Ornately wooden screens with curlicues of carved vines and leaves free the aromas of spices, sweet basil, and coconut milk to drift between booths. Beneath lavender walls and intricate woodcarvings, diners slip chopsticks into noodle-tangled bowls of chicken, shrimp, stir-fried vegetables, and curry. As the clatter of plates and conversation gives way to happy sighs, Thai Hut's dessert roster parades out thai custard and fried bananas, which work well as punishment for children who do too much homework.
The Thai Lotus kitchen comes alive at mealtimes, when chefs roll up their sleeves and begin preparing fiery noodles, garlicky stir-fries, and creamy red, green, and yellow curries. The aroma of fresh herbs fills the air as the chefs whip up Thai specialties like volcano chicken and sweet basil duck. The versatile chefs also extend their culinary expertise toward a variety of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, including tangy orange chicken and simmering pho noodle soups. As the chefs labor in the kitchen, their guests perch on tufted booths, sipping fruity bubble teas and imported beers.
Soft light floats in through the shoji-style windows at Bangkok Thai & Sushi, where the menu lists a diversity of Thai curry and noodle dishes such as garlic pepper chicken or roast duck in Thai chili sauce. Sushi chefs prepare rainbow rolls, which wrap the traditional California roll in red tuna, salmon, and avocado, as well as black dragon rolls, which contain spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, and eel.
Asian Bowl's menu is loaded with both iconic and unique dishes from Thailand and Japan. The roasted duck, a boneless slab of poultry slathered in homemade soy sauce and escorted by pineapples and steamed broccoli ($10.95), represents Thailand's cuisine more effectively than Ms. Thailand dressed in a gown of rice noodles. Patrons can taste the Land of the Rising Sun noodle by noodle with the Japanese tempura soba, which arrives at the table submerged in a seasoned fish broth and accompanied by shrimp and veggie tempura ($8.95), or let their uvulas high-five the seafood delight ($10.95), loaded with fresh shrimp, squid, crab, and scallops, then stir-fried to perfection with veggies and garlic sauce.
Growing up in his parent’s Chinese restaurant in South Korea, Bruce Liou learned to craft noodles by hand at the age of 12. A decade after moving to the US, he and his wife Marsha opened Singapore Grill, building a menu inspired by his travels to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and the space station owned by Nicolas Cage. Diners seated next to a potted palm tree can sample 12 types of steak, dig into beef stir-fry and pineapple fried rice, pick from a roster of 11 specialty sushi rolls, and play slot and poker machines.
The Allgauer’s menu offers a delicious twist on American comfort food. Courteous servers at the Milwaukee location cover tables in classic American fare such as an Angus NY strip steak layered in roasted portabella, blue-cheese gratin, Yukon mashed potatoes, and fresh spinach ($27) and potato-crusted salmon resting beside sautéed green beans and stone-ground mustard ($20). Press a jumbo button mushroom against your palate and savor its rich roasted-garlic, ham, and blue-cheese insides ($7 in Milwaukee), or crunch a jumbo crab cake with marinated peppers, arugula, bacon, and mustard ($12). A virgin shrimp cocktail ($10) spices up the evening without dampening driving abilities.
Thai and Indian influences act as the epicurean muses for chefs at Zaafaran, where fresh, healthy ingredients compose exotic entrees. The dinner menu invites guests to strap on their tongues' waders and discover seafood-fraught dishes such as the crab singapore, a stir-fried jumble of lump crab steeped in Singapore-style gravy ($20), or the saag tadka curry, where swells of tumeric yogurt and cream surge across sautéed spinach ($9).