A third-generation Chinese restaurateur, Dragon Star owner Francisco Cho takes taste buds on a journey through Cantonese- and Szechuan-style cuisine, which his chefs make entirely from scratch and to order. Under the soft flicker of paper lanterns, amid four flat-screen TVs, guests lounge atop plush seats and nibble favorites such as kung pao chicken, sweet 'n' sour tofu, sesame beef, and barbecue spare ribs while imbibing BYOB drinks. Most of Dragon Star's cuisine is also available for takeout, provided customers have secured reservations at their dining room table.
With locations in six states, 16 Handles is carving out a delicious space for itself in the self-serve frozen-yogurt world. In addition to rewarding customers’ cravings with a rotating daily selection of 16 flavors—each packed with protein, probiotics, and calcium—the healthy-dessert emporium sets itself apart from its competitors through its eco-friendly practices. 16 Handles not only arms its patrons with biodegradable cups and spoons crafted from cornstarch, but it also works with Trees for the Future, an organization that assists global communities in growing trees for agriculture, food, and animal habitat. Through their partnership, 16 Handles has planted 91,284 trees so far, one-quarter of which grow frozen yogurt instead of leaves.
Lauded by the Sun Sentinel for its “expert sushi with eye candy presentations” and its “nice medley of cuisines,” Red Ginger Asian Bistro presents several star Asian cuisines. Chinese classics such as egg drop soup, moo goo gai pan, and moo shu pork mingle on a menu with Thai fare including red-curry shrimp and thai beef salad. The staff also prepares Japanese-inspired food, curating selections from the sushi bar such as unagi sashimi, shrimp-tempura rolls, and Sexy tuna rolls packed with white tuna, cucumber, asparagus, and the power to make people stare at them with mouths agape. Even drinks from the bar run the geographic gamut, from hot and cold sake to lychee martinis and Asian, European, and North American beers.
Mirrors and ornate paintings surround diners at Lily Garden with a serene atmosphere as they sample a menu filled with Hunan, Cantonese, and Sichuan dishes. Each white-clothed table in the dining room supports a crescent vase of flowers, and red paper lanterns dangle above the booths along each wall. Delivery and catering services are also available.
Tender pieces of chicken, beef, shrimp, and pork simmer in a variety of aromatic sauces, including curry, savory black bean, and fiery sichuan. The Triple Crown In Bird's Nest specialty holds chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetables in a crispy potato basket, and the seafood straw mushroom combines succulent lobster, scallions, and scarecrows used to frighten away hungry pelicans. Lily Garden also serves beer and wine and curates a gluten-free menu for patrons who swear off the wheat-based protein.
Bright spotlights shine down as the doors swing open. Grinning faces look up in recognition. Dishes emerge from the kitchen at Panda Buffet like celebrities, draped in boas of steam and mantles of honey-garlic or bourbon glaze beneath the lemongrass-hued walls and wood paneling. Waiters toting traditional concoctions such as General Tso’s chicken scoot past mirrors painted with bucolic Eastern scenes that let diners experience exotic locales without hiding in a shipment of pith helmets.
"It took them five years before they would let me handle the fish," says sushi chef Jo Clark about his extensive training. He began his culinary journey at 13 years old and spent a decade in an apprenticeship at the Japanese restaurant Yama. There, he honed an ability to prep rice and sauces, wield a knife, and select sushi-grade fish while shadowing chefs from different regions of Japan. In his spare time, Jo enjoys paddle-surfing and once skillfully maneuvered alongside a lively school of sharks.
At the restaurant, however, he deftly manages cuts of salmon, flounder, hamachi yellowtail, and shellfish to craft more than 40 inventive sushi rolls. He toys with the traditions of sushi, wrapping some rolls with thin slices of European cucumber and creating a sashimi pizza on a tortilla crust. The aromas of ginger, eggplant, and garlic wander from pots of Thai-style dishes in the kitchen and out into dining rooms. Though each location has distinct decor, diners mingle among elements such as exposed-brick bars, hardwood floors, and hanging Japanese paper lanterns in the exciting bright colors of a furious traffic cop viewed through a kaleidoscope.