Outside, flames blaze within a set of stone cauldrons atop towering tripods. The vessels, known as dings, have been symbols of power in China since ancient times, when dynasties ruled the empire—making them a fitting façade for the Emperor’s Palace. Within the restaurant’s high ceilings, a dining room takes inspiration from the Suzhou Botanical Gardens, with tables sitting among waterfalls, ponds connected by bridges, and an open, four-sided Chinese-style pagoda with red and gold accents and pointed eaves.
Amid the traditional Chinese décor, aromas of sizzling meats and piquant sauces waft from an open kitchen, where chefs perform as they sear, broil, and stir-fry more than 200 dishes in full view of patrons. They craft traditional and American-Chinese dishes such as roasted peking duck and walnut shrimp, American-style charbroiled steak, sushi, and Korean-style kimchi. Contributing to the restaurant's international focus, seafood dishes incorporate such ingredients as New Zealand blue mussels and Alaskan crab legs complete with miniature snowshoes.
The chefs at Lucky Sushi House reach beyond the borders of their eatery's name by serving a menu that not only features sushi, but also Japanese teriyaki dishes and Chinese staples such as orange chicken. Behind the sushi bar, chefs stack morsels of eel nigiri and roll combinations of crab, avocado, and tuna into cozy cocoons of rice. While admiring the decorative fans on the walls or peering into the restaurant's aquarium to check for messages in bottles, patrons can also crunch into squid-tempura rolls, split a plate of pot stickers, and swig Harbin Lager imported from China.
Chefs put their sizzling woks to work at New St. Louis Wok, churning out Chinese takeout classics such as general tso’s chicken and beef with broccoli. Since 1996, the small eatery has ensured that the local community has mouthwateringly easy access to noodles, crab rangoon, and combination plates served with fried rice and an appetizer. Customers can choose to dine-in, carryout, or have their meal delivered by a bear trained not to steal chow mein.
Flanked by celery-colored walls and guarded by flourishing green plants, diners move along a granite-style countertop, plucking seasoned chicken and heaps of lo mein from stainless-steel basins. Traditional Chinese dishes, including vegetable delight and sweet-and-sour chicken, can be ordered a la carte from the menu while a chef sears morsels on a nearby hibachi grill.
On weekends between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., a cart laden with plated dim sum rolls through Lu Lu Seafood, delivering handcrafted treats such as pork shu mai or spare ribs in black bean sauce. Patrons can also dine on regional Chinese seafood such as live lobsters with ginger and scallions or hot pots simmering with fresh scallops, washing it all back with cocktails, smoothies, and milk tea laden with pearls of tapioca. The opulent crimson-and-gold eatery also houses private karaoke rooms with bottle service where guests can sing in English, Chinese, or Korean.
Studio Gallo blu is a three-pronged artistic haven, complete with a café, studio, and gallery. The studio inspires guests with Tuscan-style decor, complete with brick and coral walls adorned with lushly rendered paintings of rolling hills and framed landscapes by painter Kate Franklin. Franklin—who also instructs students during Chianti and Canvas classes—isn't the only artist with work hanging in the gallery. The city's cache of talented local-artists' work cycles through the space, showcasing their skills—the artists occasionally even pop by during classes for adults and children. The space is also available for private art lessons as well as a wide variety of events, including children's tea parties, fashion-themed bashes, and BYOB studio time that occasionally results in Pollock-inspired dress-shirt stains.