Atmosphere: Elegant Oriental.
Price range: $7.50 to $13.50 for adults; $3.25 to $4 for children under 12.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Credit cards: All major credit cards accepted.
Reservations: Recommended on weekends.
Special facilities: Private parking lot adjacent to restaurant; accessible to patrons in wheelchairs.
Green tea, kimonos, Asian courtesy: We were looking forward to a Sunday dinner at the Japanese Steak House.
We weren't disappointed. With the exception of a maitre d' who was less than courteous and an unusually long wait to see a menu, our dinner was as good as any we've had.
We arrived at the Steak House at 7:30 p.m. which evidently was the end, but still part of, their busiest tiem. The five of us, our two children and a friend of theirs, were seated at one of the big tables in the center of the restaurant. The middle of the table is a hot cooking surface; table settings are around the edge. The table seated nine in all, and two older couples blanched slighlty when they were seated with us. Our children rose to the occaiion, however, and were models of good manners.
When the wait for a menu, to say nothing of a cocktail order, stretched on and on, the nine of us enjoyed a few moments camaraderie. Eventually, our waitress, who appeared to be overworked, handed out menus and took cocktail orders. She, like the other waitresses, was dressed in an elegant and rich kimono: The colors and designs of the fabric were beautiful. They were set off against the clear white and bamboo screens that divided one part of the restaurant from the other.
The menu made clear what the division was about. There are two types of dinners available at the Japanese Steak House. At the big tables in the center, you can choose from Teppanyaki Room dinners. At the low tables (seating on chairs with no legs) behind the screens, dinners choose from the My Apartment Hibachi Room dinners. All dinners are served with soup, vegetables, rice, tea and tangerine sherbet with mandarin oranges. The difference between the two menus was minimal; the cooking method (hibachi as opposed to hot skillet-like surface) was the main difference.
Children in both the HIbachi and Teppanyaki rooms can order form a children's menu, called Ocosama. For children under 12 the Tempura combination dinner is $3.25, the Teppan combination is $3.50 and the Teppanyaki filet is $4.
Entrees for adults in the Teppanyaki room ranged from $7.50 for chicken Teppanyaki to $13.50 for the Fuji Experience - shrimp and vegetable tempura, sirloin steak and vegetables, soup, salad, hot sake,plum wine and sherbert. (In the Hibachi room, entrees ranged from $7.50 for chicken Yakitori to $9.50 for Teriyaki sirloin, filet mignon or combination of chicken, beef and shrimp.)
Although the list of appetizers was tempting - tempura combinations for $1.75 to $2.50 - we thought the soup, entree and dessert sounded like enough food for us. My husband and I started with a Japanese beer and a glass of white wine.
Bowls of egg drop soup appeared in short order. Our children's bowls were smaller than ours, but enough soup for an appetizer. The soup was well flavored and heavily sprinkled with bits of spinach.
The entire table's main courses are cooked together on the hot cooking surface in the center. Mounds of bean sprouts, green pepper, mushrooms, onions, beef, chicken, shrimp and scallops were heaped on the hot table. As each food cooked, our chef placed a portion of it on our plates. Depending on what we ordered we found chunks of beef, shrimp, scallop and/or chicken on our plates along with the sprouts, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
Our children and their friend had agreed that, in the interest of science, each should order a different dish. Our daughter, 11, tried the tempura; her friend, also 11, tried the Teppan combination, and our son, 10, wanted the Teppanyaki filet. My husband ordeed Teppan filet and shrimp, $8.75, and I had Teppanyaki combination of chicken, beef and scallops, $8.50.
How the chef kept those orders straight, along with the four others at the table, we could not figure out. Judging by the amounts of meat, fish and vegetables she heaped on our children's plates, we wondered if she knew they were ordering from the children's menu. Their portions were more than generous; we wished we wer 12 and under and could have eaten so well for $3.25 to $4 a serving.
Not that we had any complaints. Our servings also were exceedingly generous and delicious, too. Our waitress served cups of hot sauce similar to soy sauce and bowls of rice to accompany the meats, fish and vegetables. We polished off just about everything.
Our desserts followed - cool sherbert dressed up with a gay parasol. Our children made some heavy trades for red, yellow and pink parasols.
By the time we finished our dinner, the restaurant was almost empty. Our children took off their shoes, as the sign suggested, and entered the hibachi area. They liked trying out the floor-leve chair and putting their feet in the recessed area below the tables. They decided that next time they would like to try that room.
Our bill for five dinners, two Japanese beers, one wine and two milks came to $34.50.