Within the geisha-adorned stained-glass doors at Sakura, chefs serve up a tasty array of Asian favorites and sushi specialties in an elegant atmosphere outfitted with mosaic murals, warm cherry accents, and traditional Japanese artwork. Sushi artisans delight diners by handcrafting classic and unique rolls behind a granite bar before comically slipping on tempura banana peels. The Pitch dubs the unexpected décor accents, such as stuffed pandas and a curtain of plastic crystals, as a “blend of the glamorous and the absurd,” also proclaiming that Sakura is “a good date restaurant” because of its mood lighting and romantic music.
A chef stands over a flaming tableside teppanyaki grill, twirling his cooking instruments in the air and catching them in each hand. As his audience whistles and cheers, he sears juicy morsels of filet mignon, chicken, and seafood alongside colorful slices of mixed vegetables. Chefs are equally busy behind the sushi counter, artfully arranging more than 100 different types of rolls with fresh tuna, spicy salmon, and crispy shrimp tempura. At the bar, expert mixologists shake premium liquors and juices into cocktails, garnishing them with duos of plump olives and curls of lemon rind. At nightfall as the moon filters in through the skylight windows, the contemporary dining room comes alive with glimmering televisions, lively music, and friends debating the existence of wood nymphs over drinks.
After moving to Kansas City from Tokyo in the early 90s, Saeko Tsunashima wanted to create a restaurant similar to her favorites in Japan. She combined her original recipes, many of which were inspired by her mother, and enlisted culinary expertise from bona fide sushi chefs to create the menu at Sushi Gin Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar. Along the way, she developed considerable sushi skills, and regularly unveils her flashy knifesmanship at the sushi bar. To keep the gustatory experience fresh, she consistently creates new menu items, many of which pay homage to cities or natural phenomena, such as the New Orleans roll, the tornado roll, or the That One Time it Rained Halibut roll.
At Edokko, the fanfare of teppanyaki shows has been exchanged for the peace of a secluded bamboo forest—an ambiance bolstered by the stalks that grow near the entrance. As guests pass between the greenery and the clear surface of a koi pond, they enter into a gold-and-red dining room, where polished stones form mosaics of grappling sumo wrestlers on the walls. At the sushi bar, 18 seats line a granite countertop, allowing diners prime views of chefs as the chefs prepare maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.
It seems that a tabletop performance would only serve to disrupt the serenity of the restaurant, says a review in the Pitch, because "the food puts on its own show." Guests receive overtures in the form of detailed picture menus that stoke appetites more safely than jumper cables connected to bellybuttons. The traditional Japanese dishes range from teriyaki meats to noodle soups, and visitors can still order hibachi plates, but without the flashy routine. Specialty rolls such as the crab-and-mango roll or the rainbow-caviar roll collect fresh seafood in expertly wrapped rice and seaweed, and tempura desserts encase cheesecake, bananas, and ice cream in a crispy shell.
Samurai Chef's chefs slice and dice a diverse menu of food right at the restaurant's smokeless hibachi tables. Customers seeking a detour from the hibachi highway can start their feast with the beef kabob ($4.95), pork dumplings ($4.25), or the fried soft shell crab ($6.95). Carnivorous meat lovers can explore the hibachi options including New York steak ($17.95), salmon ($16.95), and teriyaki duck ($16.95), or combinations such as the samurai seafood lovers dinner, featuring lobster accompanied by sousaphone-playing shrimp and saxophone-tooting scallops from the ocean's underwater jazz band ($29.95). Although your Groupon is only valid for the teppanyaki tables, those with images of raw fish recurring in their dreams can conquer their subconscious with Samurai Chef's plethora of maki, sashimi, and sushi.
Don't believe you can get delicious sushi in the middle of the country? Let Kokoro Maki House prove you wrong. Known for a spicy tuna roll that is, in fact, spicy, as well as fantastic ramen soup and the best shrimp tempura in the Midwest, Kokoro Maki House is full of surprises. The vibe is relaxed, the interior lacking pretense. Order at the counter and either take out or eat in. We prefer the latter option, especially for the Korean dishes. Yes, Kokoro also specializes in Korean food, and has all the typical favorites on the menu such as bibim bap. Kokoro serves both the sushi and Korean dishes with all the drama and flair they deserve. The bibim bap, for example, comes in a heated stone bowl that crisps the rice and cooks the egg to perfection, a word that can describe most of Kokori Maki House's dishes.