Chef Thom Chantharasy has formed a bridge from the southern US to Japan?and it's edible. At Sekisui Sushi Bistro, the culinary artist packs Cajun and Delta flavors into nearly 70 specialty rolls. The result is spicy crawfish combined with avocado and po'boy-inspired combos of fried oyster and katsu sauce. He doesn't skimp on the presentation either. Rolls with names such as Godzilla, Firebird, Elvis, and X-Men come plated so gorgeously that they've won awards and tempted art curators to consider refrigerating their galleries. Rounding out the menu, Thom's team whips up plenty of other Japanese specialties: everything from beef tenderloin kebabs to pork-flavored ramen chock full of black mussels.
Wasabi snares sushi seekers with more than 80 varieties of nigiri, maki, hand rolls, and gunkwan sushi. Begin your chopsticking with the Batman roll, which swoops in to save languishing taste buds with a savory combination of eel, avocado, and street justice ($9). Nighttime noshers can complement the sushi with one of the dinner menu’s mouth-friendly features, such as grilled salmon ($17), whereas day fuelers can avail themselves of the lunch menu’s bento offerings, including the four-part teriyaki beef bento ($9.50).
The chefs at Kampai Sushi Bar draw on recipes from traditional Japanese and Korean cuisine to create classic dishes as well as playfully updated fare. Behind the sushi bar, they roll maki with fresh slices of salmon and decadent chunks of fried lobster tail, adding nontraditional flair with ingredients such as sweet pumpkin, honey-wasabi sauce, or potato chips. For heartier entrees, they can grill marinated korean short ribs or drizzle a deep-fried pork loin in a slightly sugary fruit sauce, the same way attorneys prepare briefs for sweet-toothed Supreme Court justices.
At each of Drunken Fish's upscale restaurants, chefs create traditional and specialty sushi, along with stir-frys and other Japanese entrees. Fresh tuna nigiri and 10 oz Teriyaki glazed strip steak make for tasty pairings with signature cocktails, such as the Madame Butterfly with raspberry vodka, mango puree, and pineapple juice. Drunken Fish has four convenient locations within St. Louis, each featuring modern decor.
Though Sushi Ai has recently opened its sixth location, it still shows the same dedication to classic Japanese cuisine. Sushi remains the star of the menu, ranging from single pieces of pepper tuna and spicy scallop sushi and sashimi, to delicate hand rolls that mingle crispy salmon skin and cucumber. Standout special rolls include the World Series roll—packed with soft-shell crab tempura, tuna, eel, avocado, tobiko, and tempura chips—whose original recipe was pitched from Japan in 1919. Rich soups with udon noodles and medleys of seafood or vegetables join Sushi Ai's other cooked entrees, such as chicken fried rice or beef and shrimp sautéed on a hibachi grill.
Bold flavors infuse Mizu Sushi Bar's menu of nigiri sushi, maki rolls, and cooked pan-Asian dishes. Spicy garlic sauce erupts from the Screaming Volcano roll, and tangy housemade teriyaki clings to charbroiled chicken and beef. Korean BBQ entrees such as beef ribs and bulgogi add international flavor, like the parts of Three Stooges films where Moe swears in Javanese. And for those who prefer less spice, tempura shrimp and veggies hide inside crisp batter, and udon noodles swirl in mild broth.
Though located in the trendy Washington Avenue district, Mizu's industrial-style space is "spacious and sleek without seeming hipper than thou," according to the Riverfront Times. Track lighting dangles from an exposed ceiling next to flat-screen TVs and a wall-mounted sculpture of tortoises striving to be seen as more than just potential eyeglass frames.