IF YOU GO
• Where: Teriyaki of Japan Hibachi & Sushi, 4142 Ringgold Road.
• Phone: 475-5852.
• Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
• Price range: $3.49 (vegetable teriyaki)-$7.29 (any two combinations).
Located inside the old Wendy's on Ringgold Road, just in front of the even older former East Ridge Youth Association swimming pool, Teriyaki of Japan Hibachi & Sushi proved to be a pleasant surprise during a recent lunchtime visit.
A friend has told me for months that it was his family's go-to restaurant in the area. While I didn't doubt his recommendation, I never got around to trying it.
Like the actual restaurant itself, the menu is fairly spartan. It would appear that the idea is to focus on a few items and do them well, which is fine by me. I'm always leery of overly large menus.
Appetizers include egg roll, spring roll, crab rangoon (99 cents each) and fried dumplings ($2.99).
Kids under 10 also can choose chicken nuggets or fries for $2.99.
Entree items on the teriyaki menu are chicken, beef, shrimp, scallops and vegetables. The hibachi menu features steak, shrimp or scallops. You can get combinations on both, and each comes with fried rice and vegetables.
The surprise for me was the sushi rolls. Most were $3.99, and you can get a combination of any three for $9.99, though the cashier said it's important to get there early because they run out.
I followed my friend's lead and ordered the hibachi combination with shrimp and steak ($7.29). I also got a Rainbow Roll ($4.99).
Part of the appeal for hibachi-style cooking is that it's pretty simple and it allows the flavors of the dish to be the star. Both the steak and the shrimp were cooked just right, with the flavors seared in. The easiest way to mess it up is by serving fatty or chewy beef or overcooking it. Not so here.
The vegetables were especially well done.
The Rainbow Rolls were as pretty to look at as they were tasty with salmon, tuna and avocado providing both color and flavor. The wasabi could have been spicier, but overall I was glad I chose it.
Like I said earlier, it's a no-frills kind of place. You order at the cash register, and then your food is brought to you.
The combination plates were delivered before the rolls, which was fine. We asked for extra soy sauce, which seemed to confuse the server, who didn't seem to understand why we didn't find it at the condiments area. He eventually figured out, as we had, that there wasn't any there.
While it's clear from the layout that the place used to be something else, they've managed to alter the atmosphere enough to not be too distracting. TVs on the wall are a pretty good indication of the casual nature of the restaurant.
I will return again for lunch whenever I'm in the area. I can't say that the food was overwhelmingly good, but it was good.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.