicken with chili mayo until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
Culture 22 stocks its carnivore-pleasing menu with porterhouses, bacon-topped burgers, and seafood. Peppercorn-crusted 12-ounce new york steak au poivre bathes in a cognac sauce, and a dozen oysters paired with inventive dipping sauces from the raw bar set taste buds out to sea. The signature New Mexican–style green-chile burger imbues a half-pound of beef with piquant Southwestern flavors, accompanied by french fries that, like wooden boards in a martial-arts studio, are hand-cut. As diners divvy up jumbo cocktail shrimp, servers ferry cocktails and beer to ebony four-top tables set aglow by chandelier and candle lighting.
White is the traditional color of an artist's canvas. At Zushi Restaurant, however, the canvases come in shades of aquamarine, cobalt, watermelon, and lemon yellow. It's onto this colorful collection of dinnerware that chefs plate sushi in startling shades and variations, with garnishes such as orchids, orange slices, and wasabi "leaves" completing each still life. The rolls themselves range from simple to elaborate. The standard list includes sushi with a single element, such as quail egg, scallops, or sweet shrimp. By nature a minimalist art form, Zushi's sashimi nevertheless demonstrates inventiveness with the lemon tako—alternating layers of octopus and lemon, accompanied by a blossom-shaped dish of sesame oil for dipping.
It's with the more complex rolls that Zushi's chefs really flex their creative muscles. The addition of heat to the preparation of baked and tempura maki adds contrasting textures and temperatures to the table. The deep-fried california roll sports a cloak of crispy batter. The warm outer layers of the baked barbecue beef roll mask the cool fresh tuna at its core. Heat is also prominent, twice, in the spicy barbecue pork, or once in the shrimp teppan yaki. House saki—served hot or cold—can extinguish or augment the fire in one's mouth, accordingly.
From the deep-fried popcorn lobster to the banana tempura dessert, A'Float Sushi's menu is a ripe with Japanese dishes prepared with creative flair. But sushi rolls are where the chefs really excel, from classic California or spicy tuna rolls, to green mussel rolls and rolls made with honey walnut shrimp tempura. Entrees, meanwhile, are a bit more traditional, featuring choices such as deep-fried pork tonkatsu served with salad, rice, and soup.
Since 1979, Teru Sushi has treated diners to a menu of fresh seafood prepared with traditional Japanese recipes and served amid elegant zen-like décor. Prep palates with a dish of steamy edamame before helping chopsticks to specialty rolls such as the Dragon Ball, which disguises a classic california roll in a costume of freshwater eel and avocado. The 911 sets taste buds ablaze by bundling shrimp tempura and avocado with spicy tuna, fanning the flames with even more spicy sauce that yields only to the placating coos of crispy flakes and sweet eel sauce. Rice-free morsels such as the albacore-wrapped Geisha Lips and the cucumber-bundled Twilight roll cater to special diets, while piping hot carafes of sake or a dessert of tempura-fried ice cream balance palates better than a perfectly seasoned triple beam.
Itacho Restaurant has it all: delicious, incredibly authentic Japanese cuisine; friendly and fast service from the owners to the waiters to the native Japanese chef; and a cozy ambience with traditional Japanese tie-dye tapestries lining the colorful walls. For just $15, today's Groupon gets you $35 at the Zagat- and Michelin-rated Japanese hot spot. The place—a favorite among hipsters and Hollywood elite—has also been featured in LA Weekly, Gayot, and Los Angeles Magazine.