The penchant for modernity at o-toro recently caught the eye and taste buds of County Lines magazine’s staff, which named it one of Philly’s Best New Ventures of 2013. The restaurant’s track lighting illuminates a contemporary scene marked by wooden fixtures, vibrant splotches of red and orange, and plates of Japanese cuisine with Mexican, Korean, and American influences. Sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls—such as the signature o-toro roll with fatty tuna tartar, spicy mayo, and jalapeño—are served alongside tapas-style plates of filet mignon dumplings, duck tacos, and skewers of Korean-style fried chicken. At the polished wooden bar, bartenders pour wine, sake, and craft beer.
While scanning the pages of Nooddi Thai Chef's eclectic and lengthy menu amid the eatery's oceanic murals, eyes are forced to stop at words that stand out against the traditional "dumpling," "curry," and "satay." The kitchen staff's specialties cause these double takes on a daily basis, as they introduce eccentric proteins such as wild boar in a garlic red curry sauce or saut?ed alligator in an aromatic herb sauce. In addition to their Thai classics, the cooks assemble flavors from across Asia, including those in Vietnamese pho, Japanese yakisoba, and Indonesian mee goreng.
Sakura Japanese Cuisine traffics in time-tested Japanese dishes. Sushi dinners highlight chef-selected sampler platters and old-fashioned hand rolls, some of which are crafted with ingredients that are rarely seen stateside, such as plum paste and a fermented-soybean delicacy known as natto. Chefs also whip up traditional entrees, including lightly fried vegetable tempura, shrimp teriyaki with miso soup, and hibachi-grilled steak. They even make authentic sukiyaki hot pots, which come accompanied by morsels of beef or chicken.
Contemporary design meets tradition at Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant, where four floors of dining space transition between laid-back lounge areas and softly lit tables set against beautifully scripted Japanese scrolls. Under the soft glow of the main dining room’s lanterns, elegantly plated katsu cutlets bear grill marks that are conspicuously absent from neighboring sashimi and delicately rolled sushi. Traveling upwards through the eatery, the aroma of bubbling udon bowls collides with pulsing sound waves, as guests belt out top 40 hits or their home state’s anthem in a private karaoke room that seats up to 30.
Blue lighting spills out from beneath the sleek black counter where Machi Sushi Bar's chefs deftly wrap maki rolls. They fill each lobster roll with an entire lobster tail as well as crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, and a sprinkling of roe. Other specialties burst with ingredients such as tempura shrimp and spicy scallop. In addition to sushi, the eatery prepares Japanese appetizers such as gyoza dumplings, available steamed, fried, or roasted over a bonfire of surplus chopsticks. After meals, diners can enjoy desserts such as mochi flavored with red bean or green tea.
The chefs at Makiman Sushi believe in keeping their gills and their grills separate, serving both raw-fish fusion sushi and Korean stone-pot bi bim bop. Like the Warren G. Harding White House during Prohibition, the eatery is BYOB and patrons pour their favorite beverages while delving into orders of tuna nachos, a dish of fried wontons topped with raw tuna and a spicy sauce. Guests can kick back at a table or perch at a recently remodeled sushi bar to admire the sushi chefs' handiwork.