Hartford has been pushing the idea of it being a "rising star" in Connecticut for years. I'm not seeing it happening anytime soon. However, downtown Hartford seems to have its own rising stars that you are going to have to look for a little bit. Japanese cuisine is very popular right now, and Downtown Hartford seems to have a pretty good grip on it. There are two Japanese places opened, and it looks like there is another one on the way! I still haven't been able to find anything about this new place yet, but it looks like it's going to be on Main street. The two big Japanese restaurants downtown are Feng's and Koji's. The best part is that they are so different, you can hop out of one and into the other. They both have incredible bars, friendly service and late nights.
If you're looking for sushi, Feng's is where you want to go. The offer a late night menu varying by day of the week, but it starts anywhere between 10pm-12am. The late night menu has great prices, with sushi hand rolls starting at $2! They don't offer drink specials for their late night menu, but their drinks are always worth the extra few bucks. I recommend Feng's for sushi, hands down and if you're on a budget, try to get a hold of the late night menu.
Koji's is great because on the weekends they always have a DJ, make excellent drinks and even though there is no late night menu, their prices are always reasonable. They offer Japanese cuisine without the sushi. They offer a skewer menu starting at $2 each, and a regular menu with amazing dumplings, Teriyaki dishes, and all the other Japanese cuisine standards. They have a drink menu with tons of saki, very creative tasty martinis and whatever your heart may desire. Compared to Feng's, Koji's will give you louder music, some dancing and more of a club/lounge atmosphere.
Feng's 93 Asylum St. Downtown Hartford
Koji's 17 Asylum St. Downtown Hartford