When chef Taka Watanabe heads to work every morning, he leaves behind a backyard of clucking pet chickens and sets his sights on scales. Wielding techniques learned from classically trained sushi chef Shige Tokita, Taka slices scallops, salmon, eel, and other fresh catches into sashimi, hand rolls, and bite-sized nigiri. Beyond the bamboo-topped sushi bar, udon and ramen noodles twirl around bamboo, pork, and scallions, and vegetables and calamari dip into crispy tempura. As guests clamp chopsticks around their rolls or strands of seaweed salad, they can admire the showmanship behind the sushi bar, where Taka and his chefs dice and roll before a backdrop of tapestries depicting famous Japanese art, such as Hokusai's The Wave and Takashi Murakami's childhood bedsheets.
Champions of updating traditional Japanese cuisine via modern flavors and inventive presentation, Tokyo Fro's Rockin' Sushi’s chefs dazzle palates via a menu replete with creative sushi rolls, savory tempura, and desserts that fuse Eastern and Western tastes. The chefs’ dedication to serving only the finest cuts of fish is evidenced in the fresh salmon, mackerel, and tuna delivered fresh to the kitchen six days a week. Within the confines of the bustling kitchen, the crew artfully arranges ingredients such as artichoke hearts, quail eggs, and sautéed fuji apples into aesthetically pleasing dishes or unconventional hats. In addition to sating stomachs, Tokyo Fro’s chefs also guide pupils of all ages through the art of sushi making during regularly scheduled classes.
Voted Sacramento Magazine's best shabu-shabu restaurant in 2010, Shabu Japanese Fondue is named after its signature menu item, shabu-shabu—a dish that is cooked and eaten at the table. After submerging delicate slices of meat, seafood, or vegetables into a bubbling pot of savory, housemade broth, diners stir up the contents in order to cook the ingredients. This stirring action results in a "swish, swish," or "shabu-shabu," sound.
Guests can enjoy this style of dining while perched on white bar stools at a community table or at individual tables. Each table has a metal hole in the middle where the hot shabu-shabu pots sit or whack-a-moles hide, waiting to surprise guests.
Traditional meets contemporary at Nishiki Sushi: Chefs concoct classic sashimi and nigiri from fresh seafood, such as yellowtail, scallops, and freshwater eel, and they’ve also whipped up more than three dozen innovative specialty rolls. For instance, the Buddha roll has soft-shell-crab tempura wrapped into a tight spool and drizzled with a duet of homemade sauces. The Treasure roll adds a Southern twist—it has barbecue sauce splashed across scallops and comes served on top of a William Faulkner novel. The kitchen team also prepares what they call "Japanese comfort food"—entrees such as ramen noodles, chicken teriyaki, and unagi don, a barbecued freshwater-eel dish.
Situated in the heart of downtown, Kamon Japanese Restaurant's upbeat environment plays host to a cavalcade of fresh-rolled specialty maki and traditional Japanese entrees. Visitors can sidle up to the sushi bar to watch chefs assemble Yakuza rolls, which are stocked with yellowtail, spicy tuna, and avocado before being crowned with barbecue eel. Hot dinners highlight chicken katsu, salmon teriyaki, and pan-fried yakisoba noodles tossed with the customer’s choice of meat.
Hokkaido Noodle House takes both its name and its nuanced cuisine from Japan’s northernmost island. The menu evokes the island’s mix of ice-cold waters and lush, green lands with fresh seafood and farm meats glazed with sauces or folded into soups, curries, or origami cranes. Chef and owner Wei Zhang's areas of food-constructing expertise also includes ramen noodles, bento boxes, and donburi.