The sounds of sputtering grill tops, clattering utensils, and lively conversation fill the dining room at Honey Pig Restaurant, earning it praise from the Washington Post in 2010 as "one of the most entertaining barbecues around." The menu brims with both familiar and adventurous meats, including pork belly, beef ribs, and pork neck. Diners soak in Korean culture via both the food and K-pop, selecting a protein-rich spread and watching as the servers sear their orders on solar-heated tableside grills.
Chiyo Sushi's talented chefs prepare more than 100 familiar Japanese eats such as teriyaki and salmon nigiri as well as dishes that make use of more inventive ingredients such as monkfish liver, sea urchin, and live scallops. The bill of fare contains multitudes, from delicate sashimi to crispy tempura to savory udon soup. Diners populate tables at lunch and dinner, sandwiched between prints of kimono-clad nobles that adorn the walls and broad, tree-framed windows that allow fresh air in and soy sauce-dwelling demons out.
Shiso Tavern takes the concept of Asian fusion beyond the table to behind the bar. There, signature cocktails have half-familiar names: the green tea palmer, for example, which mixes green tea-infused vodka with lemonade and honey. There are lychee martinis, bottled beers, and sake samplers, all influenced by, if not imported from the east.
These libations pair well with a menu of sushi and wok-fired dishes. There are enough staples here to delight fans of classic Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine, but the chefs shine when permitted to invent. The Baltimore Sun praises their soft-shell crab roll, calling it a visual "stunner" with an "exciting" medley of textures, from the tender crab to the crisp veggies and tempura. Specialty entrees range from grilled octopus salad to the sushi nacho, a wonton wrapper layered with sliced tuna tataki, spicy salmon, and avocado. You can also trust the chef's judgment by ordering a plate of sashimi or nigiri, cuts of fish picked based on their freshness and the likelihood that they'll match your dinner jacket.
At Tatu Restaurant--voted “Best New Restaurant” in 2011 by the readers of Baltimore Magazine--the culinary team unites Chinese and Japanese cuisines into a single smorgasbord. Diners can feast on traditional Chinese dishes, such as sesame chicken, short ribs braised in five spices, or Shanghai beef, a New York strip steak grilled in hot oil, cilantro and soy-mirin sauce. Fresh sushi interpretations include the salmon tartar roll with Chinese mustard and wonton chips, or a chilled shrimp roll with wasabi cocktail sauce. Diners are encouraged to share their plates, and complement their meals with house cocktails such as sake sangria, a mix of sake and plum wine muddled with lychee fruit and tangerines.
Sculptures of simple wooden sailboats glide across the wall behind Sake House's sushi bar, where chefs bend intently over long filets of fresh fish. In front of them in the dining room, tables draped with tidy white tablecloths stand out against the dark, wooden walls, and platters littered with colorful sushi travel on the arms of servers. Behind the bar, bottles of chilled sake wear poetic labels such as "Bamboo Dew", "Soaring Cloud", and "Black River", and at hibachi tables, chefs deftly manipulate their knives across steaks and lobsters or carve their initials into broccoli trees.
The dining room at San Sushi Too & Thai One On defies all geographical logic. Turn one way, you're in Thailand; turn another, and you face Japan. On the Japanese side, "the service is rapid and polite and the sushi is fresh," according to the Baltimore Sun. Fourteen seats line the sushi bar, where the chefs prepare 18 creative house sushi specials. For the selection, just look to the chalkboard menus?or ask the chef to make an off-menu favorite, since they happily take requests.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, chefs pan-fry Japanese noodles and channel the flavors of Thailand into drunken noodles or panang goong: shrimp saut?ed with curry paste, coconut milk, and fresh basil. Baltimore City Paper praised the thom kha kai as "tangy and rich at the same time, a study in contrasts" in a 2002 roundup of the city's best soups. On the weekends, the restaurant also hosts live music and dancing once the dining room closes and the chefs fly back to their respective countries to sleep.