Soft, colored light beams out from beneath the elegant sushi bar at Mandarin Moon, where skilled sushi chefs prepare traditional and specialty rolls. Lobster tail, spicy tuna, and salmon inhabit the gleaming glass case alongside more unexpected ingredients, such as duck and grilled steak. Between mouthfuls of sushi and sashimi, diners at the dark-wood tables and chairs can feast on classic Thai dishes, Chinese food favorites, or the envy of guests who didn't order the crab rangoon.
Near the bustling intersection of North Davis Highway and Olive Road lies a tranquil temple. It's not an Egyptian ruin or a place of worship but a shrine to eastern Asian cookery. Inside, brothers Irwan and Christopher Wong whorl squid, smelt roe, and escolar into made-to-order sushi rolls and craft Chinese classics such as orange chicken and kung pao pork without MSG. Diners can gather at tables trimmed with fresh flowers or pull up to a plant-lined sushi bar, which doubles as a stage for sparring samurai and geisha dolls. Here, the Wongs embellish Amazon rolls with fresh avocadoes and dot grilled chicken rolls with eel sauce and sesame seeds. On-the-go diners can retrieve takeout at the handy drive-thru window rather than having servers shot-put it through the front door.
Chefs roll fresh salmon, scallops, and barbecued eel into sushi behind Fuji’s open-air bar and send elegant platters to diners watching every slice or parties gathered in private rooms. Teriyaki-chicken or shrimp-tempura bento boxes arrive filled with neat portions of dumplings and crab rangoons to ensure that meals remain perfectly organized on the trip to the stomach. Pork or chicken cutlets are breaded and fried in the tonkatsu style, and udon or soba noodles tangle with stir-fried vegetables and fish cakes. Hibachi chefs sear filet mignon, chicken, or lobster tails to perfection to complement glasses of Japanese beer, sake, or jasmine tea from the beverage list.
Located in the historic Pensacola Village, Dharma Blue whips up a scrumptious selection of seafood, sushi, and land-plucked fare amid the cozy confines of a restored Victorian home. Patrons bearing bear-sized appetites can peruse the lunch and dinner menus of sumptuous fare and sample items such as seared shrimp in a brandy sauce ($21.99), seared crab cakes ($22.99), or a 12 oz. rib eye steak ($26.99). Diners can feast outdoors while overlooking Seville Square and savoring fried green tomatoes with Creole honey mustard ($3.99) or a herbivore-friendly vegetarian paella ($9.99) with Spanish rice and a heaping of fresh veggies. Sushi lovers and persnickety geometrists obsessed with circular food can enjoy tantalizing rolls such as the spicy tuna ($7.50), or Dharma roll with conch, shrimp, crab stick, smelt roe, and cucumber ($7.50). Sashay into the welcoming seafood abode and enjoy a memorable meal while swapping stories from the high seas about enduring a steady diet of lemons and discovering buried treasure chests brimming with more lemons.
The sushi smiths at Mikato churn out tightly rolled rice-and-fish treats, steaks, and other traditional Japanese fare. In addition to a variety of rolls, Mikato's chefs orchestrate ingredients in the form of entrees such as sukiyaki steak, a thin-sliced sirloin with sukiyaki sauce and vegetables ($16.95), and the Mikato dinner special, a mélange of filet mignon, lobster tail, and shrimp ($28.99). Chow on culinary creations in the comfort of plush chairs and the soft light emitted from multicolored paper lanterns, all while taking in the Japanese woodblock prints adorning the walls and cowering in the glare of samurai masks that all vaguely resemble TV personality Judge Judy.
Daruma attracts hungry humans with authentic food, warm and lively ambience, and regular, live entertainment. Though Daruma's inventive chef waxes and wanes the menu every couple of lunar cycles, current favorites include teriyaki chicken ($11.95), and nabeyaki udon soup, a brothy noodle soup with shrimp and vegetable tempura ($11.95). Hibachi-style entrees (starting at $10.50 for dinner) sizzle into shape before diners' very eyes in an act that smelts culinary art with circus performance and a deep pore-steaming treatment. Chopstick champions can defeat an order of sushi as a starter or a side, such as the daphne roll, stuffed with crab meat, tuna, cream cheese, and tempura, and crowned with eel sauce, spicy mayo, and tempura crunch ($10.95). Call to reserve a table or to inquire about upcoming karaoke nights, scheduled music, or comedy performances.