“You got a pertty mouth,” “hibachi,” and “Oriental.” “Alex, I’ll take things you might hear in the South for $800.”
Yea, yea, yea, I may be grossly exaggerating things, but I did get the hibachi association correct because if you go outside of L.A., S.F., or N.Y., the vast majority of sushi spots are “sushi and hibachi” places. That trend even trickled into Huntington Beach with Matsu Sushi and teppan restaurant, but it did not go beyond HB because Alex I’ll take “where Asians live for $1,000 (and teppan does not have the same appeal).”
When was the last time you referred to your black friend as colored? Never, well quit calling the food you’re looking at as hibachi, it is teppanyaki, and Asians are not oriental although that bougie rug you bought, it just might be an oriental one.
Teppanyaki has got to be one of the first Japanese cuisines to gain widespread popularity in the U.S.? My guess is that it was, and I bet you can attribute that all to Rocky Aoki who started Benihana in 1964.
Meanwhile on the East Coast in 1979, Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse opened its doors in Charleston, South Carolina (all I want to know is what the hell were Japanese doing in SC).
While Rocky Aoki was out romancing the ladies and making babies with Steve Aoki’s mama and Devon Aoki’s mama, the South was being conquered by Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse.
In 2011, Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse expanded into new territories with their Miyabi (express) brand which is what I got the chance to try out.
I walked in at 11, it was dark, the chairs were up on the tables, and the grills hadn’t been fired up, so they turned away two customers which was not the best first impression since I had never been here before. I also was not going to walk away since it took me a while to finally decide what to eat.
I love that they have Mothra and Godzilla, but since those are licensed properties, I will refer to them as big moth and green lizard dude.
If you want any of Miyabi Jr’s “we have to do sushi” menu items like every other business does (is sweet’n’sour chicken coming next?), you can go to their website because I’m not going to bother to post or promote those “Godzilla 1998” like items (that movie sucked, just like it sucks that every Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. restaurant feels compelled to do sushi).
I had not wanted to try this place out because “South Carolina” and the vast majority of “Japanese” food in Colorado is not Japanese food, but they recently opened and closed Kazan Ramen (it closed after a couple of months) which got me wondering more about this restaurant group because it was such a horrendous attempt (how bad are they really?).
Look up Miyabi Jr on either Yelp or Google, and you will see a nearly perfect rating which is why I had to try them out even if it was struggle on my end to eat there even if I lived only 3-4 mins away.
If you thought cats were popular on the internet, well the Japanese have had this cat beckoning in customers from back’n’the day (1856). So cats do attract business and people’s attention because after all, it might have been the reason why I’m writing this, and I spend more time than I should watching cat vids on YouTube/Instagram.
To me, this one detail is so Japanese which is that they are not using disposable paper, cardboard, plastic, or styrofoam plates. They are actually using dinnerware which is something I love about a lot of Japanese restaurants even if somebody told me recently in the food industry that the environmental costs are not that beneficial, hmm.
I don’t know what it is about a salsa bar or sauces, but go to any restaurant with them, and people are gathered around them like they’re gathering life saving serum of sorts to take back to their ailing kids in their village. I mean, I get it, some sauces are life, but I was not feel’n these sauces at all.
These sauces are basic because it might be done that way to keep costs down or to make it easier on staff to be able to make them in-house (yea, not “homemade”).
A taste of the 70’s in sauce form
- Teriyaki was a sauce heavy on the (white) sugar and light on the soy and not so savory like the Korean chain, the Flame Broiler’s magic sauce.
- White sauce “white sauce,” and not surprisingly, not my favorite because I’m not a fan of their mayo and thousand island like blend (relish, ketchup, vinegar, onion, etc). It’s nothing like the Halaal Guys who have a white sauce.
- Ginger to me, this was the only tolerable sauce, but I would never use this version on chicken which tasted like a minced onion and ginger concoction.
- Mustard I suspect it is primarily chinese mustard with some sort of thinner.
- Hot it just simply tastes like ketchup and sriracha.
The sauces are very telltale of the overall business because it exemplifies who they are, and from what I had, it capped off a nostalgic experience of the Midwest/South that conjured up visions of bright red and yellow dipping sauces given to diners at Chinese restaurants to dip their deep-fried egg-roll chips in.
If you’re wondering about the “Japan Power” watch, its associated with a Japanese wheel company. If there are any car people reading this, you just might be able to figure out which one it is.
All meats and vegetables are grilled on a teppanyaki which are prepared with either no sauce (healthy) or teriyaki (soy based glaze).
Typically most veggies are an after thought or extra filler, but here they are quite “oishii” (delicious). It’s all that cooking oil coated to it mixed with tasty goodness of some sort.
There is nothing like this in California, except for Benihana which I think only teens go to for prom, or maybe for people with an anniversary or birthday? I should do some research instead of all these assumptions.
Who is this place for: people who want an extremely affordable and somewhat healthy (options under $10) alternative to burgers, pizza, or mexican food.
Who are they up against: every mom and pop teriyaki bowl place, along with Tokyo Joe’s, and if they make it to the West Coast/California, they will be up against Flame Broiler.
PROS: Above average food which was cooked to order, decent quality ingredients prepared properly, a good value, and most importantly (to me) all of their marketing collateral was done through some cool murals (just not sure how Sony or Toho feel about moth dude and green lizard guy).
CONS: the 1970’s era sauces that are some sort of Asian American, Chinese/Japanese blend which tasted a little like the pre-Civil Rights Movement era. Also, they’re all over the place trying to take on way too much with sushi and all the other items (a desperate attempt).
Currently, there are a total of nine Miyabi Express fast food restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia & Colorado.