Upon a marbled wall, a Japanese triptych mural tells the story of a gargantuan fish licked by cerulean waves and a tiny boat tossed about in its wake. Even though this vibrant piece reflects a chaotic scene, the sushi bar where the owner and head chef crafts creative rolls and maki is anything but—he’s a seasoned artist with more than 15 years' experience slicing, dicing, and coiling. He carefully furls Alaskan king crab, shrimp tempura, and sweet chili sauce and creates tantalizing nigiri and sashimi with freshly carved squid and freshwater eel. Bartenders, meanwhile, pour wines and sakes to complement the chef's mouthwatering Japanese cuisine.
Sunlight pours through ground-to-ceiling windows, streaming across hardwood floors and dark wooden tables that friendly servers speckle with dishes of aromatic steak teriyaki and tempura udon soup. Diners can enjoy these exotic feasts amid the contemporary yet casual dining room’s traditional folding screens and bamboo accents or, when the extraterrestrial overlords who control the weather permit it, outside on the patio.
Eight Piece is all about serving up food fresh and fast, yet each of the restaurant’s dishes remain meticulously prepared. As chefs layer fresh fish and vegetables into their signature versions of California and Philadelphia rolls, guests watch on through glass like proud parents and point out the roll they named after a grandparent. In an interactive turn, diners are encouraged to create their own sushi rolls from a menu of base rolls, creative toppings, and sauces. From those choices, chefs can add heat to a vegetarian roll with a chili oil-infused kamikaze mixt topping or cool down a chipotle roll with an individual topping of avocado and a sauce. With sushi plates in hand, diners are invited to nestle into the airy dining room where neon lime chairs and white banquettes invite conversation and leisurely dining.
Skillful displays of hibachi cookery, and tender, juicy steaks of filet mignon and swordfish bring added vibrancy to the bright space at Kegon. Electric blues and purples abound throughout the wide-open dining space, and chefs show off their well-honed skills in knife work, vegetable chopping, and fire safety at the hibachi-grill tables. Sushi chefs expertly roll rice around spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, and crabmeat, and plump potstickers and salty edamame kick off meals with notes of umami flavor.
At Sushiyaki, chefs roll up creative cuts of sushi, glaze meats with teriyaki, and whip up noodle entrees complemented by Japanese beers, wines, and teas. Red walls, eclectic decorations, and tunes from guest DJs fill the traditional dining area, and Japanese-style private rooms feature low tables and floor cushions. Bento boxes and sushi buffets let visitors plan their own taste-bud excursions, during which the smooth, black sushi bar becomes an airport check-in desk inexplicably staffed by fish-slicing chefs.
The flavors of Japan and Thailand merge at Fuji Thai, where chefs create traditional and contemporary takes on both culinary traditions. Thai curry, noodles, and spicy Bangkok chicken share menu space with 40+ signature and sushi maki rolls, such as crunchy spicy tuna and the Chicago Bear—which tops crab meat, wasabi mayo, and cucumber with seared salmon and BBQ eel.
At South Kawa Japanese Restaurant, sushi isn’t just a delight for the mouth; it’s a feast for the eyes. Bold colors and delicate flavors intermingle as chefs spool fresh fish and rice into more than 40 types of maki rolls, including specialties such as the American Eagle, a mélange of king crab, spicy tuna, asparagus, and two types of roe. Plates of sashimi can be made to order from more than 20 varieties of sea fare, such as yellowtail, octopus, and freshwater eel. Hot starters such as steamed seafood shumai and pan-fried chicken gyoza pair nicely with cool beverages, which diners can bring from home or squeeze from low-hanging rain clouds.