The sea is all around at House of Thai. A tapestry of a merman-esque mythological character beams down on one table, a sea dragon slithers down a wooden post behind another, and seascapes float across the walls. Then, of course, is the menu, with its concise selection of maki, ranging from spicy salmon to a classic california roll to a saint louis roll filled with tuna, avocado, cucumber, pickled radish, and masago—all the foods that appear on St. Louis’s municipal flag. They also offer creamy curry, seafood-enriched fried rice, and daring dishes such as garlic and pepper frog legs.
In stark contrast to Yakuza Sushi Bar’s otherwise low-lit dining room, golden lights flood the surface of a full-length bar where chefs busily roll together a menu of sushi and sashimi. Drawing on ocean-fresh ingredients such as scallops, octopus, mackerel, and crab, they craft their own interpretations of Japanese classics; customer favorites include the crab-rangoon roll and the aptly named Fire roll, whose spicy tuna complements a drizzle of volcanic lava. Aside from the restaurant’s flagship variations of fish, tempura vegetables and chicken and beef teriyaki serve as the centerpieces for traditional bento entrees.
The charismatic chefs at Shogun Japanese Steakhouse toss together combinations of filet mignon, lobster, chicken, and scallops on a fiery hibachi tabletop grill, right in front of diners. They’ve performed this style of hibachi grilling for nearly 20 years. In addition to the hibachi cuisine, the menu features traditional entrees such as fried rice and salmon in lemon butter and teriyaki sauce. Enjoy a cup of japanese green tea to complement your meal, or try cocktails such as sake bombs and the Green Dragon, which is served only to patrons who can breathe fire.
Helmed by chef Paul Kulkanjanatorn, who boasts 10 years in the raw fish-fileting industry, Fin Japanese Cuisine serves up a vast menu of authentic Japanese fare in a sophisticated and romantic setting. Gird yourself for a long night of vampire hunting with a hearty dinner bento box such as the Shogun Set, a collection of gindara miso, shrimp tempura, and sashimi ($18.95), or opt for tonkatsu, a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet mingled with katsu sauce ($16.95). Midday munchers can luxuriate in a lunch bento set, served with gyoza, house salad, rice, miso soup, and a helping of chicken, salmon, or steak teriyaki ($9.95).
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 Kampai Sushi draw on recipes from traditional Japanese and Korean cuisine to create classic dishes as well as playfully updated fare. Behind the sushi bar, they roll maki with fresh slices of salmon and decadent chunks of fried lobster tail, adding nontraditional flair with ingredients such as sweet pumpkin, honey-wasabi sauce, or potato chips. For heartier entrees, they can grill marinated korean short ribs or drizzle a deep-fried pork loin in a slightly sugary fruit sauce, the same way attorneys prepare briefs for sweet-toothed Supreme Court justices.