Chiyo Sushi's talented chefs prepare more than 100 familiar Japanese eats such as teriyaki and salmon nigiri as well as dishes that make use of more inventive ingredients such as monkfish liver, sea urchin, and live scallops. The bill of fare contains multitudes, from delicate sashimi to crispy tempura to savory udon soup. Diners populate tables at lunch and dinner, sandwiched between prints of kimono-clad nobles that adorn the walls and broad, tree-framed windows that allow fresh air in and soy sauce-dwelling demons out.
Shiso Tavern takes the concept of Asian fusion beyond the table to behind the bar. There, signature cocktails have half-familiar names: the green tea palmer, for example, which mixes green tea-infused vodka with lemonade and honey. There are lychee martinis, bottled beers, and sake samplers, all influenced by, if not imported from the east.
These libations pair well with a menu of sushi and wok-fired dishes. There are enough staples here to delight fans of classic Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine, but the chefs shine when permitted to invent. The Baltimore Sun praises their soft-shell crab roll, calling it a visual "stunner" with an "exciting" medley of textures, from the tender crab to the crisp veggies and tempura. Specialty entrees range from grilled octopus salad to the sushi nacho, a wonton wrapper layered with sliced tuna tataki, spicy salmon, and avocado. You can also trust the chef's judgment by ordering a plate of sashimi or nigiri, cuts of fish picked based on their freshness and the likelihood that they'll match your dinner jacket.
At Tatu Restaurant--voted “Best New Restaurant” in 2011 by the readers of Baltimore Magazine--the culinary team unites Chinese and Japanese cuisines into a single smorgasbord. Diners can feast on traditional Chinese dishes, such as sesame chicken, short ribs braised in five spices, or Shanghai beef, a New York strip steak grilled in hot oil, cilantro and soy-mirin sauce. Fresh sushi interpretations include the salmon tartar roll with Chinese mustard and wonton chips, or a chilled shrimp roll with wasabi cocktail sauce. Diners are encouraged to share their plates, and complement their meals with house cocktails such as sake sangria, a mix of sake and plum wine muddled with lychee fruit and tangerines.
Before diners can even begin to rifle through East Moon Asian Bistro’s vast menu of inventive sushi rolls, fiery curries, and exotic noodle dishes, they must first tackle the question of where to sit. There’s the sleek dining room, with its black Silestone tabletops, cushy booths, and artwork lining the walls. But there’s also the sushi bar, where flat-screen televisions beam down on sushi chefs as they slice up fresh fish before diners’ eyes. Glimmering lanterns festooned with zigzags and stripes create a funky counterpoint to the color schemes of both areas.
But once seating arrangements have been decided and orders have been placed, the real fun begins—diners can sit back with a cocktail and watch as servers bring forth a parade of pan-Asian dishes from the kitchen. Plates of crispy spring rolls are soon followed by chicken coconut soup, shrimp teriyaki, and the tofu-vegetable specialty lauded by reporters from Ellicott City Patch as “crispy and fresh.” Platters of sushi burst with salmon, lobster, and crabmeat and arrive decorated with elaborate flourishes—such as fresh caviar and bright flowers that can accurately predict who loves you and who loves you not.
With a diverse mix of events, a roster of live music, a pool league, and a full kitchen—plus a new sushi bar—it's hard not to find something to like about Fish Head Cantina. The back patio houses a two-stage venue accommodates up to 1,000 music lovers, as well as a full tiki bar and koi pond. Inside, patrons can sidle up to a table to peruse the enormous menu, which ranges from wings to tacos to more than 20 maki rolls on a sushi menu.
The chefs at Koto Sake Japanese Steak House dazzle diners with their fast chopping and knife-wielding skills as they prepare Japanese seafood and steak meals directly at the table. “For those who are not familiar with the experience,” a reporter for The Baltimore Times wrote after a visit, “hibachi is a style of Japanese cooking in which the food is prepared in front of the patrons on a large iron stove. In addition to seeing your food cooked before your eyes, restaurant-goers are treated to a theatrical show that blends impressive utensil juggling, culinary acrobatics, and sarcastic comedy.”
Along with hibachi dinners, the cooks also fry rice and cook large pots of noodles. Like a spy movie set in a hotel for twins, the deep-fried and traditional maki rolls are full of surprises, from shrimp tempura to asparagus.