More than 15 years of preparing sushi at upscale locales have imbued chef Soon Park with a deep regard for this culinary tradition. Still, he isn't afraid to push his creations into the oven once and a while—his signature Dragon Breath roll sprinkles bread crumbs and garlic over shrimp tempura, which bakes in the kitchen before spicy mayo, chili sauce, and chili tobiko provide a finishing garnish. A simultaneous devotion to ritual and experimentation has enabled Chef Soon to complement these inventive rolls with sushi mainstays, such as Japanese-imported red snapper nigiri and fresh tuna sashimi. Whether he's dreaming up a new entree or wrapping a California roll, his mission remains the same: give each ingredient its due time in the spotlight. Rather than mask flavors with soy sauce or chopsticks made from cinnamon sticks, Chef Soon carefully balances each taste and texture within a given dish. Tender eel precedes crisp bites of lobster tempura on the Golden Lobster roll, which also surprises palates with the tang of spicy mayo and unagi sauces. The Octo nigiri, meanwhile, contrasts spicy salmon with spicy octopus, and a filo-wrapped ahi appetizer deep-fries tuna, cream cheese, and avocado into a flaky shell.
Tanaka spent his childhood in both Japan and Korea, allowing him to master each style of cooking before making his way to the United States. While here, he sharpened his chef-owner skills at a restaurant in New Mexico before bringing his breadth of culinary knowledge to Lisle’s own Tanaka Sushi. Tanaka’s hands are as agile as the local paper snowflake maker as he slices tuna, eel, avocados, pickled radishes, and green bell peppers for his sushi rolls. His intimate, cafeteria-style eatery also warms bellies with Korean staples, such as spicy kimchi soup and bibimbap—a mishmash of vegetables, egg, and spicy squid served in a hot stone bowl.
Orchid’s 7,000 square feet of sleek feasting space invites diners to sample a smorgasbord of contemporary pan-Asian cuisine featuring fresh sushi, hearty Korean barbecue, sweet Thai curries, and more. Entrees such as the braised Korean short ribs ($22) and the Thai green curry with shrimp ($16) detonate saucy taste explosions along thin red lip lines. Chlorophyll-friendly options include the vegetarian dinner plate ($15), a meatless medley of tofu steak, seaweed salad, kabocha mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables glazed in a miso-teriyaki sauce. For professional chopstick twirlers, Orchid offers an expansive selection of specialty sushi, including Crunch Melt, with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and melted mozzarella, drizzled with unagi sauce ($14), and Salmon Obsession, a savory mix of fried and fresh salmon ($16) named in honor of Calvin Klein's best-selling portable grill.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.
BopNgrill serves original fusion cuisine that is equal parts American fast food and Korean culinary tradition. Its menu of intriguing dishes will tickle the brain's reward centers while peaking comestible curiosity. Order up a bop plate such as the marinated beef short ribs ($9) or two grilled tilapia filets ($8)—all bop dishes come side-kicked with rice, a side salad, and fries. The restaurant’s signature burgers are made from 100% fresh Angus beef, and include options such as the kimchi ($5.99), a single patty crowned with sautéed kimchi, a fried egg, bacon, cheese, kochujang, and cabbage. Or opt for the dynamic aquatic landlubbery of the surf and turf ($6.99), a single patty with jumbo shrimp, bacon, barbecue sauce, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Non-traditional eggrolls ($2 each) come in a number of odd variations sure to titillate even the stodgiest anthropologist, such as Philly cheesesteak, mac 'n' cheese, and hot fudge brownie. Grab quick and tasty grub and return to your cataloguing of every word in twin-speak with bopNgrill.