With its whistle blowing and its lights blazing, a miniature locomotive rounds the bend at Sushi Train's sushi bar. Instead of boxcars freighted with hobo gold, however, the engine tows dozens of sushi plates, which diners can pick up as the train passes. Sushi Train's creative, playful approach to sushi extends to the recipes themselves: the Bomber, for instance, includes jalapeño, Velveeta cheese, and smoked salmon, and the Bayou roll blends catfish and blackened shrimp with spicy sauce. Chefs also roll out dozens of traditional nigiri and roll recipes, such as california rolls and vegetable fuko maki.
The Sushi Place’s chefs integrate shrimp and scallops with cream cheese and spicy mayo, yielding rolls with complex profiles of texture and flavor. Edamame and seaweed salad segue into thin-sliced salmon, tuna, and yellow-tail sashimi. Tempura batter crackles around veggies and shrimp, punctuated by the sound of whirring chopstick sharpeners, and notes of plum and grass drift from glasses of sake.
The Tokyo Love Boat glides through the air at Tokyo Japanese Restaurant, dropping anchor at one of the tables. Atop its wooden planks, rows of sushi and sashimi are prepared for a culinary expedition. This is one of many creative concoctions on the menu, along with Tokyo specialty rolls fashioned from ingredients such shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avocado, salmon, and lemon slices. Chefs glaze teriyaki sauce on shrimp, steak, or your date’s face, upon request. Other bite-size bits can be hidden in tempura batter or cooked on a hibachi grill.
Long before Keo opened its doors in 2007, owners Bill & Zahidah Hyman recognized a growing trend toward healthy dining. This, combined with America's affinity for Asian flavors, spawned Keo Asian Cuisine. Fusing traditional wok cooking from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia, skilled chefs flame-kiss tuna, yellowfin, and quail for burgers and noodle dishes before adding inventive garnishes of lemongrass and sweet oyster vinegar. Under hanging lights with Saturn-style rings, patrons can toss back a specialty cocktail on the rocks, but for the sake of the floor-to-ceiling windows, are discouraged from tossing actual rocks.
Te Kei’s takes its name from the Chinese words for special guest, reflecting the restaurant’s efforts to make guests feel at home. Inside the dining room, situated in a building marked by an angular stone tower and a vine-draped terrace, guests lounge in red upholstered booths as they tweezer their chopsticks around sushi medleys of yellowfin tuna, tempura shrimp, and eel. Classic Asian dishes such as general tso’s chicken and mongolian beef also grace the menu, along with new menu items, such as a burger perfected in August of 2012 after the chef spent years selflessly taste-testing local varietals.
The restaurant’s lengthy drink list offers more than two dozen red and white wines to pair with entrees, as well as plum wine and Asian beers such as Asahi and Sapporo. A gluten-free menu accommodates dietary restrictions with rice bowls, sushi, and salads. While patrons savor sweet mustard sauces and pan-blackened chilis, they can admire the dining room’s ornately carved wooden paneling or the decorative vases tucked in stone alcoves.