Presiding over table-side hibachi grills, the chefs at Kobe Japanese Restaurant flip eggs into the air and catch them on the edge of their spatulas. Dramatic culinary displays are performed throughout the restaurant: at the sushi bar, diners watch as cuts of fresh seafood are rolled and arranged into sushi and sashimi. Out of sight, the kitchen staff artistically plates each dish atop bowls and platters nearly as beautiful as the fish and steak they support.
Bartenders shake and stir cocktails that draw their power from fresh juices, or pour Japanese beer, wines, and sake. Even in its quietest moments, Kobe dazzles diners with its booths upholstered with genuine Godzilla leather and whimsical glass lamps, delicate upside-down umbrellas, and giant paper koi that all dangle from the ceiling.
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.
Fresh ingredients from local suppliers abound at Crave, where patrons can create their ideal plates by hand-selecting from an array of all-natural and organic eats. The buffet table sports an elaborate ensemble of tongue tempters, with items such as fresh baked goods, seasonal fruit, applewood-smoked bacon, and egg strata orbiting a chef's selection of fish. Toppings of maple syrup, whipped cream, and berry compote eagerly adorn freshly-toasted checkerboards at the gourmet waffle station, and the chef's carving station showcases a selection of fine meats whittled to look like bars of soap. Champagne, mimosas, and bellinis give brunch a cosmopolitan flair, and Crave's low-lit ambience provides an intimate backdrop for shadow-puppet Civil War reenactments.
For the founders of Sakana Sushi & Hibachi - Plymouth, the road to opening a Minnesota restaurant spanned continents. The group practiced their culinary skills and sharpened their business acumen while living in the Fujain Province in mainland China. After immigrating to America and starting families in New York City, they decided to find a place to raise their children in Minnesota. This led to the collective opening an Asian restaurant in their new home using their combined cooking experience and contacts with fish markets from the East Coast. Their penchant for transforming fresh fish into salmon and spicy tuna rolls and searing savory cuts of steak with szechuan kung pao spices soon birthed two additional restaurants and at least three spin-off sitcoms.
Two beady eyes stare up at you from a cocoa-brown complexion. The same color shades the creature's body, from its horns all the way to its spiked, yellow-tipped tail. With anticipation tingling through your fingertips, you stab it—with a chopstick. The beast is actually Mango Factory's dragon roll, a specialty sushi roll also known as Capricorn Island.
It's just one of many specialty rolls named for and modeled after Zodiac signs, like most driver's licenses. For instance, the signature Taurus Treasure bears the horns of the Taurus around a "head" of yellowtail, tuna, and rice with shrimp tempura. In addition to the whimsical sushi, chefs also create kitchen entrees (think teriyaki and seafood soup) and Asian tea and desserts.
Though seafood is the obvious star at Sushi X, the varied preparations deserve attention as well. Tableside chefs sizzle a choice of entrees for hibachi lunches and dinners, or pair miso soup and salad with sushi, teriyaki, or tempura entrees in lunchtime bento boxes. The main star of the show, however, is the expertly rolled, background-checked, and sliced sushi. Chefs create classics such as spicy tuna and crunchy eel rolls, but also a roster of rolls that are uniquely their own. One such roll is the mango avocado roll, in which chefs roll soybean paper with lobster salad, mango, and avocado, all of which they drizzle in a sweet mango sauce.