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Asia reflects only a sliver of the titular continent's size and cultural variety. Instead it focuses on those countries many might think of when they hear the phrase "Asian cuisine": China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. Sushi is prepared well, though the fish itself is merely good, not outstanding. Entrées lean toward Chinese and Chinese-American dishes like General Tso's chicken; house specialties include Peking duck and an excellent Cornish hen dish. The Cornish hen is one of the few values on a relatively high-priced menu.
Top-quality meat and a bona fide big-city atmosphere, but you certainly pay for the privilege. The restaurant takes up most of the ground floor of what used to be the four-story, stainless-steel-clad American Zinc Building. Be sure to take note of the miracle of engineering -- more than 50 feet of unbroken space, made possible with something called Vierendeel trusses -- that creates an open, modern atmosphere, tempered by a giant original mural across one wall. Great steaks -- even better if you're on an expense account.
Key West Cafe is a small piece of Florida right inside Union Station. Diners can build their own burger or munch on grouper finger, shark bites, wings and alligator bites. Between bites, guests can admire the fish-adorned walls or play air hockey across from the bar.
Situated for diners to enjoy views of the lake at downtown's Union Station, Landry's Seafood House serves up a large selection of options including shrimp cocktail, oysters or mussels to start, and entrees of swordfish, snapper or Chilean sea bass. Landry's platters (read: combo platters) provide the perfect solution for the indecisive. Diners can also choose from a few beef, pork and chicken options.
A long fly ball from the new Busch Stadium, the new Mike Shannon's Steak and Seafood is, like its namesake, larger than life and in love with baseball. Search among the memorabilia for your favorite hall of famer's jersey while you enjoy a prime (and expensive) steak -- or while you have a beer or two at the bar after the game. The menu is classic steak house, the steaks unadorned but bloody good. For those who prefer more nuanced flavors, consider the daily seafood special or the lamb chops. They aren't the reason you come to a place like Shannon's -- but they, and the buzz of dozens of excited Cardinals fans, are the reason you'll come back.
Mizu fits nicely into the Washington Avenue loft district's trendy aesthetic: spacious and sleek without seeming hipper than thou. The extensive menu includes nigiri sushi, sashimi and rolls both traditional and Americanized. The nigiri sushi ranges from good to very good. Best is toro, fatty tuna belly that's worth the expense. There are numerous appetizers (including a sushified version of the jalapeño popper), and non-sushi entrées like chicken or steak teriyaki. The menu also features a couple of Korean dishes; particularly tasty is a generous portion of savory-sweet barbecue beef ribs.
It's clear that St. Louis Fish Market is known for more than great seafood -- it was chosen for Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence four times and Food & Wine's Best New Wine List. Visit the Market on the North end of Laclede's Landing.
Located just west of Union Station, the downtown location of Syberg's provides nine-to-fivers and Blues fans alike a spot to stop in and grab a drink and a bite to eat. The menu features a variety of Cajun fare and seafood, including shark chunks (grilled mako shark). Syberg's also serves up traditional St. Louis favorites: toasted ravioli, Provel on many entrées, including the Cajun chicken Philly, and, of course, thin-crust pizza.
The owners of Tani Sushi Bistro in Clayton have opened one of the cornerstone restaurants of the new Mercantile Exchange development downtown. Like Tani, Takaya New Asian offers nigiri sushi, sashimi and over-the-top Americanized rolls. (The “Oh My God” roll comes to your table engulfed in flames.) Unlike Tani, though, Takaya fails as a restaurant in nearly every respect. Much of the menu features dubious takes on the already played-out Asian-fusion trend. There are sliders with bulgolgi beef, and fried cheese sticks classed up with a light tempura breading. The sushi is sloppily prepared, only one of several missteps from a careless kitchen that might mar your meal.
In St. Louis, most restaurant discussions begin and end with Tony's, for very good reason. The Bommarito clan, which owns the restaurant, is positively fanatical about perfection in every aspect of the meal. Entrées are not particularly elaborate but are perfectly balanced. Lobster Albanello is considered something of a signature dish, but nowhere will you find a better veal chop. There is generally something available either on or off the menu to please any mood, including a layering of roasted fresh vegetables for the non-carnivore. Throughout the meal, patriarch Vince Bommarito wanders and schmoozes.
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