Teriyaki House Japanese Grill2/17/2016
New Year’s resolutions are obsolete. The real temptations toward gluttony come in the weeks after the drunken singing of “Auld Lang Syne.” Burns Night, Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, Super Bowl parties, Bacon Fest and Valentine’s Day all demand that some of us indulge in unusual gastronomical pleasures, and all during the six weeks after New Year’s Day. With that all behind us, this is the best time for simplicity and healthy choices. Now is the Christian and heathen winter equivalence of the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz and Ramadan.
Simplicity is starting to make a comeback in the restaurant world. Even McDonalds has been talking about reducing the size of its menu. Teriyaki House Japanese Grill is tuned in to this trend. The entire menu fits on one side of one page.
Smartly decorated in the scarlet and black of neighboring East High School, the restaurant takes over the former Daylight Donuts venue. Seating capacity is just short of 50, at both high-top and low-top tables, the place operates smoothly with self service. On my visits, the hits of the ’60s through the ’80s played through an excellent sound system.
Teriyaki refers to the grilling of fish and meats that have been glazed with a sauce made of rice wine, sugar and soy sauce. Teriyaki House Japanese Grill makes its own sauce, and it is an excellent version without the cloying sweetness of many others. Entrees are called “bowls” here and include a protein choice of tofu, salmon, beef, shrimp, pork or chicken, served with a choice of white rice, fried rice, seasoned noodles or salad. There are some high-quality choices involved here. The beef is New York strip, the chicken is boneless breast, the shrimp are jumbo sized, and the salad is an organic mesclun mix as fresh as what I have been finding on the Whole Foods and Gateway Market salad bars. Salads also include a generous serving of edemames, carrots and red onion. Dressings include a house dressing and a homemade ginger dressing plus the ubiquitous ranch.
Prices range from $6.75 to $8.75 and include a side salad and a drink. Student specials are a couple of dollars cheaper. Beef, shrimp and tofu options were my favorites. Appetizers, all $4, include fried or steamed dumplings, fried shrimp, stir fried chicken wings and chicken strips. All were bargains.
This restaurant is a streamlined edition of Appare Steakhouse and Haiku Sushi & Grill. Those successful cafés, also owned by Ken Lin, have complicated menus. It seems like he has learned what he does best and squarely focuses on that here.
Side Dishes: Fresh Market Café opened its new store last week inside the Healthy Living Center/Mercy Campus in Clive, in the atrium of YMCA Building No. 1. You don’t have to be a member of the YMCA to visit. The store is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in the metro. Last year, owner Keri Rush, “wheatgrass lady,” dissolved her relationship with St. Gregory Detox/Retreat Center and closed her café in their facility on Thornton Avenue. Previously she had operated many years in West Des Moines. She stresses that her store did not close because of a lack of business, just that her relationship with St. Gregory changed… Strudl Haus has begun a series of “classical Saturdays,” which include special menus and a live violinist… Strudle Haus owner-chef Michael Leo and Baru 66 owner-chef David Baruthio are now offering a special event called “Two chefs, one stove.” They will cook special menus together on the third Wednesday of each month. They will alternate restaurants, with Leo visting Baru 66 one month and Baruthio cooking at Strudl Haus the next month. CV
Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.
Teriyaki House Japanese Grill
1014 E. 14th St., 262-2889
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.