Amidst burnished gold walls and soft lighting, Thai Bistro & Sushi's chefs use a palette of ginger, Thai basil, lemongrass, and chilies, painting a bouquet of aromas across the restaurant. Thin or wide rice noodles twine around chicken or shrimp in various sauces, and bamboo shoots and bell peppers float in coconut-milk curries, all perfumed with the range of spices. The spiciness of each dish can be adjusted to suit a palate sensitive to heat or a need to pretend to be crying at a third-grade production of Of Mice and Men. Inside the dining room, pieces of modern art, suspended statues, and images of Buddha punctuate the walls.
Anaba Japanese Cuisine's skilled chefs roll up more than 90 types of sushi, which beckon hungry stomachs from an eclectic menu of diverse Japanese dishes. Rice rolls stuffed with crunchy shrimp ($6 full; $4 half) represent traditional touches, and exhibitionist samplers such as mackerel sashimi ($3) shed rice robes to flaunt protein-packed forms. More conservative specialty rolls, such as the rainbow roll ($12), encase a variety of underwater treasures, including whitefish, yellowtail, shrimp, and salmon, and can only be won over by the touch of chopsticks or a love note written in soy sauce. Across the kitchen, hibachi grills goad kimchi pork, green pepper, and scallions ($13) into proving their taste-bud-worthiness by walking barefoot over open flames. In between savoring sushi rolls and altering the consistency of soy sauce with wasabi, guests can quench thirsts with an array of spirited sakes. Anaba’s cheery ambiance employs a juxtaposition of sumptuous dark wood and leather booths against neon signs and flat-screen TVs, creating a delightful fusion of elegance and fun, just like the karaoke bar in the basement of the White House.
Sleek light fixtures dangle from Kohana Japanese Restaurant's ceiling and subtly illuminate a tidily minimal fleet of indigo and white chairs, booths abutting wavy-lined wall paneling, and plates featuring eats carefully crafted and presented by the chefs. Sharply dressed in the only two colors that can be worn together, black and white, servers march out with precisely sliced sections of signature dishes such as the Phoenix specialty roll, which combines spicy tuna, snow crab, and avocado with a multifaceted dressing. Non-sushi selections, such as crunchy shrimp tempura and baked salmon with eel sauce, also pair well with Kohana's selection of wine, beer, and sake.
Licensed massage therapist Anji Cruz is a believer in the positive effect of bodywork on the mind. Each strategically placed knead has the power to release endorphins, calm the psyche, or boost sudoku proficiency. Anji is skilled at many different massage modalities, including deep-tissue and Swedish work.
Creamy curries, drunken noodles, and sushi rolls stuffed with barbecue eel and fried oysters helped earn Stir Fry Cafe runners-up nods in both the Best Asian and Best Sushi categories for Knoxville News Sentinel’s Best of 2012 list. Blackened tilapia and thai teriyaki chicken stand on plates beside walls decorated with art from local artists. Wine and beer flow freely at the black-and-white checkered bar, which also served as the base for Stir Fry Cafe’s attempt at crafting the longest fish taco in known space.
At Shogun Japanese Steak Seafood & Sushi, culinary artisans slice and serve fresh, satisfying rolls and morsels of seafood. As patrons pass the restaurant's welcoming Japanese water fountains, they work up appetites for 6–10 pieces of the crunchy shrimp roll, topped with a crown of crunchies and eel sauce ($6.50), or the Mexican roll ($10), which celebrates Mexico's rich sushi-making heritage with fried snapper and a spicy mayo sauce. In addition to slinging tightly wrapped cylinders, Shogun also delicately plates nigiri—two pieces per order—such as flying-fish roe ($3.50) or red clam ($5). As diners savor the magnificent mouthbursts of crabmeat-packed California rolls ($4.50) or flash-fried oyster tempura rolls ($7), they can watch sushi wranglers deftly prepare rolls before their very eyes or fix their gazes on the bar's TV for regular airings of sports or competitive napping tournaments.