Tag Archives: Japanese steakhouse

Koze Teppan Grill

Wednesday was dedicated to a review of the local example of a regional Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar chain — Hayashi.  Monday you read the disappointing impetus of that review, the rather unfortunate treatment of a once-in-a-lifetime retirement party for an air traffic controller who had dedicated twenty-two years of his professional life to the service of this nation’s National Airspace System.  Today I’m going to present to fans of Japanese-style steakhouses the best example I’ve found here in El Paso.

It’s called the Koze Teppan Grill, and like Hayashi, it doesn’t just stop at the normal Japanese steakhouse fare of grilled beef, chicken, and seafood; it also excels in other things Japanese.  Koze Teppan Grill is located at 6127 N. Mesa, Suite B, sharing a parking lot with a Pizza Hut, a Blockbuster Video, the Sin Tini bar, and Trevly Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt shop.  That’s right — one stop shopping for dinner, dessert, and after-dinner drinks all in one parking lot.


While it’s billed as a teppan grill, Koze does in fact also makes an exceptional sushi, albeit not cheaply.  One of my personal favorites, and oddly enough one of the most affordable examples (although technically not a true sushi), is Koze’s tempura roll.  Unlike other tempura rolls, in which tempura-style shrimp is the basis of the roll, Koze instead rolls around vegetable tempura and places the roll beneath a bed of additional vegetable tempura.  Unfortunately, they then try to ruin it by topping the roll with an unnecessarily heavy and distracting mayonnaise-based sauce.  Do yourself a favor and tell the waiter to forgo the sauce when you order this for your appetizer in preparation for the teppan experience.


Tempura Roll

All teppan entrées include a soup and salad.  The soup goes beyond the usual tasteless miso, giving the patron something much more substantial on the tongue.  The salad may be pedestrian by Japanese steakhouse standards, but tell the truth — has that robust ginger-based dressing ever really disappointed?  It won’t here, either.

Soup and Salad

Soup and Salad

The table chefs here are quite talented — much more so than our experience at Hayashi, in fact.  Here you’re in for quite a show during the preparation of the meal.  And let’s face it — the show is almost half the fun at going to these type restaurants.  Otherwise, why go?  This stuff is easily made at home at a fraction of the cost.


A Flaming Onion Volcano

The Japanese fried rice here is expertly prepared, excellently seasoned, and exceptionally presented . . . and Koze neither charges extra nor skimps on the serving.

Japanese Fried Rice

Japanese Fried Rice

The Accompanying vegetables are perfectly grilled — exploding with garden-fresh taste and retaining a freshly picked crunchiness with just a hint of carmelization and without the taste or texture of being raw.

Fresh Vegetables . . .

Fresh Vegetables . . .

. . . Prepared Perfectly

. . . Prepared Perfectly

The meat cuts do not disappoint.  Filet Mignon is as tender as one would expect of such a cut, and the steak is flavorful without a distracting chewiness sometimes associated with a lesser cut.  I did not try the chicken, but our table mates expressed their approval.  As for the seafood, both the shrimp and the scallops were of excellent quality and well-prepared without a hint of the tendency to overcook that seems common to such establishments.


From Top — Scallops, Shirmp, Filet Mignon, Steak, and Chicken

Put that all together in a nice, tableside presentation and this is what you can expect (minus some of the steak, which didn’t survive being photographed):

The Final Presentation

The Final Presentation


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Filed under Photography, Wine & Food

Hayashi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Today we continue with our experiences at the Hayashi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar — a regional chain with locations in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.



As you’ll recall from Monday’s blog, Hayashi had already struck out well before even the grill station burners were turned on for the main course.  To recap, Hayashi:

  1. Failed to seat our numbers as promised, resulting in two of our group departing the restaurant.
  2. Took nearly two hours before delivering to our table so much as a nibble of food.
  3. Despite taking the better part of two hours, still managed to screw up the appetizer order.


So, how many more unpardonable sins can one restaurant make?  You’re about to find out.


When our shrimp and vegetable tempura appetizer finally arrived, the vegetable portion of the dish was cold.  The shrimp was passable (and at least hot), but the non-traditional panko breading is a poor substitute for true tempura batter.  And, let’s face it, tempura batter isn’t that hard to get right . . . at least not hard enough to warrant going the easier-to-make panko route.  The sushi was good, but knowing this was a shared dish should have prompted our waiter to bring two dipping bowls for wasabi and soy sauce.  After all, not everyone enjoys mixing wasabi in their soy, as is the case with Ursula.  So, out of deference to her, I skipped the wasabi altogether.


On to the teppan-style grill.  Never before at a Japanese Steakhouse have I been charged an extra two dollars for choosing the fried rice over steamed.  After all, a delectable Japanese-style fried rice is part of the dining experience in such establishments.  Yet, here I was charged for something that should have been included in the already hefty price.  On top of that, the portion I received was far from adequate considering I was charged for the privilege.  Ursula’s filet Mignon was passable, even tasty, but the steak portion of my steak and shrimp combination was unforgivably chewy.


Don’t stop here thinking it got any better.  As Ron Popeil used to say, “But wait, there’s more!”


So, here we are, well into our third hour at Hayashi, finally getting served our main course, and . . . where the heck are the two de rigueur teppan-style dipping sauces — one of soy and ginger, the other mustard based?  And when asked, our waiter had the effrontery to ask, “Which would you like?”  No, I’m not kidding.


The answer that night was the mustard.  In the future, the answer will be neither.  Instead, we’ll be going to the vastly superior West Side restaurant Koze Teppan Grill, which I will review Friday.




Filed under Opinion Piece, Wine & Food