Matcha Ice cream: MatsuyaThe slight bitterness of the green tea ice cream and sweetness of the warm red bean paste are as perfect a marriage as vanilla and chocolate. 7149 Manderlay Dr., Florence, (859) 746-1199, matsuya-ky.com
Black Cod with Miso: AndoOne of Japan’s most noted fish preparations: after hours of being salted then rinsed, followed by days of marinating in saikyo (white) miso and mirin, the fatty deep water fish gains a silken texture and flawless union of salinity and sweetness. Miso-glaze and chargrilling adds a layer of smoke and caramelization: fish candy. 5889 Pfeiffer Rd., Blue Ash, (513) 791-8687, andojapaneserestaurant.com
Ramen Tonkotsu: KazeThis isn’t your dorm room cup o’ noodles; it’s the Holy Grail of Japan’s noodle soups. Chef Hideki Harada delivers a seductive and impossibly pretty version—a full-bodied, almost creamy broth rich with pork bone marrow, chicken, and dashi brimming with bright bok choy, tempura encrusted nori, slices of tender pork belly, and a soft-yolked egg. Freckled with driblets of chili oil, prepare for an umami bomb. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 898-7991, kazeotr.com
Ika Sansai: Matsuya Ika = squid, sansai = pickled mountain vegetables (usually fern or bamboo shoots). Together they form squid salad, a dish with a flavor profile that’s more complex than the sum of its parts: briny, sweet, lemony, and smoky. You can also add extremely tender to that line-up—this squid won’t give your jaw a workout. 7149 Manderlay Dr., Florence, (859) 746-1199, matsuya-ky.com
Sumo Man: Miyako Sushi and Steak HouseWe picked this dish as much for its name as for the combo of lobster tail, filet mignon, and chicken. It doesn’t matter which of the hibachi dinners you choose. You’re seated around a communal table with its large iron plate grill for one thing only: A vaudevillian show where spinning spatulas are brandished and zucchini and shrimp fly through the air; where stacked onion slices doused in oil become a miniature volcano and leaping flames are customary. 2511 Ritchie Ave., Crescent Springs, (859) 578-0031, miyakorestaurant.com
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