At Hon Machi Sushi & Teppanyaki, the chefs take center stage to entertain every sense as they fashion culinary works of art. Whether they're on the sidelines putting together specialty hand rolls at the sushi bar or searing combinations of steak, lobster, and chicken at tableside grills, half of the experience is watching chefs create the tasty meals. Deep-red walls surround the eight-seat teppanyaki stations that encourage guests to chat with fellow diners and let them know if they have rice in their beards.
Sake Cafe’s chefs mix and match myriad ingredients into nearly 20 specialty rolls. Their culinary centerpieces range from the Red Dragon’s shrimp tempura and seared tuna to the Spicy Kita-Kita’s five different fish slices wrapped around jumbo scallops and scallions. Grilled eel and fresh mango unite on the mango-and-eel roll, and the house roll is a cylinder of chopped Hawaiian ahi tuna, wild salmon, and yellowtail splashed with tobiko caviar all over the outside so it arrives smelling like seafood.
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse's team of chefs crafts a menu bursting with delectable Japanese fare. In the teppanyaki dining room, chefs grill teppan dinners to perfection before diners' eyes on griddles set into each table that facilitate premeal entertainment as well as light after-dinner firewalking. Choose from entrees such as the yakisoba dinner, in which beef, chicken, or shrimp are tossed playfully with vegetables and japanese noodles ($13.50), or opt to have juicy white meat chicken breast grilled to a golden brown with the teriyaki chicken ($12.50). Showy chefs entertain throughout the inclusive, multicourse meal with culinary acrobatics, such as erupting onion volcanoes, skillfully twirling spatulas, or diving out of the window after dinner and landing in the driver's seat of a stolen Ferrari.
Twelve chefs clad in black uniforms and red hats stand at attention over tableside hibachis. All eyes on them, they start to play with their food: the culinary wizards wave lobster tails at guests, set onions aflame, and flip shrimp high in the air to land in their tall hats. “It is not just about the food, it’s about the show,” says Sumo Japanese Steakhouse owner Brad Meltzer. “The show brings you in and the food brings you back.”
Prior to landing on the hibachi grill, beef is butchered in-house and dressed in its Sunday best. Filet mignon shares grilling space with salmon, chicken, tuna, and scallops dipped in house-made ginger sauce. Meltzer and a small army of trained sushi chefs designed their menu of more than two dozen nigiri and sashimi rolls to please even the prickliest taste buds. Meltzer himself favors the 210 roll, a cyclone of scallops, shrimp, and crab slathered in sweet-and-spicy sauce and topped with crabstick, eel sauce, spicy mayo, and a snowfall of tempura flakes.
The icy wind howled as the Thai House food cart ambled down the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, sending the spicy aroma of simmering curry and hot soups through the winter air. It was subzero mornings like these that were hardest on Thai natives Somchai and Jiraporn Namarsa. That didn't stop them from working 18-hour days, though, chopping pounds upon pounds of fresh vegetables and meat and rolling hundreds of spring rolls each week for their popular Thai cart in the hopes of saving enough money to send their daughter to medical school.
The Namarsas’ years of hard work paid off—not only did they put their daughter through college, they now own their own restaurant, Thai Topaz, in the sunny town of San Antonio. Within the cheerful, orange-walled eatery, the couple draws inspiration from their years of Thai cooking experience and longtime family recipes to craft a variety of traditional and innovative dishes. They captain a kitchen crew as they fold fresh herbs, spices, and produce into spicy curries, flavorful noodle dishes, and their new grandson's favorite—homemade coconut-mango ice cream.