On Saturday evening, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco decided to try a new restaurant, the Tokyo Steak House. It’s a new restaurant that is near the Shopko by 27th Street and Highway 2. It’s on the north end of the strip mall (it used to be a sports bar).
We were never in the restaurant when it was a sports bar, but it looks like the current owners have done an excellent job of redecorating. We asked the chef, and he said that they spent about 7 months remodeling the restaurant. When you first walk in, there is a small bar area with a couple of televisions. There are two sections – a sushi bar and dining area to the left, and a grill area to the right. It’s a traditional-looking sushi bar, with places to sit and eat either at the bar or at the tables. The sushi bar side even has a fish pond in the middle with big coy fish. They’re fun to watch! J The grill side is beautifu – everything is new. There are about 10 grills, and each will fit about 8 people around it. They are Teppanyaki grills (also called “hibachi-style”), where the food is cooked in front of you. There is a nice mix of bamboo wood and wasabi-colored walls, as well as some very nice glasswork. There are Japanese woodprints and artwork around the entire restaurant.
We arrived about 9:00 pm. There were 5-6 tables seated on the sushi side, but none on the grill side. We were greeted by the hostess, who was wearing a kimono-style outfit. We asked to be seated on the grill side, and were immediately brought to a table. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful plates at each seat. We ordered hot sake to share, and started to look over the menus. Both the hostess and our server were young and seemed a little on the green side. This didn’t mean that they ignored us, in fact, they were very attentive. Of course, the restaurant has only been open a couple of weeks, so we’ll give them some slack.
For the Teppanyaki dishes, there were chicken, shrimp, or steak choices available. There is also a selection of different steak cuts to choose from like a NY strip steak. The sushi menu has rolls, sashimi, and vegetarian choices. We decided to order a combination. Mr. Wisco chose the sliced-steak teppanyaki with fried rice, and Mrs. Wisco chose a side of shrimp Teppanyaki, unagi (bbq eel) sashimi, and a spicy tuna roll. We shared an order of edamame (boiled soybeans served with salt – yummy!). The dinners are all served with a side salad and soup. It’s not a traditional miso soup, but more like a chicken broth with scallions and thinly sliced mushrooms. The dinners are also served with grilled vegetables (zucchini, onion, and mushrooms) and steamed rice. It’s possible to substitute either fried rice or house noodles for the steamed rice for an extra $2. They didn’t have the noodles available when we were there, but we might have been too late in the evening for them.
The edamame arrived first. It was very good. The sushi arrived just before our Teppanyaki chef. The Teppanyaki experience was a lot of fun. It was strange at first, being the only people at our table and on our side of the restaurant. The chef was fun, and did a great job of entertaining us in addition to cooking our food. He even showed us how to put our hot sake on the grill to keep it warm.
The sliced-steak Teppanyaki was cooked to a steakhouse medium-rare, which may be a little too rare for people used to other levels of doneness. The quality of the meat was excellent. One might expect a sliced-steak to be a lower quality of meat, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was very tender and lean. The sauce was light and tasty (it tasted like it was cooked in a soy sauce). The fried rice was as good to eat as it was to watch being cooked on the grill. Mrs. Wisco loved the grilled shrimp. They were perfectly done – tasty but not overcooked. There were two sauces served on the side. One was a ginger base that was excellent for the shrimp and the vegetables. We preferred the ginger sauce to the other sauce.
The unagi sashimi was good. The fish was tasty. The spicy tuna roll was pretty good. Now, one thing that Mrs. Wisco really hates is mayonnaise, and she forgot to ask if the sushi chef uses any mayonnaise in the filling. It’s something we’ve seen at other Japanese restaurants, so she wasn’t entirely surprised to see it again. Just make sure to ask if you’re worried, or sit at the sushi bar so that you can see everything and talk to the sushi chef directly.
We’re not sure if it’s because of inexperience or because we were there so late, but the server asked us about dessert (we declined) and brought the check while we were still eating. We didn’t feel rushed to leave, but the timing was a little off. Our total bill was $66 for 2 large hot sakes, edamame, a Teppanyaki dinner with fried rice, a side of shrimp, one unagi sashimi and one spicy tuna roll. We think it’s reasonably priced. Japanese food is never cheap, but it is a high quality, and worth splurging on once in awhile.
Overall, the restaurant is beautiful. The food does a good job of an ‘East meets West’ goal, without sacrificing much of the traditional Japanese cuisine while still making the menu accessible and providing choices for people who are not as adventurous. The food is on par with Shogun, and the décor is nicer. The service was friendly and attentive, and with a little more time will probably work out some of the kinks. Given how successful Shogun has been in Lincoln, the Tokyo Steak House should succeed and do well, as long as people find out about it.