2324 N. Germantown Pkwy
On Jiro's birthday, I asked him where he wanted to eat dinner and he replied, "I'm not hungee, I want to go to Target." The monkeys (Satchel, 6, and Jiro, now 4) love nothing more than a trip to Target, and each had received quite a bit of cash in lieu of gifts for their birthdays.
"We're eating dinner before we go to Target," I said.
While Jiro pouted, I turned to Warren for advice. "Wanna try Shogun? It's near the Super Target."
My sister, Tracey, says Shogun is the best hibachi in town. She repeatedly pointed this out last year during Jiro's birthday dinner at Hibachi.
"Do they have 'buy one get one free' coupons like Nagasaki?" Warren asked.
"No, but I'm pretty sure they do a happy hour special."
"Okay," he said.
To be fair, the Nagasaki coupons are only for the weekends. This was a Tuesday night.
We rolled into the Shogun parking lot at exactly 5:30pm. "Is it open?" Warren asked looking around at the empty parking lot.
"It's supposed to be," I replied. I had called ahead to make sure. "Pull up so we can see the times on the door."
Sure enough, open at 5:30pm.
We exited the car and the monkeys immediately ran towards the door. They were quickly distracted by the nice pond out front full of koi fish and started frolicking. After a few minutes of this we were able to herd them into the restaurant. There was a rather large collection of vending machines in the foyer, but the monkeys paid it little attention. They had Target on their minds.
There was a nice bar area immediately inside the restaurant with several employees hanging about. We were ushered into the adjacent hibachi room by a nice Japanese woman. I was psyched to see that we were the only customers and hoped that we might get the table to ourselves. (I really do not like the whole sitting with strangers part of the hibachi experience.)
After being seated three to one side and one around the corner of the table, we quickly readjusted ourselves so that we were two and two. We began looking at the menus and settling in. "Do you want steak, chicken, or shrimp?" I asked.
"Steak!" Satchel enthusiastically replied.
"Do they have fish here?" Jiro asked.
"Yes, they have shrimp," I said not really answering his question.
"Oh, I don't want that," he said.
"What about steak?" I asked.
"I'm not hungee," he said.
"You have to eat something," I said. "What about sushi?"
"I want to go to Target," he said.
"I'm ordering you the shrimp," I said. After looking at the menu, and the many rules interspersed between the dishes, I learned that there was a "sitting fee" for the hibachi that was about equal to the price of a kids' meal. I had nothing to lose, only leftovers to gain.
I also noticed a section on the menu called "An Evening with Shogun" that was for people celebrating birthdays at Shogun. It included a song, a commemorative picture, and a special dessert. Warren and I joked about getting this, but decided against it due to the price tag.
The sushi menu looked really interesting and included rolls with oyster, lobster and scallops. Due to the lack of coupons and the relatively high Happy Hour pricing, I decided to get sushi another night.
As all of this menu investigation was going on, Satchel was coloring and Jiro was patiently waiting for dinner to end. The waitress, meanwhile, brought in another family with two small boys, one of whom was having a birthday, and seated them at our table. Luckily there were enough seats that I still had a one empty seat barrier between myself and the dad. Warren was all smiles and exchanged pleasantries with the family--something I am not hardwired to do.
I was staying relatively calm until the waitress quickly returned with two more people. She motioned for us to move back to our original seats so that the couple could sit between us and the other family. I gave her my best death stare for 30 seconds and then reluctantly complied.
Soon the couple and the other family were best friends, exchanging stories of their adventures with sake. The couple was older, probably in their sixties, but it soon became apparent that they were on a date, most likely a blind date resulting from their participation on an internet site. The woman was rail thin and had huge "blonde" hair carefully hairsprayed in place a la Dolly Parton.
I could feel Warren sending me "It's okay, stay calm" vibes, but the only thing that made me feel better was repeating "I HATE TRACEY I HATE TRACEY I HATE TRACEY" in my head.
Before you start thinking I am a horrible no good person, I would just like to say in defense of myself that everyone has their issues and mine is personal space. I don't like sharing mine with strangers. If you sit next to me in a movie, I will get up and move. If you sit next to me on an airplane, I will go to my happy place and try to pretend that you do not exist. Sorry, that's just how I roll.
Okay, so we put in our orders. I got a beer to calm my nerves, Warren got sake, Satch asked for water, and the birthday boy requested Sprite. Dinner-wise it was steak for Satch, shrimp for Jiro, steak & shrimp for Warren and I. (The early bird special required that we get two meats.) Most of the other people at the table seemed to be getting steak & shrimp too. Everyone had to say how they wanted theirs cooked. When the Big Haired Lady ordered hers rare like I did, I stopped hating on her. Instead I started judging her date for ordering his steak well-done. (A major faux pas in my book.) No one ever asked what kind of soup we wanted, which worried me.
The kids' drinks came out with umbrellas in them which was nice. And we all got clear soup, which was not. I requested two bowls of miso soup instead, which didn't appear to be a problem, but was sure to appear on the check as an extra charge. Satchel, who was starved, slurped up my clear soup while he waited for his miso. Jiro patiently waited for his and then ate every drop.
Our hibachi chef came over while we worked on our salads and introduced himself. He was actually Japanese, which is a rarity these days. He made some Thomas the Train chit chat and let us all know that he had a young son at home. He then got a HUGE bowl of butter and started the festivities. He made a volcano out of onion rings, asked if it was anyone's birthday, which it obviously was, and then yelled "BIRTHDAY VOLCANO!" as he set the onions on fire. The flames were huge and everyone ducked. I looked at the empty seat to my right and said (to myself) Thank God the Big Haired Lady and her head full-o-flammable substances went to the John, otherwise there would have been trouble.
The chef worked at lightening speed and we soon had plates full of noodles, mushrooms, and veggies. He had some veggies leftover, because Jiro refused to allow any on his plate, and he asked if anyone wanted them. "ME! ME!" said Satchel.
Next came the fried rice, which Satchel quickly declared the most delicious ever. He looked right at the chef and said, "This is better than my daddy's!"
Warren laughed and took it in stride. The chef turned to him, winked, and said, "Mustard sauce."
Meanwhile Jiro agreed to eat the egg out of his fried rice. (At Nagasaki you get a choice of white rice or fried rice. Jiro likes the white rice.) I forced him to eat one piece of broccoli and one carrot. When he was done, he said, "I'm tired," and acted like he was going to take a little nap right there at the table.
When the steak was ready, Satchel's plate was nearly licked clean. He held it up and anxiously waited for the chef to hook him up.
My steak and shrimp were both overcooked, but I kept my complaints to myself since Satchel was having such a great time eating everything in sight. He only took one small break to tell me to look at the other boys trying to use chopsticks. "Isn't that funny?" he said as if everyone got lots of practice at home like he did.
Jiro got a little antsy waiting for everyone to finish, but not so antsy that it was disruptive. Once the fortune cookies came, he focused. Normally I love reading the kids' fortunes, but it was my own that held my attention. "This year your highest priority will be your family." I had been struggling with a big decision, and I had already made up my mind, but hadn't said anything out loud. Yet. Oh, but the cookie knew!
I paid the bill as Warren packed up our leftovers. I'm sure that if Jiro knew that he could have bought twenty Ben 10 action figures or twenty Bakugans or ten Star Wars Transformers for the price of dinner he would have been pissed!
We made a bathroom run and an obligatory bouncy ball purchase on our way out. In the parking lot Jiro asked me if Target was closed (or so I thought). When I said no and he started crying, I wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation. After some soothing, I ascertained that what he actually wanted to know was if Target was CLOSE.
"Yes, it is very close," I assured him.
"Yay!" he said as he skipped to the car.