The penchant for modernity at o-toro recently caught the eye and taste buds of County Lines magazine’s staff, which named it one of Philly’s Best New Ventures of 2013. The restaurant’s track lighting illuminates a contemporary scene marked by wooden fixtures, vibrant splotches of red and orange, and plates of Japanese cuisine with Mexican, Korean, and American influences. Sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls—such as the signature o-toro roll with fatty tuna tartar, spicy mayo, and jalapeño—are served alongside tapas-style plates of filet mignon dumplings, duck tacos, and skewers of Korean-style fried chicken. At the polished wooden bar, bartenders pour wine, sake, and craft beer.
Sakura Japanese Cuisine traffics in time-tested Japanese dishes. Sushi dinners highlight chef-selected sampler platters and old-fashioned hand rolls, some of which are crafted with ingredients that are rarely seen stateside, such as plum paste and a fermented-soybean delicacy known as natto. Chefs also whip up traditional entrees, including lightly fried vegetable tempura, shrimp teriyaki with miso soup, and hibachi-grilled steak. They even make authentic sukiyaki hot pots, which come accompanied by morsels of beef or chicken that you cook right at the table?just like anything served at that restaurant on sun.
While scanning the pages of Nooddi Thai Chef's eclectic and lengthy menu amid the eatery's oceanic murals, eyes are forced to stop at words that stand out against the traditional "dumpling," "curry," and "satay." The kitchen staff's specialties cause these double takes on a daily basis, as they introduce eccentric proteins such as wild boar in a garlic red curry sauce or saut?ed alligator in an aromatic herb sauce. In addition to their Thai classics, the cooks assemble flavors from across Asia, including those in Vietnamese pho, Japanese yakisoba, and Indonesian mee goreng.
Sushiwa Japanese Restaurant's sushi rolls set tongues wagging with eclectic ingredients and expert craftsmanship. Signature dishes such as the california, spicy tuna, and cucumber rolls leave a scrawl of notarized flavor across patrons' tongues, whereas specialty rolls such as the hawaiian—spicy tuna topped with avocado, roe, almond, and wasabi sauce—delight taste buds. Non-sushi fare, such as chicken and steak, arrives doused in savory teriyaki sauce.
More than 40 house and specialty maki rolls star at Sima Sushi Cafe. They contain ingredients ranging from pickled radish to spicy salmon. The BYOB restaurant draws diners with fresh salads and pan-fried appetizers such as shrimp shumai. These soon make way for a parade of raw and tempura-battered rolls. Traditional nigiri selections are topped with seafood staples such as octopus, surf clam, and bottled messages.
Contemporary design meets tradition at Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant, where four floors of dining space transition between laid-back lounge areas and softly lit tables set against beautifully scripted Japanese scrolls. Under the soft glow of the main dining room’s lanterns, elegantly plated katsu cutlets bear grill marks that are conspicuously absent from neighboring sashimi and delicately rolled sushi. Traveling upwards through the eatery, the aroma of bubbling udon bowls collides with pulsing sound waves, as guests belt out top 40 hits or their home state’s anthem in a private karaoke room that seats up to 30.