A few years ago, Clement Liu came to a realization: the quality and authenticity of local Chinese food wasn’t meeting his expectations. So, along with his partner, Yu-Hong Li—who was part of the first generation to open postwar dine-in restaurants in China—Clement took matters into his own hands and opened Li Asian Cuisine.
Both Clement and Yu-Hong boast decades of experience in the Asian-restaurant industry. At Li Asian Cuisine, they augmented their own skills by hiring chefs from numerous Asian backgrounds. That diversity in cooking styles is reflected on the menu, which features regional Chinese cuisine as well as other popular Japanese, Thai, and Mongolian dishes, including sushi and pad thai. Equally pleasing to the eye and palate, those creations are served in a modern but not over-decorated dining room, complete with a full bar and a hibachi-style cooking station.
As if in competition with Sakura’s playful lemongrass-green hues, the sushi artists twist colorful maki rolls and concoct house-made soy sauce and eel sauce. Whenever possible, they fly in fish in fresh-packed ice and avoid freezing ingredients including seafood, chicken, and beef dipped in golden tempura batter or thick teriyaki. After slathering a california roll with ginger and wasabi, patrons take on the server's challenge of using chopsticks to eat green-tea ice cream or pick up a tear-stained letter from a fork.
Mizu’s sushi bar is supplemented by a full kitchen, and together create a menu with more than 80 pan-Asian items. From the sushi bar, patrons can begin with appetizers of tuna tartar before ordering one of 22 specialty rolls, such as the Stop Light with tuna, avocado, mango, and a small camera on the side that records anyone who speeds through eating it too fast. The Mexican roll is a spicy blend of tempura shrimp, tuna, jalapenos, chili sauce, and eel sauce in a green soybean wrap. At lunch and dinner, guests can create their own combination meals with nigiri, maki, or sashimi.
In the kitchen, chefs prepare plates of dumplings and veggie tempura to whet appetites for Japanese-style entrees such as teriyaki and udon noodle dishes. Donburi rice bowls are filled with deep-fried chicken or pork, and the traditional nabemono, or hot pot, is filled with a combination of potato noodles, veggies, thinly sliced beef, tofu, and an egg. Asian flavors reappear on the dessert menu, which includes banana tempura with honey and green tea or red bean ice cream.
Just like at family gatherings, diners gather at long, rectangular tables and wait for their hosts to serve dinner. Unlike family gatherings, however, a flame suddenly bursts forth from the table’s built-in grill, where standing cooks sauté seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetables. Such is the scene at Chef Honda Restaurant, where a row of these hibachi tables fill a dining room accented with earth tones. In addition to traditional grilled entrees, the cooks prepare specials such as spicy-tuna carpaccio and seared maki rolls.
As diners at Yellow Tail nibble on 30 varieties of fish and vegetarian maki rolls, they can wave at their dinner's relatives swimming in colorful aquariums. Aromas of simmering yakisoba, beef and chicken teriyaki, and tempura draw diners toward a sprawling 160-foot seafood buffet to browse sushi and more than 15 Japanese and Chinese entrees. At a teppanyaki-style grill, they watch chefs sear beef, chicken, and vegetables. And behind the bar, which is wrapped in a mosaic of tiny colored tiles, bartenders fill glasses with imported beers, wine, and sake.
In addition to a sensory-stimulating spread of Asian and American buffet fare, Royal Buffet & Grill offers a full menu of Chinese classics. At the hibachi grill, an accommodating chef slices and dices dishes to your liking, whether square, saucer, or obtuse-isosceles shaped. Adults pay $6.95 for the lunch buffet, $10.95 for dinner, and $5.50 to $7.99 for standalone entrees. Children under 3 eat for free and wicked witches trapped under houses can eat leftovers if they behave.