Described by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's editors as "as close to an authentic Japanese sushi bar as we come in the Twin Cities," Fuji Ya is a destination for sushi and sake served in a "hypnotic atmosphere." At each of its two locations, chefs diligently slice freshly flown-in yellowtail and surf clam, all of which populate the extensive menu. Sidle up to the sushi bar to watch the assemblage of maki rolls and sushi platters, or gather in private zashiki rooms to dine on hot entrees of sesame-crusted tuna and roasted duck with citrus soy glaze.
moto-i gives diners an authentic Japanese culinary experience without requiring that they leave uptown Minneapolis. Unpasteurized draft sake is brewed inside the izakaya-influenced bar and restaurant; onsite production keeps this staple libation fresh and free of jet lag. Executive chef Omar forges Asian-fusion dishes that meld flavors such as whole fish served with handmade pickles and abura ramen peppered with smoked pork shoulder. Instead of airing football games and soccer matches, the restaurant’s TVs run live and pre-recorded sumo wrestling bouts simulcast from Japan, proving to diners that sports aren’t required by international law to include a ball.
Head chef Yukio Kamada had a multicultural culinary upbringing. He attended culinary school in his native Japan, but studied French and Italian cooking techniques. He uses these techniques to bring a touch of the unexpected to Wasabi Fusion Restaurant's Asian fusion cuisine.
For example, as chef Kamada explained to the Asian American Press, he might braise Japanese tuna in a French red wine or sing "Mambo Italiano" while folding fresh fish into sushi rolls. One of his specialties is hibachi-style cooking—searing meats, vegetables, and seafood on a central grill.
Tiger Sushi patrons can watch chefs slice and chop an extensive menu of fresh rolls behind a polished-wood sushi bar. The specialty spice girl roll dresses snow crab and crunchy salmon tempura in slimming avocado mini-dresses before they step onto the culinary stage to harmonize with spicy mayo and eel-sauce backup singers ($10). Alternately, the rising sun roll disguises a California roll in a mask of salmon, a cape of baked spicy mayo, and wig of crispy noodles for a crunchy culinary masquerade ($11). Tiger Sushi chefs can also cook up a plate of piping hot shrimp tempura ($15) or juicy, teriyaki-slathered rib-eye steak ($15).
Japanese hibachi-style cooking, or teppanyaki, is a culinary experience wherein chefs cook on gas-heated hotplates in front of diners. After it migrated to a bigger spot in Calhoun Square, Sushi Tango added a set of specialty hibachi tables for close-up savory showmanship. Prep your palate with edamame ($4.95) or pork gyoza (dumplings, $5) before diving into the briny depths of seafood hibachi dinners such as shrimp ($22), calamari ($18), or salmon steak teriyaki ($22). As Sushi Tango's friendly chefs chop and stir together a hibachi full of meat such as your choice of white or dark chicken ($17) or filet mignon ($24), they'll keep things interesting with jokes, culinary sleight of hand, and lightning-quick knife-fu. All Sushi Tango's hibachi dinners are served with green tea, soup, salad, shrimp appetizers, vegetables, and fried or steamed rice. Special combinations such as musta sefu (steak and shrimp, $28) and surf and turf (filet mignon and lobster tail, $36) are also available on the hibachi menu.
Hotel restaurants can sometimes blend together in a generic parade of pork chops and mashed potatoes. Rare Steak & Sushi, however, bursts out of the mold with its selection of grass-fed steaks and innovative sushi. Located on the second floor of the Grand Hotel, the eatery charmed Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly, who raved about its grass-fed steaks. To complement cuts of filet mignon and New York strip steaks, Chef Chano also rolls up 30 varieties of sushi. The creations range from the simple—such as freshwater-eel sashimi—to the complex, including a hawaiian roll packed with tuna, pineapple, and fried almonds or the vegetarian salad roll, which Grumdahl was “especially wild about.” A quick scan of the dining room reveals a diverse collection of clientele, as the eatery—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—appeals to locals, businesspeople, and hotel guests alike.
Passing through the stone-lined threshold of Ichiban Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar's pagoda-style building, visitors enter an indoor garden where plants burst from beds around a waterfall and bubbling stream. The decor draws from Japanese tradition and culture—on which both Ichiban locations base their aesthetic variations—in much the same way as the chefs’ cuisine. Since 1979, these culinary greats have introduced diners to the teppanyaki style of grilling as well as classic Japanese dishes such as tempura, udon, and gyoza.
At tableside grills, knives flash as chefs sizzle, flip, and set ablaze morsels of scallops, filet mignon, salmon, and chicken. While cooking, each chef displays an individualized sense of showmanship and culinary style by spotlighting a range of spatula moves and carving meats into the profiles of their favorite celebrities. Sushi chefs fill boat-shaped platters with more than 40 varieties of sushi, rolling seaweed around roe, eel, squid, cucumber, and fried tofu before placing each on a canapé of seasoned rice. All these dishes flit across tongues with complementary sips of sake, wine, beer, or mixed drinks with names such as Panda and Kabuki.