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Dining out: Tepanyaki

Published: Friday, Sept. 15 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

WEST JORDAN — If you like your food as fresh-cooked as it can possibly be, Tepanyaki is the restaurant for you — as well as if you like your food high-quality and expertly prepared.
And if you like to have fun at dinner, you also may want to stop by sometime. Just pick that time carefully.
We tried on a couple of other occasions (at typical dinner hours, between about 6:30 and 8 p.m.) to visit Tepanyaki's Jordan Landing location for dinner, but the wait was too long for us, especially with the kids in tow. So this time, on a recent Saturday, we made sure to arrive for an early dinner, well before 6 p.m. Even then, the wait was 20 minutes, but we could handle that.
We were seated at one of Tepanyaki's 10 or so grilling stations, along with another small group (each half of a two-grill station seats 10 people). Warning for people with kids: The grills are sizzling hot all the time, so keep those little fingers clear. It's really not difficult — the eating counters that form an apron around each grill are nice and wide.
We ordered two kids' meals — teriyaki chicken and sukiyaki beef — for our three girls to share, and they were plenty. My husband and I ordered the "House Deluxe Feast for Two," which includes appetizers, three-meat entrees, fried rice and ice cream for just over 50 bucks. Sounds expensive, maybe, but you really do get a ton of food, all of it delicious.
As we waited for our chef to arrive, an efficient server brought us drinks, simple and almost-clear onion soup, and appetizers, in our case the chicken wings and beef kushi. These wings weren't buffalo style, but a typically Japanese presentation of simple perfection, with crisp breading and moist, savory meat.
My husband and I barely got a bite of the kushi — squares of marinated beef skewered with grilled peppers and onions — before the kids pounced and devoured it. Luckily, the real fun was about to start.
Our chef, arriving with a cartful of equipment and ingredients, went about his acrobatic duties with a wry, understated flair. He started with a dramatic flame to clean the grill, then got right down to things by tossing a couple of eggs, veggies and rice onto the grill. The rice jumped and popped as it cooked, releasing an enticing nutty aroma, and when the chef slid it into Japanese bowls, flipped each one deftly on his spatula and presented them at our places, it was just about the best fried rice you could imagine.
The tastiness continued from there. The veggies — onions, halved mushrooms and zucchini seasoned with soy and quick-grilled, were so good that my husband actually ate squash. The chicken was browned and juicy, the shrimp sweet and fresh, even those we caught in our mouths as our chef flipped them at us.
But the very best was the filet mignon: sliced into cubes, seared on the outside and grilled to our specified doneness, with just a touch of Asian seasoning to set off its tender juiciness.
Appetizers $2.50-$29.50, sushi (maki, nigiri and special rolls) $4-$10.50, sushi combinations $8.50-$22, sides $1.50-$2.75, entrees $9.95-$35.95, combinations $17.95-$27.95, specials and feasts $22.95-$52.95, kids' meals $7.50-$8.50, desserts $3-$4.

Rating: *** 1/2
Where: 7233 S. Plaza Center Drive (Jordan Landing), West Jordan (other locations in Clearfield, Provo and Lehi; all but Provo have sushi bars)
Hours: Daily 3:30-10:30 p.m.
Payment: No checks accepted
Phone: 282-9700
Wheelchair access: Some difficulties (crowded eating area, two wide, shallow stairs into main dining area)


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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