Glossy floors and shiny wood walls line the room, setting the stage for UKAI Sushi & Chinese's centerpiece—a burbling fountain, home to a towering plant and cascading waters flowing down a rock formation. Though the scene is captivating, the main attraction is the menu, covering both Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Drawing on Japanese traditions, the chefs craft specialty rolls, some with surprising ingredients. For instance, the Angel roll pairs sliced apples with shrimp and crab meat, and the Snow White roll wraps up coconut sauce and tuna without attracting evil queens. Conversely, they specialize in Chinese-American staples, as well as a lineup of chef's specials, including coconut shrimp drizzled in coconut sauce and honey-walnut shrimp.
In 1977, Eddy Ho came to America with the dream of opening his own restaurant. In the 35 years since, he has lived that dream three times over, founding a trio of establishments that spotlight the showiest styles of Japanese cooking while commemorating the year of his transpacific crossing. Whether it's filet mignon, chicken, and seafood chopped by a flurry of clicking blades on hibachi grills or a sleek roll of sushi assembled by deft hands, each entrée arrives in a dining room decked with hints of traditional Japanese architecture, including subtle geometric patterns, crimson accents, and painstakingly manicured flora. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake stand ready to accompany each meal, helping diners toast to good fortune or play a glass harp rendition of their college fight song.
Sushi City extinguishes appetites with a mighty menu of tightly rolled maki and traditional Japanese dishes. Like a care package from a pirate, sushi rolls bear fresh favorites in their centers, such as two pieces of tuna ($5), sweet shrimp ($6.50), or fresh water eel ($5). The majordomos of the maki menu include specialty rolls such as the torched dragon maki ($15), in which salmon, shrimp, and tuna join forces under a canopy of spicy mayo. Teriyaki ($11.95–$16.95) also vies for the culinary spotlight with traditional tastes and a thrilling stand-up comedy routine featuring chicken, steak, or a selection of fish.
Chefs at Aodake Sushi & Steak House dispatch sushi and hibachi-seared steaks beneath hanging lamps and glowing globes. Meat, vegetables, and seafood make for multicourse meals, and a variety of kitchen entrees bolster the thronged dinner menu. At the bar, more than 20 vodkas alchemize into a variety of martinis or blocks of pure gold.
With 15 years of culinary experience, Sushi Train's chef feels equally comfortable pan-frying traditional Japanese entrees and crafting attractively assembled rolls draped in sauces and decorative toppings. In addition to drawing from a menu that features an extensive selection of familiar maki, the chef also crafts a number of signature sushi creations that incorporate such ingredients as salmon tempura, mango sauce, and Cajun-spiced king crab. Semicircular, high-backed booths line the dining room's gently lit walls, which feature large photographs of sushi entrees. For a distinctly transpacific ambiance, the room also boasts silk screens and bamboo shoots stolen from a panda's pantry.
Eclectic ingredients, including eel and mint leaf, fill more than 30 maki rolls and helped earn Wildfish a spot on Gayot's list of the 10 best Chicago sushi restaurants in 2012. One roll pairs spicy salmon, fried tuna, and pico de gallo, and another mixes spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce with Alaskan king crab and a splash of Bacardi 151. Filet mignon and lobster sizzle in the tropical-hued dining room with walls of red, green, and gold and bamboo that sways against the ceiling. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake clink together in high-backed booths that offer privacy during dates and meals out with a parrot that only knows how to say your medical records.