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.
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.
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 lunches, 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.
Traditional Japanese recipes and cooking styles continue to inspire the chefs at Shinto Naperville. Mushrooming bursts of flame erupt from stainless-steel hibachis as they sear diners' orders tableside. In between shuffling platefuls of scallops or 28-day-aged filet mignon across the steaming surface, the chefs entertain their hungry audience by juggling utensils, tossing small pieces of food into guests' waiting mouths, and correctly guessing everyone's least favorite astrological sign. Measured doses of house-made teriyaki sauce or herb-infused butter lend even more flavor to the carefully caramelized entrees. Meanwhile, the chefs behind the sushi bar avoid grills entirely as they roll specialty maki with premium ingredients, including tempura lobster and jalapeño.
Wagyu-beef jalapeño poppers, baby octopus with wine sauce, oyster shooters, and fresh yellowtail carpaccio prepare stomachs for a culinary adventure at Musashi Sushi & Grill. In addition to these delectable Japanese-style starters and four menus full of maki, nigiri, and sashimi sushi, the kitchen turns out korean hits, such as bulgogi with ginger-marinated beef and sweet-potato noodles, and American-style favorites, such as steaks with mashed potatoes and blue crab cakes drizzled with white-truffle oil.
Over at the full bar, bartenders fill glasses with wine, beer, and mixed drinks. They also pour hot, flavored, and cold sake and can even turn the fermented-rice drink into a Saketini cocktail.
The diners pass banquettes, which range in color from the aquamarine of a shallow sea to the darker purples of deep water, and opt for a private booth. Behind the bar, standing glass partitions painted in intricate designs reminiscent of Eastern calligraphy divide ranks of bottles. Plates of fresh-cut sashimi descend onto a neighboring table, and maki rolls flaunt loads of king crab, lobster, and kanpyo, shavings of a dried gourd. A waitress strides across the dark hardwood floor and slides menus across the diners' black lacquered table, carefully pointing out her favorite appetizers, which range from duck and wrapped scallops to fresh oysters by the half dozen. In the kitchen, chefs simmer red wine, yielding a thicker sauce that drapes across filet mignon or helps prove to an aunt that the bib she knit hasn’t been going unused.
Tairyo Japanese Steakhouse's team of tableside chefs prepares hibachi-style cuisine right before patrons' eager eyes. Diners study the menu and perform tongues stretches in anticipation as their table's built-in hibachi grill heats up to maximum firepower. Savory smells waft across the dining area before darting knives signal the completed searing of 9 ounces of center-cut tenderloin ($30). Sea scallops dance across the grill and dive onto plates ($21), and tuna steak sizzles and browns ($21). The vegetarian dinner furnishes palates with grilled veggies so they don't have to get their fix of greens by carving up Kermit dolls ($16).