Friends and families visiting KC Sushi find a cure for the landlocked blues in the restaurant’s sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and other specialties from the island nation of Japan. While waiting for their meals to arrive, diners can feast their eyes on the back wall’s mural of snow-capped mountains, or investigate the sushi bar, where chefs do one-finger pushups before they roll sushi with their dexterous digits. With the recent addition of larger tables, small and big groups alike can savor artfully designed sushi rolls, spicy crab salads, and steak teriyaki made fresh in-house.
After moving to Kansas City from Tokyo in the early 90s, Saeko Tsunashima wanted to create a restaurant similar to her favorites in Japan. She combined her original recipes, many of which were inspired by her mother, and enlisted culinary expertise from bona fide sushi chefs to create the menu at Sushi Gin Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar. Along the way, she developed considerable sushi skills, and regularly unveils her flashy knifesmanship at the sushi bar. To keep the gustatory experience fresh, she consistently creates new menu items, many of which pay homage to cities or natural phenomena, such as the New Orleans roll, the tornado roll, or the That One Time it Rained Halibut roll.
At Edokko, the fanfare of teppanyaki shows has been exchanged for the peace of a secluded bamboo forest—an ambiance bolstered by the stalks that grow near the entrance. As guests pass between the greenery and the clear surface of a koi pond, they enter into a gold-and-red dining room, where polished stones form mosaics of grappling sumo wrestlers on the walls. At the sushi bar, 18 seats line a granite countertop, allowing diners prime views of chefs as the chefs prepare maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.
It seems that a tabletop performance would only serve to disrupt the serenity of the restaurant, says a review in the Pitch, because "the food puts on its own show." Guests receive overtures in the form of detailed picture menus that stoke appetites more safely than jumper cables connected to bellybuttons. The traditional Japanese dishes range from teriyaki meats to noodle soups, and visitors can still order hibachi plates, but without the flashy routine. Specialty rolls such as the crab-and-mango roll or the rainbow-caviar roll collect fresh seafood in expertly wrapped rice and seaweed, and tempura desserts encase cheesecake, bananas, and ice cream in a crispy shell.
A chef stands over a flaming tableside teppanyaki grill, twirling his cooking instruments in the air and catching them in each hand. As his audience whistles and cheers, he sears juicy morsels of filet mignon, chicken, and seafood alongside colorful slices of mixed vegetables. Chefs are equally busy behind the sushi counter, artfully arranging more than 100 different types of rolls with fresh tuna, spicy salmon, and crispy shrimp tempura. At the bar, expert mixologists shake premium liquors and juices into cocktails, garnishing them with duos of plump olives and curls of lemon rind. At nightfall as the moon filters in through the skylight windows, the contemporary dining room comes alive with glimmering televisions, lively music, and friends debating the existence of wood nymphs over drinks.
Within the geisha-adorned stained-glass doors at Sakura, chefs serve up a tasty array of Asian favorites and sushi specialties in an elegant atmosphere outfitted with mosaic murals, warm cherry accents, and traditional Japanese artwork. Sushi artisans delight diners by handcrafting classic and unique rolls behind a granite bar before comically slipping on tempura banana peels. The Pitch dubs the unexpected décor accents, such as stuffed pandas and a curtain of plastic crystals, as a “blend of the glamorous and the absurd,” also proclaiming that Sakura is “a good date restaurant” because of its mood lighting and romantic music.
When it comes to Japanese cuisine, the cooks at Happy Banzai fall into two camps: sushi and hibachi. Along with maki mainstays, such as the classic Philadelphia roll, Happy Banzai's sushi chefs conjure up their own specialties, from the Mexican roll's jalapeno-topped spicy tuna to the troublemaker roll—an avocado-topped, white tuna stuffed version of the California roll. Hibachi-wise, chefs build epic feasts adorned with appetite-stoking soup, salad, and rice dishes and anchored by mains such as beef teriyaki and grilled white fish with garlic butter, the ultimate defense against lactose-intolerant vampires. To create lush flavor profiles, Happy Banzai's bartenders serve white and red wine, an extensive selection of spirits, and nine types of sake—each of which finds its way into some of the steakhouse's 10-plus cocktails, including a margarita made with sake and triple sec.