The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
Chin Chin-Mu Lan tempers the raw rage of growling stomachs with a menu of specialty sushi rolls and saucy Chinese plates. Traditional dishes such as general tso's chicken provide the comforting familiarity of a heated blanket embroidered with your family portrait ($6.75 lunch, $11.00 dinner). Mu Lan specialties include the Happy Family—a crowd-pleasing compilation of meat and seafood sautéed with mixed vegetables ($6.75 lunch, $14.45 dinner). Sushi rolls such as the Chin Chin crunch roll wrap up an assortment of seafood with land-based treats including asparagus and chili mayonnaise ($10). Chefs happily customize the hotness level of any spicy dish to each customer's unique tongue print.
Named after the Japanese word for happy, Genki Noodles & Sushi captures the feel-good delicacies enjoyed by owner Reid Zeising during his childhood in Tokyo. Reid now oversees three locations that dish out a signature menu of traditional and experimental sushi rolls, tuna specialties, and Japanese barbecue bowls packed with grilled meats or tofu mixed with noodles or rice. In many dishes, classic flavors of spicy tuna and fresh water eel mingle with unusual additions such as parmesan cheese or mango.
Though each location sports its own distinct décor, all three locations glow under flat screen TVs and the blue light of fish tanks populated by ocean critters and a merman trapped in the body of a hermit crab. The Virginia Highlands location mingles exposed brick with a covered outdoor patio replete with breezy fans.
True to its name, Maki Fresh crafts all of their dishes?from traditional sushi to their unique maki sliders?the moment guests place their order. Beyond classic sushi rolls, the menu features sashimi-grade fish arranged into unorthodox dishes. For example, a hibachi bowl comes with carrots, cucumbers, and spicy sauce atop filet, and burgers surprise taste buds with the interplay of pickles, maki spicy sauce, and tempura onion rings. Maki's chefs ramp up production for catering services, and host private parties of up to 30 people in the Atlanta location's private dining room.
Within the cozy confines of Thai & Sushi's scarlet-walled eatery, taste buds can surf the fusion of flavors surging through a menu teeming with traditional Thai dishes and Japanese-style sushi platters. Tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab, and masago snuggle in a blanket of avocado and soy nori bedded down in the pineapple-slathered Hawaiian roll ($11.95). Olympic-medaled vegetable rolls lithely springboard from a platform of cucumber, avocado, asparagus, inari, and shiitake mushrooms into awaiting mouth caverns ($8) and pad thai chicken roosts in a spicy nest of rice noodles ($9.75). The sweet aroma of fresh ginger mingles with the sizzling serenade of chicken, beef, or pork and a garden-torn quartet of onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and expatriated lawn gnomes ($9.95).
The new year is a time for introspection and the setting of resolutions, with goals such as eating healthier, joining a gym, or no longer stealing the neighbor's parrot. Celebrate one last night of parrot-snatching with today's Groupon: for $79, you get one ticket to a New Years Eve party at Shout on December 31 at 7 p.m.