The chefs at Fancy Q Sushi Bar & Grill routinely have their hands full, whether they are juggling spatulas above sizzling hibachi grills or rolling up ocean-fresh fish in mats of seaweed at the sushi bar. At midday and into the afternoon, the restaurant’s lunch specials pair spicy salmon and california rolls—just two of the restaurant’s more than 85 types of sushi and sashimi—with salads or soups. Hibachi grills come alive as the sun sets, cooking entrees of steak and shrimp to pair with frosty mugs of imported Tsingtao beer. Wooden tabletops and brick walls reflect an appreciation for Japanese minimalism and modesty at odds with the chefs’ entertaining antics as they toss rice bowls high into the air and walk on shaky chopstick stilts.
At OctoBachi, chefs dynamically chop, slice, sizzle, and roll a menu of hibachi-grilled meats, sushi rolls, and nigiri right before diners' eyes. The exotic dishes are artfully plated using locally sourced ingredients, including chicken, veggies, and certified Angus beef. Lorded over by a colorful illustration of the restaurant's mascot—a determined-looking, neon-green octopus wielding a cleaver—the bar area's lively atmosphere welcomes guests to join OctoBachi's beer club, in addition to participating in beer-brewing, sake-tasting, and sushi-making classes. The staff is committed to recycling as much as they can, further illustrated by the fact that the bar itself is made from recycled stair planks and the stools are rehabilitated milk crates, rescued from a life of crime in landfills.
Drawing inspiration from half a world away, Bambu's chefs embrace the vibrant flavors and sharp presentation of traditional Japanese cuisine. The menu features a broad selection of nigiri and sashimi, as well as more than 40 different maki, including signature rolls made with everything from lobster tempura and sriracha to spicy tuna and seared scallops. Although the chefs also try their hand at Thai cuisine by making pad thai and coconut-tinged red curries, the majority of the menu remains true to its Japanese roots. Beef teriyaki, edamame with sea salt, and tempura-fried green beans all appear prominently on the pages.
Inside the dining room, Bambu's aesthetic reinforces its ties to Pacific culture. Lanterns dangle from the ceiling, mimicking the appearance of jellyfish, although a mural of a blossoming tree is also present along one wall. Beyond the main dining room, Bambu also features an outdoor seating section complete with water features and potted plants that give one the feeling of being in a faraway country or a millionaire's yard.
A single cucumber roll. That's how Hana Sushi Fusion executive chef and owner Di Wang started his career in sushi nearly two decades ago. At the time, Di had only been in the United States for a year, but he soon found himself fully engrossed in sushi and its culture. While living on the West Coast, Di surrounded himself with some of the industry's best chefs, mimicking their techniques, expanding on their presentation, and carefully observing their steadiness of hand during late-night games of Operation.
A coast-to-coast move landed Di in the Low Country, where he finally decided to plunge into restaurant ownership and opened the doors to Hana Sushi Fusion. There, Di and his staff put a modern twist on traditional rolls, sashimi, and sushi, pairing them with a varied selection of wine, sake, and imported beers. The restaurant itself emits contemporary vibes, complete with the intimacy of semiprivate dining rooms.
Ta Ca's chefs firmly root their menu of sushi and teppanyaki entrees in Japanese culinary tradition. Although the selection of maki brims with familiar staples, it also features subtly modern specialty rolls with inventive ingredients, such as fried green-shell mussels, calamari, and tomato. The chefs spend mealtimes searing orders of vegetables, chicken, or lobster on the rippling-hot surface of hibachi grills. Wavy pendant lanterns illuminate the gleaming bar running along one of the dining room's orange walls. The shelves bristle with a selection of spirits, Japanese beers, and sake, which bring about endless toasts like a sand grain’s wedding reception.
Some people perceive boundaries merely as lines to be crossed, or conventions to be broken. It's a good bet that a few of these people work in the kitchen at Aroy Jung Asian Fusion, a restaurant that throws tradition out the window to craft dishes that incorporate Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and even Indian influences. But geography isn't the only limitation that Aroy Jung proudly defies. The restaurant's menu contains entire sections of vegan and gluten-free options, further proving the chefs' ability to think outside the box. In an appropriately incongruous fashion, the dining room is decorated with handmade Turkish lamps that cast romantic light on couples sitting down for dinner.