Wok 'n Fire—named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living—tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
In 1977, Eddy Ho came to America with the dream of opening his own restaurant. In the 35 years since, he has lived that dream three times over, founding a trio of establishments that spotlight the showiest styles of Japanese cooking while commemorating the year of his transpacific crossing. Whether it's filet mignon, chicken, and seafood chopped by a flurry of clicking blades on hibachi grills or a sleek roll of sushi assembled by deft hands, each entrée arrives in a dining room decked with hints of traditional Japanese architecture, including subtle geometric patterns, crimson accents, and painstakingly manicured flora. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake stand ready to accompany each meal, helping diners toast to good fortune or play a glass harp rendition of their college fight song.
Vintage wooden beams vault over eaters at Sushi Mono, where seasoned chefs fold contemporary twists into traditional nigiri, sashimi, and sushi. The menu's Mono Double signature roll aids bonding between baked shrimp and snow crab ($16) while fueling the efforts of the GlobalGiving Foundation by donating $1 per roll. Tekka don entrees summon 12 pieces of either tuna or yellowtail sashimi to a bed of sushi rice ($24). Fiery salmon and octopus aid the Mini Godzilla special roll ($13) in its quest to stomp out hunger and knock over toothpick towers. In the evening, the eatery comes to life with lights casting a rainbow glow over the crimson walls and Asian-inspired screens and spotlights subtly illuminating cozy booths or singling out operatically trained servers for solos.
Blues and reds fill the dining-room walls at Tokyo House Japanese Restaurant, which features a menu of Japanese favorites, including nigiri and maki sushi, many types of noodle dishes, and hibachi entrees. Diners can watch the chefs at work at a sushi bar as they craft special rolls such as the Scary Jerry with mild or spicy yellowtail, tuna, and salmon on top of a crunchy roll with scallop.
Eclectic ingredients, including eel and mint leaf, fill more than 30 maki rolls and helped earn Wildfish a spot on Gayot's list of the 10 best Chicago sushi restaurants in 2012. One roll pairs spicy salmon, fried tuna, and pico de gallo, and another mixes spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce with Alaskan king crab and a splash of Bacardi 151. Filet mignon and lobster sizzle in the tropical-hued dining room with walls of red, green, and gold and bamboo that sways against the ceiling. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake clink together in high-backed booths that offer privacy during dates and meals out with a parrot that only knows how to say your medical records.
Asian Pearl's chefs practice their craft with multitasking; in order to execute the bistro's extensive menu, they must be familiar with the tenets of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. Rice noodles and fragrant curries occupy the Thai sphere of the kitchen, while woks toss Chinese favorites including sesame chicken and five-spice duck. Japanese influence appears both in tempura plates and in signature maki rolls, such as the Sky roll that tops shrimp tempura with masago, kanikama, and crunch. Asian Pearl also blends flavors in seafood or grill dishes, such as Tiger's Tears—marinated beef draped in a sauce they claim is "spicy enough to make a tiger cry," something that was said of Judy Garland.
A gentle bath of neon blue light descends over diners inside Asian Pearl's modernist dining room, punctuated by white tablecloths and mural silhouettes of golden trees. Neatly folded napkin peaks greet patrons as they sit down at the sushi bar, forming a crimson vanguard between the wood-and-silver chairs and the chefs' busy hands behind the glass. Around the perimeter of the dining room, thin hanging lamps cast a contrasting red and white light from behind scrawls of Chinese characters.