A quartet of tatami welcomes guests into a traditional Japanese dining experience, replete with short-legged tables and floor mats to sit on. To help diners become one with the culturally distinctive surrounds, servers dispense and occasionally spoon-feed classic entrees that include broiled salmon covered in teriyaki sauce, korean barbecue ribs, and deep-fried chicken katsu. Patrons can also dine at American-style tables in the main dining room or sidle up to the sushi bar to ponder 20 nigiri and 21 specialty rolls with names such as Salmon Killer and I Love Shrimp.:m]]
The draw here is variety—there are 10 types of ramen to choose from with soy sauce, miso, or salt broth. The most popular comes with barbecued pork, bean sprouts, green onions, corn, seaweed, and egg. For a heartier meal, try the ramen combo, which pairs a bowl with gyoza potstickers or curry with rice.
Anchored by a pork-bone-flavored tonkotsu broth, the signature ramen at Yuzu comes with stewed pork belly, straight noodles, and a side of pickled red ginger. Though the darkened windows and obscure sign make this Japanese-owned spot difficult to find, word has gotten out, so be sure to call for a reservation.
At Umi Sushi Japanese Restaurant, chefs busy chopsticks with 14 specialty sushi rolls and a menu of traditional Japanese dishes. Servers stroll through the placid dining room, rescuing empty plates from the clutches of Olympic-discus hopefuls and dotting the yellow tablecloths with appetizers, such as the taco su's octopus, cucumber, and seaweed salad ($7.50). Behind the sushi bar, fresh ingredients merge together to create raw and cooked nigiri sushi ($3.50+), vegetarian maki ($3.50+), and specialty maki, including the dragon roll with eel ($8.95 for seven pieces). The Umi special sauce marinates thin strips of short-cut ribs ($11.95–$13.95), and the Tanshin bento box ($12.50 for a large) partitions teriyaki flavors into culinary cubbyholes. Diners can augment meals with scoops of green-tea ice cream ($3.95) or signal their departure by gurgling imported beer, wine, or sake.
BaRa Sushi House keeps the focus on the fish. Its precisely, appealingly arranged sushi and appetizers lean heavily on seafood imported from Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market every week. BaRa's chefs greet each day with its very own special plate, constantly editing the menu in the hopes of finally crafting that perfect tiny replica of Michelangelo's David from yellowfin tuna. Sake is always flowing inside the snug, vintage house-turned-diner thanks to Marcus Pakiser, sake sommelier. Guests may dine on the outdoor patio when the weather permits, or host a party for up to 9 in the private tatami room.
At Wild Wasabe, meals are nearly as much about presentation as they are about flavor. The sushi chefs deftly wrap fresh fish and spicy sauces into rolls, then plate them, into edible artworks resembling dragons, sunbursts, or American Gothic. The kitchen also heats up hot soups and entrees, and pours out premium sake, wine, and Japanese beers to complement meals. Diners sip while watching the sushi experts sculpt their appetizing works, or glance at the large flat screen television to fill their eyes as well as their stomachs.