Fu of Kyoto's chefs speedily serve up a delectable roster of traditional sushi rolls and Japanese entrees. Tongues can practice for the main meal by first unwrapping pork or vegetable dumplings ($3.15) and ponder why the eight-piece Rainbow roll's tuna, salmon, and cucumber ($4.39) haven't been added to the visible-color spectrum. Teriyaki-infused bites of chicken ($4.95) or eel ($6.85) caper through fried rice in one of Fu's rice bowls, and the hibachi-grilled fillet steak and jumbo shrimp ($8.99) spurn the centuries-old feud between their families by courting in a thicket of vegetables.
The multitalented chefs at Sakura Japanese Steakhouse emphasize quality ingredients and artful presentation in each and every dish. The traditional Japanese dining room features a central hibachi grill that sears vegetables, steak, and seafood in an inferno of sizzling oils and bright yellow flames. Sakura’s more coolheaded sushi chefs swirl hand and specialty rolls—crafted from shrimp tempura, softshell crab, and salmon—behind chilled cases of fresh fish. Indecisive diners can request omakase meals, assortments of seasonal dishes handpicked by the chef to showcase culinary skill and an ability to match meals to wallpaper swatches.
• For $17, you get $35 worth of Japanese fare and sushi during dinner. • For $8, you get $16 worth of Japanese fare and sushi during lunch. Irashiai's chefs parade an extensive menu of handmade sashimi, nigiri, and maki before diners in the restaurant's new location. Black-caviar sashimi ($3.50 for lunch, $3.75 for dinner) admits diners into elegance like a butler's secret handshake, and nigiri aficionados can sample sticky rice topped with such offerings as fried oyster ($2.00) or shrimp ($1.50). The island roll with panko fried tuna, citrus tobiko, and ponzu sauce ($6.95) tickles taste buds with tropical flavors without committing the faux pas of eating a lei. Yakisoba sautéed with thin egg noodles ($8.50) brims with chicken and veggies captured before they could set out on their morning swim, and a wide variety of bento boxes and lunch combos frolics beneath the restaurant's wasabi-green walls.
In addition to various authentic dishes, Sushi Hana rolls up more than 100 different varieties of sushi to appease seaweed-faring palettes. After memorizing the menu, sink incisors into sushi staples such as yellow-tail hamachi, California rolls, and vegetable rolls, or hunker down with Sushi Hana's signature rolls, such as the Yellow Submarine (mango, cream cheese, and avocado topped with yellow tail and pickled jalapeno slices, $9.75), the Master Roshi's Banana Boat (crab, banana, cream cheese, walnuts, tempura fried and served with Hana gravy, $7.45), or the Tokyo Tower (eel, mozzarella cheese, avocado, egg, fried w/sliced almonds and served on pesto cream sauce, $14.95). Seafood seekers not so stable on their sushi legs can opt for a Japanese grilled-fish dish, such as the Chilean sea bass ($7.95), while meat eaters can hang a fang on the curry-chicken rice bowl ($11.95).
The chefs use their two spatulas with breathtaking ease—their every move honed by countless hours spent over a flat-top grill. Chopped veggies and pieces of steak, chicken, and seafood brown over the sizzling grill as the chefs prepare meals to order. The bite-size morsels are doused in soy or teriyaki sauce and sent out into the dining room of Sake Express as curlicues of heat dance above the plates. Relaxing in bright-blue booths, guests can feast on chicken or steak while challenging their reflection to a staring contest in the eatery’s oversized mirrors, flanked by panels of red-and-black latticework on the walls.
At Sogo Fusion, monkey rolls come arranged in tidy rows across a square plate, piled high with mounds of tempura seafood that lend the rolls the appearance of squat, tiny huts. The monkey roll is just one of dozens of artfully arranged platters. Chefs strive to match their creative presentations with equally inspired ingredients: tempura-battered seafood stars in many of the rolls, a crisp and savory batter complementing the bright flavors of mango and kiwi. In addition to sushi, they grill up Japanese hibachi entrees and simmer spicy Thai curries, which ensure that chopsticks stay too busy to assist with diners’ walrus impressions.