Fresh Madison Market’s myriad departments pack carts with fresh-baked goodies, organic produce, and high-quality meats and seafood. The store prides itself on its large selection of organic produce—it partners with area farmers whenever possible to carry local harvests. Load up on prepared meals at the sushi bar, or head to the meat and seafood counter, which packages ready-to-cook items such as stuffed chicken breast and shish kebob with easy directions for cooking at home. Giant cupcakes made at the in-house bakery provide tasty ammo for slingshots. Fresh Madison Market’s walk-in cooler deheats a plethora of low-temp libations, including Wisconsin craft beers.
Bursts of flame spring from the tableside teppan grills at Shogun Japanese Restaurant / Izakaya 88. These flares aren't used to scare away Frankensteins; rather, the fiery pillars are showy flairs of personal chefs as they grill tender meats, veggies, and stacks of onion. Away from the sizzling show, velvety-red wooden chairs line a bar focused on chefs tucking seafood into carefully wrapped rolls of rice and folding traditional Japanese dinners into bento boxes for lunch and dinner.
There are plenty of intimate tabletops and booths inside Murasaki Japanese & Thai Fusion, but the best seats in the house are arguably stationed in front of tableside hibachi grills. There, diners can marvel at expert chefs, who sizzle cuts of steak, salmon, and shrimp amid dancing flames and trees that have retired as chopsticks. As hibachi masters labor over the grills, sushi chefs create colorful pieces at the sushi station, slicing up fresh fish for sashimi and more than 20 types of specialty rolls—including the Sunshine roll, with tuna, scallion, and yellowtail, which was celebrated by the Rockford Register Star. The Asian fusion restaurant also whips up Thai and Japanese specialties, ranging from spicy pad thai noodles to simmering Japanese udon noodle soups.
• For $20, you get $40 worth of Asian fare and drinks during dinner. • For $10, you get $20 worth of Asian fare and drinks during lunch. The skilled chefs at Meiji Cuisine, which serves Chinese and Japanese dishes, sear entrees over hibachi grills, roll fresh sushi, and craft Chinese specialties. Prepare for midnight Battleship games against an old sea captain with the War Bar dinner combination, a maritime medley of shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, and squid ($17.95). Hibachi entrees serve up Japanese-style grilled eats with a choice of vegetables and meats, including chicken ($16) and swordfish ($21). During lunch, sample maki sushi combos ($9 for two rolls, $11 for three) that include the eel cucumber roll, smoked eel wrapped in a blanket of eel sauce and lounging on a bed of sticky rice. Or feast on a plate of Chinese-style sweet-and-sour shrimp ($12.75), which leaves diners sweet on their lunch and sour on their afternoon return to work.
Pacific Bistro leads diners through a whirlwind tour of Asia with a menu loaded with hibachi, sushi, and traditional Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Chinese dishes. Begin Eastward adventures by pairing a crab rangoon ($7) starter or edamame ($4) with a libation from the full bar and a field trip permission slip signed by the president. Once tummies are prepped, diners can choose their own adventure with a la carte sushi ($4–$8 for two pieces) or hand the reins to a licensed knife wielder for a carefully diced teriyaki chicken hibachi dinner ($18). Or furnish tables with sumptuous entrees such as pad thai noodles ($12 for chicken, pork, or beef; $14 for shrimp), crispy duck ($25), and mango curry ($14 for chicken, pork, or beef; $16 for shrimp). Meanwhile, diapered diners can use highchairs as a launching pad for launching shrimp tempura ($8) grenades and tossing fried rice ($6–$7) confetti at newlywed birds.
Lee Asian Bistro’s seasoned chefs help patrons to sink chopsticks into a pan-Asian panoply of authentic Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai delicacies. Diners arm themselves for dinnertime treks with skewers of grilled chicken satay ($5.95) or pairs of gòi cuón ($3)⎯overstuffed shrimp, pork, and vegetable summer rolls ready to bounce across tongues or act as makeshift sleeping bags during midnight snacks. The Mongolian Triple Wonder ($10.95) scares off boring meals with a toothy trio of shrimp, beef, and chicken sautéed in mandarin brown sauce, and squid, crab, shrimp, and scallops keep submersed taste buds company during visits to the seafood in black bean sauce ($10.95). Tangle tongues around pho’s steaming noodles, hobnobbing with a savory soup dotted with beef, chicken, and Asian vegetables ($7.50–$7.99). Postnosh, diners trade chopsticks for straws and drink in a fresh-fruit smoothie in exotic flavors such as kiwi, honey-dew melon, or mango ($3.95) or delight luxury-loving teeth by adding pearls of chewy tapioca to the refreshing beverage ($0.50).