Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shogun 22 - Why do they call it Hibachi when it's really Teppanyaki?

We took our kids out to Shogun 22 in Green Brook, New Jersey for a meal and a little entertainment. The odd thing is that they call themselves a "Hibachi" restaurant! As you can see in the video of the ever popular onion volcano, the cooking is done on a flat top grill- known in Japan as a "Teppan". If you look at the actual definition of  "Hibachi" you'll find that it is an open grill (like that on an american barbecue), and the cooking is done over an open charcoal or gas flame.

So why are places such as this frequently called "Hibachi" restaurants America- even by themselves? The proper term is "Teppanyaki" (cooking done on a flat iron grill), and a reasonable alternate is "Japanese Steakhouse". The answer? I really don't know. Maybe "Hibachi" is less of a mouthful for native English speakers? Either way, Teppanyaki is as much about the entertainment value as it is about the food. The food at Shogun 22 is good, and served in massive portions, but it's the entertainment that keeps the kids happy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fish Tacos at the Rainforest Cafe, Edison New Jersey

The Rainforest Cafe is an entertaining chain restaurant located at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. Since it is a chain restaurant, I expect the food to be decent, but not five-star quality- generally chain restaurants are about the atmosphere and convenience as they are about anything else- so I keep my food expectations realistic. We were there mainly for our kids, who love the jungle-themed decorations. The food was likable, and the atmosphere was fun- meaning I had happy kids on my hands. There is, of course, more of a story to tell...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wawa Turkey Gobbler Hoagie

Sub sandwiches are, without a doubt, a "New Jersey thing." There are many sub shops, big and small, including large chain stores. Most convenience stores- notably the two most common in the state, Quick Check, and Wawa have deli counters that feature fresh subs  - and remarkably, despite the fact that they are convenience stores, actually put together a really good Jersey style sub. One of the more recent additions to their menu is the turkey gobbler hoagie...

It's a simple concept, that we've all made some variation of a day or two after thanksgiving, but, despite none of the ingredients being anything more than mundane convenience store fare, when it comes together, it's greater than the sum of it's parts. Start with a good New Jersey sub roll, pile on some stuffing, cranberry sauce, sliced turkey, and some turkey gravy, then wrap it tightly in a paper wrapper. By the time you get it home, the roll will probably be a little soggy from soaking up the gravy, and the sandwich will probably be somewhat ugly looking- but the while idea of wrapping your sub and carrying it around for a while is the secret ingredient. It allows all the flavors to meld together and get to know each other. Ugly? maybe, Good, yes!

The cranberry is key, the tart/acid cuts through all the heavy meat, gravy, and extra carbs from the stuffing, bringing the whole thing into balance. That said- this is far from a healthy sandwich- but if you like the thanksgiving leftover thing, you'll enjoy tucking into this one- it's thanksgiving in sub form.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Short Rib Sandwich - Taos, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Taos is a Bar/Restaurant in one of the residential areas a short drive from Giant's Stadium. I've had the occasion to grab a business lunch there twice in the past three months, and had the same dish both times, which, I think, can reveal a lot about a restaurant. I'm talking, of course, about the Beef Short Rib sandwich...