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 5 p.m.
At Min Ghung Asian Bistro, bartenders shuffle back and forth in front of the sake wall, a towering display of premium sakes illumed by neon-lit shelves. The impressive selection of spirits accompanies a menu populated by Japanese and Korean entrees with meats or tofu drizzled in a variety of marinades. A separate sushi menu boasts hand-rolled creations that encase everything from apple and mango to egg custard and sea urchin.
Inside the dining room, a rotating selection of art hangs upon crimson walls. Each piece purchased sponsors Min Ghung's Art in Red Room program, which aims to increase awareness of work by local artists. Outside, strings of colorful paper lanterns decorate a patio freckled with sun sifting through nearby tree branches or flocks of cheesecloth flying overhead.
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).
Natural wood crowns the entrance to Ichiban Japanese & Korean Restaurant, and inside the eatery’s spacious dining room, soft lights and white tablecloths set an inviting scene. In the kitchen, cooks draw on years of experience to prepare Japanese and Korean specialties. They roll fresh sushi, grill short ribs and beef bulgogi, and simmer seafood tableside in hot pots. Patrons can wash back each bite with wine, sake, and imported Asian beers.
Izumi Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar's cast of sushi and hibachi chefs infuse their culinary influences into a distinctly Japanese menu. They craft more than 30 different maki and hand rolls and deftly slice more than 20 types of à la carte sushi and sashimi. Teriyaki sauce slathers high-end meats and seafood, such as Chilean sea bass and tuna steak, and top-notch proteins also don crispy coatings of tempura or sizzle on hibachi grills. From behind a full bar accented with LCD televisions and high-def umlauts, bartenders pour a wide selection of sakes and craft exotic cocktails.
At Ichiro Hibachi & Sushi Bar, presentation is nearly as important as flavor. Sushi rolls leave the sushi bar tightly wrapped and garnished with colorful sauces, fresh flowers, and crunchy masago. Chefs manning the hibachi grill sear and flip meats, seafood, and veggies in an almost choreographed style, all amid a pyrotechnics display of bright orange flames.