The chefs at Tokyo Seoul conjure mountains of Japanese and Korean fare that includes sushi, hibachi, and pan-Asian cuisine in a spacious eatery suited for groups of all sizes. On arrival, guests can choose to sit in the fiery hibachi section, conveniently housed inside a miniature volcano, or opt for the cooler climates of the smaller party-seating area or large-party dining room. Bento boxes ($10.95 each) and sushi combos filling lunchtime bellies give diners the chance to customize their own noontime grub. Brandish chopsticks or taped together sporks to pluck up thin slices of marinated beef with bulgogi surrounded by an orbit of crispy vegetable tempura, Japanese chae noodles, rice, miso soup, and tongue-tickling ginger salad. The midday sushi and maki combo simmers with a steamy side of miso soup that complements delectable california rolls and nigiri ($13.95).
The chefs at Bangkok Bistro not only prepare dishes, such as pad thai and a rainbow of curries, they also plate up roll after roll of inventive sushi creations. The Schenectady roll marries crab, spicy tuna, and baked salmon with fried onion, eel sauce, and spicy mayo, whereas the Facebook roll showcases crab, cream cheese, asparagus, and roe. Bento boxes come neatly packed with appetizers, teriyakis, and salads and platters of fried rice come spiked with ingredients such as pineapple or basil leaves.
When seated at a secluded dinner table, it’s easy to forget the skill it takes to turn disparate ingredients into a delicious meal. Sakura Japanese Restaurant’s chefs aim to remind their guests of just how incredible that feat is, abandoning the seclusion of the kitchen to prepare dishes tableside. They twirl knives, drumming them against the smooth metal surface of their grill as they use cooking oil to summon gouts of flame. From the dexterous show, they create sizzling hibachi meals of chicken, steak, lobster, and other meats for a rapt audience.
Sakura's sushi chefs specialize in a less flashy craft, drizzling eel sauce on combinations of crab, shrimp, and avocado or topping white- and yellowtail-tuna rolls with tobiko and wasabi. They also make up obento boxes, traditional packaged lunches featuring specific slots for sushi, tempura, a main course, and extra masking tape.
Knife skills are important to any chef, but at Mr. Fuji Sushi, where the snick-snack of sharp blades fills the air, they’re a form of theater as much as cuisine. Standing at newly installed hibachi grills, chefs swiftly slice morsels of steak and seafood, sending them soaring into the air and onto plates via a sophisticated air-traffic control system. Diners settle into padded leather seats in a sleek, tiled room enlivened by rainbow-colored lanterns, Japanese pottery, and tiny, glowing nooks in the wall as they await hot entrees such as teriyaki or specialty sushi rolls—some deep-fried, some wrapped in different papers such as white seaweed or soybean. Continuing the theme of adhering closely to Japanese culinary traditions, the restaurant frequently uses its Facebook page as a primer on dining etiquette and some of the items guests are likely to find on the menu, from pork tonkatsu cutlets to onigiri, sushi’s answer to the dumpling.
Mitsuba's culinary crew rolls rice and sizzles hibachi-grilled entrees within a chic, modern atmosphere. The menu fuses authentic hibachi dishes, such as grilled scallops ($20.95), with hand-rolled delicacies that include the sweet-potato roll ($4) and the Green Dragon—a jumble of eel, cucumber, and avocado ($9.50). Entrees such as the New Hartford Meets Japan, an unlikely marriage of broiled gulf shrimp, vegetables, and black rice ($21.95), satisfy appetites while inspiring television producers with new romantic-comedy premises. Noontime noshers can nibble on Mitsuba’s lunch options, including seafood- or meat-packed Bento boxes ($8.50–$9) or the harmonious lunch-roll combo, which features two sushi rolls paired with soup and salad ($8.50).
Executive chef William Chen deftly wields his over 10 years of culinary experience as he crafts edible works of art at Mitsuba. Plates arrive at tables carefully layered with sushi rolls such as the colorful Mitsuba lobster roll, consisting of tempura lobster, avocado, mango, and marinated crabmeat. The Christmas roll, made up of fried shrimp, spicy tuna, and caviar, is a much better holiday treat than a visit from a money-seeking relative, and it comes with an eye-catching flower garnish. For cooked comestibles, diners need look no further than their own hibachi tables, which double as fiery surfaces upon which chefs sizzle filet mignon, salmon, and scallops.