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Dining out: Yoshi's Japanese Grill

Published: Friday, March 6 2009 4:24 p.m. MST

I had two conflicting needs last Saturday evening, when my husband and I unexpectedly found ourselves able to enjoy a "date night" for the first time in … well, I can't exactly remember, it's been so long.

First, I needed Japanese food. Warm and comforting, light but filling Japanese food. Maybe a little sushi or edamame on the side.

Second, I had to make it to a movie in a little more than an hour. As long as it's been since my last date night with my husband, it's been even longer since we managed to catch a movie that didn't involve cartoon robots or fairies.

Something had to give, and my visions of a relaxing, deliberately paced Japanese meal, a la Kyoto, vanished. But the Japanese food wasn't a total loss, because we happened across Yoshi's Japanese Grill, which does a decent job delivering Japanese food on the run.

Or maybe I should say "Japanese-influenced" food, because not everything on this menu was 100 percent authentic. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, because the other influences make for some intriguing dishes, like the strawberry salad listed as a special. With its mix of fresh strawberries, grilled chicken, caramelized almonds and baby greens with raspberry dressing, it seemed perfect for a spring lunch.

But this was a late-winter dinner, so I had a cup of miso soup and the yakiniku beef rice bowl. I was surprised at the good quality of the miso, aromatic and flavorful with chunks of tofu and fresh scallions sliced on top. The only weird part was drinking it out of a Styrofoam container.

Yakiniku in Japan is grilled meat with veggies, and this dish approximated that in a fast-food setting. The beef was very thin and uniformly sliced, so much so that it looked kind of weird, like I was eating jerky.

Like jerky, the beef was plenty chewy, but it had a strong meaty flavor and was accompanied by lots of bell peppers and onions in a tongue-tingling peppery sauce. The fresh avocado sliced on top provided silky texture.

I really liked the sauce but wished for less of it so that I could use my sticky rice to cut the heat. Instead, the entire bowl was sopping, so I turned for relief to my dish of edamame, just-warm, salted in their pods, moist and tender.

I also found a cooling option with my half-size samurai roll, shrimp and avocado rolled with cilantro and seasoned with lemon and Chinese five-spice, with sesame-rolled rice on the outside.

My husband would never eat either edamame or sushi, but he enjoyed Yoshi's version of gyoza, which were deep-fried and crisp rather than true pot-stickers, but they had a meaty, flavorful filling.

For dinner, he had his usual, the teriyaki chicken and vegetable bowl with freshly sliced, very tender grilled chicken over vegetables ladled with a sharp, tasty teriyaki sauce.

To be sure, it wasn't Kyoto. But it hit the spot, tasted good and helped us make our movie. What more could two harried parents ask for on date night?

Rice bowls $4.59-$5.29, sushi $2.29-$5.99, salad $4.29-$6.29, soup $1.59-$3.99, sides $1.59-$2.59, kids' meals $3.29.

Yoshi's Japanese Grill

Rating: ★★1/2
Where: 5692 S. 900 East, Murray
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Sunday
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Phone: 713-9423
Wheelchair access: Easy
Web: www.japanesegrill.com
Also: catering available

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

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