At Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, the chefs set out to create a fully engaging dining experience for guests, relying on showmanship and knife skills in addition to interesting flavor combinations. Surrounded by rich earth tones and in front of patrons' very eyes, they man gas-heated hibachi grills and juggle platefuls of steak, seafood, and vegetables into flashes of fire. Across the room, the sushi chefs avoid open flames and high-wattage light bulbs entirely as they roll a number of traditional and contemporary maki, filling each one with delicate cuts of fish and piquant dabs of sauce. Amid the bustle of flashing knives, sputtering grill tops, and standing ovations, flat-screen TVs also keep guests entertained at the restaurant's fully stocked bar.
The chefs at Pacific Rim specialize in a fusion of Japanese and Thai cuisines and have left no stone unturned. The menu is massive—even at lunch, patrons have options that span from a sashimi ceviche to wok entrees to siam noodles. The dinner menu is even longer. It introduces grilled entrees, such as large scallops basted with curry sauce, and daily-special curries with a choice of proteins. However, Pacific Rim is most popular for its sushi, a dizzying selection of 100 creations that include sashimi, maki, and hand rolls. There are plenty of specialty rolls, of course, though guests are given the option to create their own signature roll from the sushi chefs' ingredients or whatever raw fish they have in their purse.
The sharp angles that define the modern architecture of Tokyo Japanese SteakHouse, Sushi, and Lounge reflect the eatery's clean, aesthetically pleasing offerings of authentic Japanese sushi and hot dishes. Chefs cook up some of the menu’s teriyaki steak and seafood entrees the traditional way, behind closed doors, where their knife skills go to work as they prepare fresh meals to send out to the dining room. Hibachi tables, on the other hand, set the stage for a gastronomic performance, during which chefs sear chicken, filet mignon, and sea bass before diners' eyes. To top off the show, there’s a diverse sushi menu that includes creative options such as the Snow White roll, filled with tempura shrimp and a naiveté that’s both irritating and charming.
With outposts in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, Jpan Restaurant boasts a bold red-and-black decor aesthetic and a menu full of artfully presented fresh-fish creations. Skilled sushi chefs assemble complex specialty rolls, or let simple slices of fish steal the spotlight with array of sashimi selections. For those who prefer an entree that's seen some heat, there's an array of tempura and teriyaki dishes, as well as steamy bowls of ramen or udon noodles. The drink list includes domestic and Japanese beers, along with wines, soft drinks, and sakes served cold or heated in the forge of a samurai swordsmith.
Behind their teppanyaki grilling stations, chefs at Kumo Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi flip lobster tails, filet mignon, and shrimp through the air as diners look on. A short distance away from the hibachi flames, chefs at the sushi bar craft fresh hand rolls based on local catches, such as the cape coral maki with salmon, tuna, and avocado, and the Top of the World roll with yellowtail, scallion, and cucumber. Staffers pour hot and cold sake and imported beer for patrons to quaff when not digging into a noodle bowl. The dining area’s decor teems with Asian accents such as bamboo shoots, a zen-garden-inspired rock wall, and a zen-garden-inspired ball pit.
Dale Del Bello remembers everything about his first hibachi experience. While stationed in Korea as a part of the Air Force National Guard, Dale and a group of friends visited Tokyo on leave. They followed a traditional route among his fellow service people, which took him to a hibachi restaurant. Immediately he sensed that he’d stumbled upon more than just dinner. The chefs’ showmanship fascinated him as they seared meats and vegetables on their tabletop grills, allowing guests to sample forkfuls directly off the 600-degree surface. After returning to Buffalo, New York, in 1971, Dale opened his first Arigato location, attempting to recreate what made that dining experience so remarkable. Since then, he has distilled the authentic experience into something that families can enjoy without traveling abroad, establishing Arigato restaurants throughout New York and Florida and staffing them with more than 60 chefs from Japan.
Surrounded by 8–10 diners, these chefs act not only as the restaurant’s culinary creators, but also as showmen and magicians of sorts, dexterously slicing ingredients, flipping shrimp tails into their hats, and conjuring soy sauce out of thin air. Away from the flaming tabletops, meanwhile, bartenders make use of their own skill sets as they mix specialty cocktails, which occasionally use splashes of plum wine or sake to imbue familiar-sounding drinks with new dimension.