TJ Thai and Japanese Steakhouse?s chefs slice and dice fresh ingredients over hibachi grills in dishes pulled from lunch and dinner menus that include more than 15 traditional sushi rolls. Grill masters craft flame-kissed shrimp, new york strip steak, and mahi-mahi dishes as diners look on, supporting main courses with an entourage of veggies and fried rice. Chefs bundle up compact sushi rolls, including spicy crab jalape?o and vegetable tempura, and pack Japanese lunch with california rolls, fried dumplings, and the ghosts of juice boxes past.
Taste buds stand at attention at Lotus Restaurant, eagerly awaiting zesty Chinese and Thai platters summoned to tables or spicy cuisine snagged from the lunch buffet's daily-rotating trove. Morsels of beef, chicken, or pork bask in hearty ladles of pho noodle soup ($7–$9), laced with crushed garlic and cilantro. For slightly spicier sips, guests can net a medley of shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid, and scantily clad ship figureheads in spoonfuls of the tom yum Talay's hot and sour broth ($15). Golden-fried sweet and sour chicken ($9.50) balances savory flavors against tangy pineapples and assorted veggies, and a roster of curry dishes ranges from peppery green ($11) to sweetened mango ($12).
Noodles & Company's cooks unite a diverse menu of Asian, Mediterranean, and American fare with the common thread of the noble noodle. The friendly cooks speedily serve each order, which deliciously bridges the gap between convenience and fine dining with casual fare and a strictly enforced dress code of flip-flops and tuxedos.
As hungry customers approach the flat-top grill after which the restaurant is named, they'll find it a sizzling island surrounded by a sea of rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, and colorful sauces. Disenfranchised by the undemocratic menus of all other restaurants, Flat Top diners are empowered with the right to vote for the ingredients of their choice. Start the process by choosing rice or noodles. Then fill your bowl with fresh, seasonal vegetables (such as tomatoes, snap peas, and carrots), mix and match three or four ladles of sauces to create a sweet, spicy Asian-inspired flavor or your own personal concoction. Finally, add a hearty protein (including white fish, chicken, beef sirloin, tofu, or a host of vegetarian and vegan options). Add the finishing touches with clever customizations like hot and sour soup, mu shu wraps, skewered shrimp, or roti prata bread. Lunch bowls are $8.99, and dinner bowls are $12.99. Once your dream dish is assembled, let Flat Top's experienced chefs bring it to life on the grill while you treat your taste buds to an appetizer, such as the kung pao prata ($3.99) or a chilled summer shrimp roll ($5.99). Flat Top rookies needn't fear: Knowledgeable staff are happy to offer advice, popular recipes are perched atop tables, and tips are available on oversized chalkboards around the dining room. For an extra $2 (or $1 at lunch), diners can enjoy unlimited trips through the line, allowing them to try a wide variety of stir-fry combinations.
Named for the famous city on the island of Java, Bandung is the only Indonesian restaurant in Madison—and only one of a handful in the Midwest. Specializing in traditional Indonesian recipes as well as fusion dishes, Bandung offers vegetarian- and carnivore-friendly menu items to perk up mouth bungalows with flavorful furnishings. Start off with appetizers such as the krupuk bawang putih (garlic chips made with tapioca flour, $1.25) and pangsit goreng, which combines green onions and water chestnuts in a crispy wonton wrap with your choice of tofu ($4.25) or chicken and shrimp ($5.25). Main dishes include opor ayam, which bathes taste buds in a silky coconut broth containing bamboo shoots, lemon grass, and marinated chicken ($7.95 for lunch, $10.95 for dinner), and nasi goreng super, a super-powered fried rice that mixes garlic, candlenut, and shallots with sambal (a chili-based paste), veggies, and the meat of your choice ($7.95 for lunch, $10.95 for dinner). Nearly all dishes can be changed to accommodate allergy needs or vegan requests. During or after dinner, crack open your miniature party umbrellas to celebrate Bandung's new touch-screen cocktail menu and try the Long Island Thai tea ($6), which packs the same punch as a Long Island but is wrapped in creamy Thai tea for a bruise-free wallop.