Lee House executive chefs Michael Lee and Thanh Uong inter-weave Chinese and Vietnamese cooking techniques, decades-old family recipes, and years of restaurant experience to craft a menu of dim sum and authentic Chinese fare. A team of culinary air-traffic controllers guides the peking duck’s half-bird in for a landing on plate runways next to a stack of steaming pancakes ($16.00). Savory spare ribs simmer in a clay pot alongside a tart tuft of bitter melon ($8.50), and the specialty beef-chow-fun coils house-made wide rice noodles alongside seasonal vegetables ($8.95). A separate dim-sum menu stocks bellies with classics such as pork dumplings, spring rolls, and black-tie spring rolls in noodle cummerbunds, as well as introducing appetites to exotic meats such as steamed chicken feet ($2.95–$10.95/dim-sum dish).
While it takes prodigious skill to man the 600-degree, 7-foot grill that is the center of bd’s Mongolian Grill’s dining room, the chefs running it don’t have any secret recipes. Instead, customers fashion their own customizable bowls of stir-fry according to their taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired portion size. Guests wander, nearly overwhelmed as they choose from an array of meats and veggies and ladle sweet, spicy, and herb-filled sauces into a cup. Chefs sauté the meal in front of their eyes, swords flicking skillfully across the grill to entertain and build anticipation like a mime about to jump buses on an invisible motorcycle. The resulting stir-fry dishes are accompanied by brown rice, white rice, tortillas or lettuce wraps.
The fusion of robust Malaysian spices and smooth coconut milk erupts with each bite of beef rendang. Sweet and spicy notes infuse the syrupy glaze coating each morsel of general tso’s chicken. A conical seaweed wrap imbues its saltiness in slices of spicy conch. Within the red and yellow walls of Hin Lee Malaysian Chinese Restaurant, the talented chef forges a synthesis of flavors from Malaysian and Chinese traditions. On the weekends, a rice artisan rolls cuts of fresh grouper, salmon, and spicy scallop into seaweed-encased slices at a small sushi bar, where diners can sidle up to watch the master work and shout names of current events to inspire the wasabi's improve-comedy routines.
At China 3, chefs use Zabiha hand-cut meats to build a menu of halal Chinese and Indo-Pak dishes. Szechuan style shrimp, broccoli simmered in garlic sauce, and sweet and sour chicken showcase the culinary flavors of the far east. Meanwhile, South Asian classics include goat biryani and kabobs galore, all served with naan cooked in a traditional clay oven.
Twenty miles. That's the longest distance any cut of fish, chicken, or beef travels before it arrives in front of Chef Rafy Rosario at The Shrimp Warehouse. With an emphasis on local ingredients, he crafts a surf 'n' turf menu that fuses Creole, Cajun, Southern, and Caribbean flavors. He fills baskets with pink shrimp straight from Tampa's docks and loads plates high with fried shrimp, fish, and scallops served with fries, hushpuppies, and shrimp coleslaw. His 36-inch shrimp po' boy challenges the hungriest of diners and is free to those who can finish it in one sitting. Unlike professors at the University of Atlantis, his expertise extends beyond the ocean; he also hand-trims chicken and grills slabs of sirloin steak.
The restaurant's decor echoes the menu's ocean flavors. Outside the restaurant's entrance, two giant shrimp welcome guests into a space marked by exposed-brick walls and rich wood furniture. Life vests line the walls, and tables sit beneath the actual shrimp boat used by our tiny ancestors.
Sakura Asian Cuisine seamlessly blends the diverse culinary traditions of China, Thailand, and Japan with an extensive menu of hand-rolled maki, sashimi, hibachi steaks, sizzling chicken, and seafood sautéed in a wok. The elegant, yet casual restaurant treats visitors to sumptuous meals of grilled sea bass, lobster tempura, and soba noodles. Like a finely shredded Impressionist painting, each maki roll is a kaleidoscopic of tiny slivers of color, with deep reds of tuna, pink salmon, green avocado, and orange tobiko.