A bandana-clad chef draws his gleaming cleavers with practiced speed and agility, spinning them through the flames at his hibachi station as he prepares filet mignon and swordfish. Between jokes, tricks, and attempts to lasso stray vegetables, the cowboy chefs at Sakura Garden Japanese Steak House prepare savory meals right before the eyes of patrons sipping specialty cocktails from a full bar. Away from the heat, chefs fill a glass-cased sushi bar with sashimi and specialty fusion rolls packed with both traditional and inventive ingredients, such as coconut flakes, lightly fried lobster, and crumpled patents. Sleek stone walls, white tablecloths, and red pendant lamps create a modern backdrop, and an indoor rock fountain guarded by a cherry-blossom tree adds a touch of the traditional.:m]]
The New York Times praised Tengda's Milford location—one of eight in a small regional chain—as "perfect for young-at-heart couples and groups," with a high-energy atmosphere bubbling around cuisine it called "very good." The chefs draw gustatory inspiration from China, Japan, and Thailand as they create their expansive menus of Pan-Asian fare, which include fiery stir-fries, grilled meats, and sushi and provide reading material for shy diners throughout a full meal. Moody red and yellow lights dapple sleek black tables and booths, and might occasionally catch knife-flipping and drink-slinging theatrics behind the sushi and cocktail bars.
Fresh slices sashimi-grade fish take center stage on Singapore’s Grill and Sushi Bar’s menu, as traditional dishes from the Malaysian peninsula serenade diners with savory songs of noodles and spare ribs. Like a polar bear's jewelry box, the restaurant’s sushi case shimmers with rows of translucent gems of salmon, tuna, and eel. Sample succulent morsels of crab clasping creamy bites of avocado in the scallion-dappled Osumo maki roll ($11.50), or witness maritime harmony with a fresh vegetable-chaperoned trio of tuna, salmon, and asparagus in the crunchy Dynomite maki roll ($10.50). Singapore rice noodles wrap their slender, glossy tendrils around spicy mango chicken, shrimp, and fresh vegetables ($18.95), and grilled pineapple chicken lounges on a bed of steamed rice and veggies ($17.95). Sambai specialties mix it up with fluffy beds of fragrant curry rice, couching vegetables and shrimp or pork, all doused in homemade seafood sauce ($18.95) like a sea captain preparing for a date with a mermaid.
Patrons shouldn't be fooled by the sleek white and grey exterior of Sakura Garden—there's plenty of color inside. Through the doors, blossoming pink cherry trees mark a path to the dining room, where a sea-blue glass ceiling hints at the variety of oceanic fare served up at the all-you-can eat buffet. Here, wall-mounted fish provide pairing suggestions as diners dish up hot items such as steamed snow crab legs and teriyaki salmon, as well as cold options such as shrimp cocktails. Seafood also reigns supreme at the sushi bar, where chefs slice sashimi and create rolls fresh to order. After guests have filled their plates, they continue on to the softly-lit dining room, where red lights cast a glow on murals depicting misty, pastoral vistas.
A full bar offers Japanese beer and a selection of sake, and a private room is available for events and special occasions. The buffet is closed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and happy hour runs from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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Min Ghung’s sushi chefs—all New York City transplants with 10-plus years of experience—don’t incorporate just any fish into their rolls. Sourced from around the world, each fish is exhaustively evaluated before it’s cleaned and inducted into Min Ghung’s meticulous aging process. Once they’re ready, those maritime fixings become part of the eatery’s signature rolls, such as the Pink Lady, a lobster salad, avocado, and mango medley doused in creamy wasabi sauce.
Sushi aside, the culinary team draws on classic Asian flavors for main courses that include tofu teriyaki and succulent filet mignon stir-fried with onions, peppers, and basil. Diners can nosh while reclining on upholstered seats lined with Chinese silk, which face a neon-lit wall that's home to 52 cold sakes. Those bottles aren’t the only eye-catching décor amid Min Ghung’s red walls; the space doubles as a gallery whose rotating works highlight budding artists.
Ginza's menu fuses classic Japanese dishes with contemporary adaptations, earning its Bloomfield location second place for Best Japanese Restaurant in the 2011 Hartford Advocate Readers' Poll. A sushi dinner arrives tableside with an assortment of nine sushi pieces around either a tuna roll or a california roll ($20), and the french dragon lights up the night with smoked eel and avocado atop nori-wrapped shrimp tempura ($15). At the Ginza's Bloomfield location, chefs man hibachi stations to cook up grilled chicken ($17), steak and scallops ($22), and lobster tail ($29) fresh, and made-to-order. Other fusion-inspired eats include sake-marinated short ribs accompanied by Holland leeks, wild mushrooms, baby carrots, and red-wine demi glaze ($18), and the miso-broiled Atlantic salmon with baby bok choy and Peruvian corn bathing in miso as well as a sweet and spicy yet vulnerable sauce ($20).