Diners expect two things from Japanese steakhouses: lots of food and lots of fun. A recent trip to Little Tokyo Steak & Sushi in Dublin provided plenty of both.
Our group arrived early on a Saturday evening, so our wait was brief. A hostess led us past the sushi bar to one of the hibachi grill areas. Our drink and food orders were taken promptly, and our drinks, salads and soups arrived within a few minutes.
Then the fun began.
Our cook came in, wheeling his cart of cooking utensils and ingredients, and he immediately began cracking jokes before slapping rice and raw meat on the grill. If you've never been to a Japanese steakhouse, watching your food prepared before you takes a little getting used to. But a talented cook — like the one we had at Little Tokyo — keeps diners so entertained that they're too busy watching him to worry so much about food preparation.
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This guy did all the tricks. He twirled and tossed and banged his seasoning shakers and cooking tools. He tossed and caught eggs on his grill paddle and then flipped the shells up and into the top of his hat. He sparked a huge blaze on the grill, which was a nice — albeit brief — distraction for our restless 17-month-old. But most of all he was engaging and quick-witted. He was a lot of fun.
But, you might ask, could he cook?
The white rice was a bit sticky, but the fried rice was crisp. Everyone got a shrimp appetizer, which turned out quite tender and tasty. The chicken and steak was also quite good, grilled and seasoned just right. The chicken was particularly satisfying when dipped into the bowl of ginger sauce.
The vegetables were OK. Not bad, really, but I've had better at Japanese steakhouses. Then again, shrimp sauce can cover a lot.
Little Tokyo is open every night and for lunch except on Saturdays. Lunch specials offer a big price break. It also has a kids menu and more than a dozen appetizer options ranging from gyoza (fried Japanese dumpling) to sushi.
Speaking of sushi, Little Tokyo has a really long list of choices — almost three dozen — such as tuna, squid, octopus, crab roll, eel roll and salmon roll. I'm not an expert — I've only had the nerve to try it once. But my wife loves it, so I suspect I'll give Little Tokyo's sushi bar a shot soon.
In the end, Little Tokyo lived up to our expectations: good food and a good time.
Little Tokyo Steak & Sushi1100 Hillcrest Parkway, Dublin|Three stars
Phone: (478) 296-9228
Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, Noon-2:30 p.m. Sunday; dinner, 5-9:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 5-10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
Price range: $5.95 (vegetarian hibachi lunch) to $27.95 ('Supreme' dinner)
Payment: Cash, credit card
Reservations: Yes (for parties of six or more)
Kids menu: Yes
Noise level: Moderate
Latest health rating: 100
Wheelchair accessible: Yes