When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and boasts more than 38,000 locations around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Subway’s website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutritional information online.
The heart of the Kinara Lounge kitchen is its fiery clay tandoori oven, which crackles with baking naan breads and sizzling tandoori meats from noontime until dusk. Chefs bustle about the oven, seasoning pans of chicken, lamb, and seafood specialties with flavorful spices while peeking into pots filled with bubbling biryani rice. Servers transport plates to the dining room, where hanging red lights casts a glimmer on bottles of premium liquors and a flat-screen television. Come lunch time, the servers stack a sweeping buffet with simmering platters of fresh Indian specialties, enabling diners to sample a diverse selection of curries, tandoori dishes, and sauces.
Beef, fish, chicken bones, and more than 30 Chinese herbs collectively flavor the numerous variations of Xinjiang Mala spicy broth at Dragon Gate BBQ. These slow-cooked broths coat spicy shabu skewers, on which chefs layer kelp, tofu curd, and beef meatballs. Simmering meats also cling to the kitchen staff’s barbecue skewers, which include traditional ingredients such as green beans, chicken gizzard, and pig skin. Batches of fried rice or noodles tossed with veggies round out the menu along with freshly squeezed juices or imported beer.
At Sushi Factory, chefs slice and dice fish, meat, and veggies for a total of nearly 100 different menu items, crafting each visually enticing dish on a made-to-order basis. Sashimi, maki, and nigiri creations claim a large part of the menu’s real estate, and many of the restaurant’s rolls take on a certain identity. The Dragon roll, for instance, manifests its mythical epithet with a fusion of tempura shrimp, eel, and crab, and is best enjoyed just after flaming a castle wall. Meanwhile, the Godzilla roll stomps taste buds with yellow-tailed maki deep-fried in spicy sauce—a fusion that has made it one of Sushi Factory’s most popular dishes. Other Japanese specialties, such as chicken teriyaki and beef short ribs, round out the menu, and daily specials at both Sushi Factory locations keep bellies and pockets equally full.
Lotus Indian Express, which recently celebrated its grand opening, transports the ancient cuisine of India to the 21st century. Inside the chartreuse dining room, sleek, minimal barstools and chairs gather around tables where visitors chow on swiftly prepared, healthy meals. Diners customize these meals, choosing one side and one, two, or three entrees, such as tender goat curry with rice, palak paneer with biryani, or chicken tikka masala and shrimp curry with salad.