Most of the time, culinary veteran Michelle Carpenter works as a sushi chef, injecting Southwestern spice into her signature rolls at Zen Sushi. On the last Wednesday of every month, however, she's the leader of a secret society. She gathers her acolytes for a meal built from exotic ingredients not usually found at a standard sushi bar, such as fresh lotus root, live abalone, and uni mousse, a dish previously known only as a mermaid hair product. The meeting lasts for up to 10 courses—then, the society disperses, feeling both enlightened and full. The Secret Sushi Society is the most freeform display of Michelle's knack for delicious experimentation. Still, the menu at Zen Sushi showcases several of her original works. Her popular xalapa roll contains cilantro, avocado, jalapeno, tuna, and thin slices of lime, whereas the sakura roll cocoons clam, shrimp, and crab in wraps of pink soy paper, clustered to resemble its namesake flower petals. These creations have won Zen Sushi multiple awards for their surprising fusions of flavor. Never a one-trick pony, Michelle also cooks modern Japanese entrees, from Tokyo ramen with pork and vegetables to a brandy- and soy-glazed duck breast.
Cast your pole a little further and reel in a fresh catch at Blue Fish. If you're avoiding fat or gluten, you can still eat well at Blue Fish, which offers a number of low-fat and gluten-free choices. Pair your entree with a glass of wine or draft beer — Blue Fish has a fully-stocked bar to complement your meal. Load up the mini-van and bring the kids to Blue Fish — they'll love the menu and scene here as much as mom and dad. Sit outside when the weather is fine — Blue Fish has a lovely patio to enjoy a warm day. There's no need to winnow the guest list for a night out at Blue Fish — the restaurant has tons of space for big parties. Stay in the loop (and online!) by tapping into Blue Fish's free wifi hotspot.
Throwing a big party? Count on Blue Fish to provide top-notch catering with the same great dishes you love. For those in a hurry, the restaurant lets you take your grub to go.
Don't forget to tip the valet — Blue Fish's Greenville Ave location provides a parking service.
A mid-priced establishment, Blue Fish offers meals that typically cost about $30 or less. Blue Fish accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Many would associate live sea urchins with a trip to the aquarium, not dinner at an upscale eatery. Welcome to Shinsei. When Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing created Shinsei, which translates to “rebirth” or “new beginning,” it was with the understanding that the restaurant would resemble nothing else in Dallas. Their chic Pan-Asian eatery certainly breaks the mold with “off-the-menu” sushi made up of regulars' favorites, including the live sea urchin. But there’s also a classic sushi menu—which, beyond not containing living animals, even features some fully cooked seafood—and creative kitchen entrées, such as jalapeno poppers stuffed with coconut chicken. Tracy and Lynae’s creativity also shines through in Shinsei’s interior, thanks to the help of a professional designer. With green carpets masquerading as grass and brown wicker chairs; bamboo-inspired paneling, and tables reminiscent of severed tree stumps standing in for the forest, its design brings the outdoors in without having to ask woodland creatures to remove their shoes. Out on the patio, though, plants and blue sky promise authentic encounters with Mother Nature.
For a tasty mix of Asian flavors and a laid-back vibe, Dallas' Nandina Asian Tapas is the place to go. For those avoiding fat and gluten, there's still plenty of tasty items on Nandina Asian Tapas' menu that can cater to your needs. Drinks here are readily available, so you can enjoy a glass of red or try something new. Take the kids along too — Nandina Asian Tapas is a great spot for families with food that even little ones will love. The private room at Nandina Asian Tapas is an excellent option when you're heading out with a big group for a night of celebration. Dine out in the open during Nandina Asian Tapas' summer season when patio tables are available for use.
Call ahead for reservations to ensure your table is waiting for you when you arrive. A catering menu is also available if you're looking to dazzle the guests at your next shindig.
For those driving to the restaurant, a lot is located around the corner with optional valet. Drivers can also find street parking when the lot gets cramped.
Prices are reasonable, with a typical meal running under $30. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all available at Nandina Asian Tapas.
At Sushi Robata, owner Hiroyoshi Mori and several other native Japanese chefs present a menu that balances a diverse selection of dishes. Diners can start with robata—Japanese-style grilled appetizers such as sea scallops, beef tongue, and sake-infused cod—before moving to entrees of teriyaki chicken and shrimp tempura. A separate menu governs the sushi bar, where patrons sitting at the counter can look on as the chefs plate nearly 90 types of sashimi or build a New Zealand roll with green mussels, smelt roe, and onion. Sushi Robata practices izakaya-style dining, a casual approach in which groups are encouraged to share dishes and chairs. Despite the low-key vibe, the restaurant is rather elegant: pot lights glow off the open, stainless-steel kitchen, and in the dining room, a checkerboard installation and a tree mural line spaces furnished with wooden tables and backless banquettes.