The hibachi and sushi chefs at Murasaki Sushi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar concoct specialty rolls, tempura, and hibachi-style dishes such as the calamari steak dinner. While enjoying teppanyaki with groups of friends or new acquaintances made while trapped inside a speeding bus, diners can drink sake martinis and cocktails such as the Lotus Blossom, a mix of cold sake, lychee, and lime juice with a sugar-coated rim. Murasaki Steakhouse is only open during dinner hours.
When the first Sarku Japan location opened its doors more than 25 years ago, few people were conscious about the benefits of eating foods without trans fat, MSG, or Play-Doh. With strict standards that call for fresh ingredients and eschew potentially harmful unsaturated fats and additives, the chain has since expanded to more than 200 locations throughout the United States and South America.
The trick to the franchise's rapid success may lie in its ability to prepare traditional teppanyaki grilled seafood and meat without sacrificing nutrition and quality. Cooks prep everything made-to-order, using fresh vegetables and vegetable oil, even in their tempura breaded shrimp. Some locations feature a sushi bar, where chefs hand-roll sushi.
Hotel restaurants can sometimes blend together in a generic parade of pork chops and mashed potatoes. Rare Steak & Sushi, however, bursts out of the mold with its selection of grass-fed steaks and innovative sushi. Located on the second floor of the Grand Hotel, the eatery charmed Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly, who raved about its grass-fed steaks. To complement cuts of filet mignon and New York strip steaks, Chef Chano also rolls up 30 varieties of sushi. The creations range from the simple—such as freshwater-eel sashimi—to the complex, including a hawaiian roll packed with tuna, pineapple, and fried almonds or the vegetarian salad roll, which Grumdahl was “especially wild about.” A quick scan of the dining room reveals a diverse collection of clientele, as the eatery—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—appeals to locals, businesspeople, and hotel guests alike.
The passion for fresh fish is reflected through Nami Sushi’s aquatic motif and even in the name— nami means wave in Japanese. The fish is so delicious that CBS Local hailed the restaurant as on of the best sushi spots in the Twin Cities in late 2010. A marble sushi bar runs the length of the dining room, chilling the colorful slabs of tuna, salmon, and octopus that sushi chefs mold into signature nigiri, specialty rolls, and abstract self portraits. Behind the scenes, a kitchen staff churns out hot entrees such as the new york strip teriyaki, shrimp tempura, and sautéed ginger chicken.
Described by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's editors as "as close to an authentic Japanese sushi bar as we come in the Twin Cities," Fuji Ya is a destination for sushi and sake served in a "hypnotic atmosphere." At each of its two locations, chefs diligently slice freshly flown-in yellowtail and surf clam, all of which populate the extensive menu. Sidle up to the sushi bar to watch the assemblage of maki rolls and sushi platters, or gather in private zashiki rooms to dine on hot entrees of sesame-crusted tuna and roasted duck with citrus soy glaze.
Southern-Inspired Food | Local Ingredients | Food Network–Lauded Grits | Acclaimed Chef
What to Drink: Befitting of a place that’s a stone’s throw from Bourbon Country, there's a lengthy list of authentic bourbons to indulge in. If bourbon's not your thing, there’s also an award-winning wine list and a selection of cocktails to whet your whistle. Whatever you order, be thankful for it; back in 1988, Lilly's opened without so much as a wine license.
When to Go: If you’re not in the mood for a big entree, head in on Wednesday evening to take advantage of the Small Plate Wednesday menu, which showcases a rotating selection of shareable farm-to-table dishes. You’ll also likely be treated to a 50% discount on selected bottles of fine wine.
Who's in the Kitchen? Since opening Lilly's, chef-owner Kathy Cary has become something of a regional icon, garnering acclaim for her creative use of organic veggies, free-range beef, and artisanal cheeses. She even landed a feature spot on Food Network's FoodNation with Bobby Flay, where she touted her creamy Kentucky grits and gourmet fried-green tomatoes. Recognized as a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, Chef Cary prides herself on an unbending loyalty to local purveyors within a 90-minute drive of the city.
While You're Waiting
If You Can’t Stick Around: When a full meal just doesn't fit into your schedule, stop into La Peche, a gourmet to-go café that operates in what used to be one of Lilly's private rooms. Chef Cary opened the original La Peche in 1979, and she serves up some old-time favorites such as the strawberry pie.