Toshiro Japanese Express concocts affordable, authentic Asian fare prepared in the hibachi cooking tradition. Battered shrimp, served with a homemade tempura sauce ($4.50), is a crispy preamble to main-amble noodle dishes, which combine soba (thin noodles) or udon (thick) with an ample ecosystem of broccoli, cabbage, onions, carrots, and mushrooms ($5.95). Diners can feast their eyeteeth on meaty hibachi entrees, including tender teriyaki-chicken morsels ($5.50), served with vegetables, fried or steamed rice, and the house soup, while dividing their other 10 senses among the sleek, honey-glazed paneling of the casual eatery. An array of scrumptious sauces ($.25) stands ready to complement grill fare with zesty tastes of ginger, teriyaki, or asian sesame, while tots can munch kid-friendly fare like chicken fingers and appendage-less hibachi steak.
The culinary authors at Utage Athens Sushi Bar compose compelling nonfiction masterpieces about tasty Japanese cuisine. The 10-piece lobster-roll dish, a maki plate, weaves avocado, cucumber, lettuce, and masago into a flavorful fabric of deep-fried lobster ($12.50). Utage stultifies hunger with 26 varieties of authentic raw nigiri, one for each human sense.
Chin Chin-Mu Lan tempers the raw rage of growling stomachs with a menu of specialty sushi rolls and saucy Chinese plates. Traditional dishes such as general tso's chicken provide the comforting familiarity of a heated blanket embroidered with your family portrait ($6.75 lunch, $11.00 dinner). Mu Lan specialties include the Happy Family—a crowd-pleasing compilation of meat and seafood sautéed with mixed vegetables ($6.75 lunch, $14.45 dinner). Sushi rolls such as the Chin Chin crunch roll wrap up an assortment of seafood with land-based treats including asparagus and chili mayonnaise ($10). Chefs happily customize the hotness level of any spicy dish to each customer's unique tongue print.
The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
Flashing knives and spurting flames dazzle diners as the chefs at Kuma Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar theatrically sear entrees on the tabletop hibachi grills. Equally comfortable with cooking vegetables and meats, the chefs can shuffle a number of them across the grill's iron surface, including scallops, chicken, or filet mignon. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs gingerly slice pieces of fresh salmon and tuna behind their bar—unlike traditional bartenders, who rarely slice bottles into neat sections. Their work does not stop there, however, because they also carefully layer orders of salmon nigiri that can emerge alongside a familiar or inventive sushi roll, which arrives in either six or eight bite-sized pieces.
Named after the Japanese word for happy, Genki Noodles & Sushi captures the feel-good delicacies enjoyed by owner Reid Zeising during his childhood in Tokyo. Reid now oversees three locations that dish out a signature menu of traditional and experimental sushi rolls, tuna specialties, and Japanese barbecue bowls packed with grilled meats or tofu mixed with noodles or rice. In many dishes, classic flavors of spicy tuna and fresh water eel mingle with unusual additions such as parmesan cheese or mango.
Though each location sports its own distinct décor, all three locations glow under flat screen TVs and the blue light of fish tanks populated by ocean critters and a merman trapped in the body of a hermit crab. The Virginia Highlands location mingles exposed brick with a covered outdoor patio replete with breezy fans.