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With its origins strongly rooted in St. Louis' former top-flight Japanese restaurant, Robata, Ariake Japanese Steakhouse combines a teppanyaki steak house, where your meal is cooked at your table, with a full sushi bar and a Thai restaurant. While the Japanese menu focuses mostly on the various meats and seafood that will be sizzled right where you sit, such as their filet mignon or lobster, the Thai side turns its culinary attention more toward the sauces and curries that flavor your dish. In addition to the usual pad Thai and stir-fried items, Ariake's Thai menu includes a crispy catfish and garlic frog legs with a spicy sauce. Their sushi menu offers sashimi, rolled sushi and a variety of specialty rolls.
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.
The walls are a vivid magenta, the music an eclectic mix of mellow, head-nodding tunes - this is a sushi lounge, not a sushi restaurant. The emphasis is on rolls of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink variety. The "Godzilla Roll" features tempura-fried tuna and spicy tuna (as well as crisscrossing spicy sauces), while the "Lemon Drop Roll" adds lemon zest and honey wasabi to a standard combination of salmon, crab, cream cheese and avocado. The nigiri sushi selection is conventional. Basic Japanese fare like tempura meat and vegetables, as well as soba and udon noodles, is also available.
Eliott Harris won a following for his work behind the sushi bar at Miso on Meramec in Clayton. Now he has gone solo — and mobile — with Chop Shop, serving inventive, overstuffed sushi rolls that you can hold in your hand to eat, like a wrap or burrito. Rolls include the “El Camino” (spicy yellowfin tuna with cucumber, avocado and a ginger-garlic ponzu) and the “Woodie” (snow crab utzed with a chile aioli).
Audacious sushi creations in a mod lounge setting: The Drunken Fish is like one giant experiment to see just how sexy raw fish (and other Japanese food styles) can go. The house rolls throw together everything but the sushi mat: crab meat, radish sprouts, scallions, carrots, eel sauce, avocado, baked scallops, asparagus, tempura, mayonnaise -- and, oh yeah, sometimes rice too. Simpler preparations excel here, like the clean tuna tataki and steak teriyaki, the tempura vegetables and the ice cream-based desserts. As St. Louis' latest stab at a bona fide sushi lounge, the Drunken Fish may prove the start of a whole new dining trend. See listing for second location under "Midtown/West End."
Trendy Central West End spot Drunken Fish, brainchild of Munsok So, brings sushi with a club twist. New-style sashimi offerings include red snapper carpaccio and yellowtail Mexicano, which adds jalapeño pico de gallo and ponzu sauce to the mix. Sake cocktails provide a buzz to go with the fish. This posh sushi lounge also features national and local DJs spinning techno, house and jungle every night. The West Port spot has more of a restaurant feel than the clubbier Central West End location, but no matter which Drunken Fish you choose, make sure your wallet is loaded
What can you get at this enormous all-you-can-eat buffet? Everything, it seems, but the ornamental fish. There are stations for dim sum, sushi, Mongolian barbecue and pho, as well as standard Chinese- and American-restaurant fare. The food may not compare to your favorite Chinese (or Japanese or Mongolian or Vietnamese) restaurant, but families, especially, will find something to satisfy everyone - and their budgets - here. But even the snobbiest foodies will be won over (or worn down) by the spirit of fun and culinary adventure: Where else can you try, say, jellyfish, and walk away from your unfinished plate without shame?
A sushi restaurant with more to offer than sushi - though those with a craving will be more than satisfied by the nigiri sushi, sashimi and rolls. Don't overlook the rest of the menu, though. The Japanese fare (some of it given a Southeast Asian twist, compliments of chef and owner Paul Kulkanjanatorn) is more than worthy of consideration. An order of miso ramen brings a big bowl of broth with pork, hard-boiled egg, vegetables and a tangle of noodles, while gindara miso is an elegant black cod preparation, fork-tender and delectable.
This cavernous restaurant in the Delmar Loop describes its cuisine as "pioneering Asian fusion." Fans of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine will likely describe the dishes as defanged. Few dishes provide much flavor, let alone the vast array of vibrant flavors that any one of the aforementioned cuisines have to offer. Fortunately, Ginger Bistro is located only a short walk or drive from restaurants that serve the genuine article.
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