Indecision is a virtue at Tanpopo Japanese Restaurant. Instead of picking one entree or a handful of sushi rolls from the menu, diners are invited to order the all-you-can-eat specials for lunch or dinner and then sample a little bit of everything. This allows them to build their own meals from scratch, starting with a refreshing cucumber roll and tuna sashimi before moving on to pork gyoza, barbecued chicken yakitori skewers, and pan-fried yakisoba noodles. These expansive all-you-can-eat menus show the depth of the chefs' dedication to Japan's vast and varied culinary offerings.
The award-winning all-you-can-eat dining spot, open since 1992, greets visitors with leafy green plants and walls of Japanese shoji screens as soon as they ascend the stairs to the restaurant's second-level location. Although there is plenty of indoor seating at the blond wooden tables and sectioned booths, the expansive deck area opens to the public during the warmer seasons. Diners can enjoy their meals in the shade of the tables' black sun umbrellas or beneath lamps that are refilled with imported Japanese sunshine every morning.
Ki-isu chef Sung Kwon Keith Hong has been honing his craft since he was 19. Over the years he’s worked in kitchens throughout Japan, and he brings all of that experience, along with his innovative style, to Ki-isu. His elaborate maki rolls dance on patrons' palates, and they include the philly-cheesesteak roll and the vegetarian buddha roll that were spotlighted by the North Shore News. He also experiments with seasonal specials, creating harmonious dishes such as toro stacked with quail eggs and a brown-rice cake topped with jalapeno salmon and avocado salad.