At Hokkaido Sushi Hibachi Steak House and Lounge—named after Japan's second-largest and northernmost main island, Hokkaido—highly trained chefs entertain both family gatherings and intimate dates at the hibachi table and prepare fresh sushi with salmon, tuna, squid, scallop, sea bass, and other cuts of seafood. The in-ground fish tank that circles the entire bar illuminates platefuls of teppanyaki filet mignon and crispy shrimp tempura. Nearby in the LED-laden Vegas-inspired eatery, a team of sushi chefs rolls slices of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and asparagus inside a sheet of seaweed in the signature Crazy maki roll. Additional maki ingredients include unagi, cream cheese, jalapenos, and tempura soft shell crab.
Asian Pearl's chefs practice their craft with multitasking; in order to execute the bistro's extensive menu, they must be familiar with the tenets of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. Rice noodles and fragrant curries occupy the Thai sphere of the kitchen, while woks toss Chinese favorites including sesame chicken and five-spice duck. Japanese influence appears both in tempura plates and in signature maki rolls, such as the Sky roll that tops shrimp tempura with masago, kanikama, and crunch. Asian Pearl also blends flavors in seafood or grill dishes, such as Tiger's Tears—marinated beef draped in a sauce they claim is "spicy enough to make a tiger cry," something that was said of Judy Garland.
A gentle bath of neon blue light descends over diners inside Asian Pearl's modernist dining room, punctuated by white tablecloths and mural silhouettes of golden trees. Neatly folded napkin peaks greet patrons as they sit down at the sushi bar, forming a crimson vanguard between the wood-and-silver chairs and the chefs' busy hands behind the glass. Around the perimeter of the dining room, thin hanging lamps cast a contrasting red and white light from behind scrawls of Chinese characters.
In 1977, Eddy Ho came to America with the dream of opening his own restaurant. In the 35 years since, he has lived that dream three times over, founding a trio of establishments that spotlight the showiest styles of Japanese cooking while commemorating the year of his transpacific crossing. Whether it's filet mignon, chicken, and seafood chopped by a flurry of clicking blades on hibachi grills or a sleek roll of sushi assembled by deft hands, each entrée arrives in a dining room decked with hints of traditional Japanese architecture, including subtle geometric patterns, crimson accents, and painstakingly manicured flora. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake stand ready to accompany each meal, helping diners toast to good fortune or play a glass harp rendition of their college fight song.
The dishes served at Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi are almost too beautiful to eat?although their fresh ingredients will likely persuade diners to dig in anyway. Colorful maki, for instance, arrive filled with seafood such as soft shell crab, scallops, and spicy salmon and sided with swirls of sauce, while slices of sushi and sashimi are arranged to resemble artful, edible gardens. And hibachi entrees of both surf and turf varieties are even cooked with dramatic flair, sizzled on a fire-spitting tabletop grill by a skilled, heat-resistant chef.
If patrons turn their attention away from the fire and flavors emanating off of simmering hibachis, they'll notice a full service bar complete with an extensive Sake menu. Imported Sake, Saketini, and Sake cocktail are served along with Japanese, Imported and Domestic beer. A large flat-screen TV accompanies the bartender who creates daily drink specials from a wide variety of quality beverages. Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi rounds out the dining experience in with an outdoor patio in warmer months for an added element of peace and comfort.
From behind their blonde wood bar, the sushi chefs set solemnly to work. Grasping rice in their well-seasoned hands, they blend the staple with ocean-caught fish, verdant seaweed, and a roster of international ingredients to produce morsels as delicate as a chrysanthemum blossom or as hearty as a stalwart oak. While these chefs embrace Japanese tastes and aesthetics, you don't have to have a passport to meet them; they ply their trade at Kyoto, where Asian flavors intersect with a decidedly American address. Not to be outdone by the bar's signature sushi and sashimi, the chefs of Kyoto's kitchen turn in faithful reproductions of dishes generally associated with Tokyo, Beijing, or Korea's moon base. Shrimp and vegetables don a dusting of tempura flakes before a trip to the flash-fryer leaves them crisp and golden, and tender cuts of beef mingle with green onions amid spicy mongolian sauce. No matter the meal, glasses of sake or Japanese beers from brewers including Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi help wash down bites or power toasts to the chef's good health.
Wok 'n Fire?named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living?tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.