Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Japanese Grill – Lenoir City Tennessee

We’d been watching with some interest as a local restaurant was transformed into its 3rd or 4th iteration since we moved to East Tennessee.  So, when asked if we’d like to dine with a couple of friends to give this new eatery a try, we jumped at the chance!

This is the exterior of Tako Yaki in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Laurie and I had eaten in this building 2 or 3 times previously, when it served Italian cuisine and pizza and when it was a basic American grill type of operation. 
We are continually surprised at our impression that there are more restaurants serving sushi in the greater Knoxville area…than there are basic Chinese restaurants.  There even seems to be as many Japanese and Thai restaurants as there are Chinese dining spots.  There are now 3 Japanese restaurants in Lenoir City… 

This is a photo of the grill area inside the Tako Yaki Restaurant. The restaurant was not inexpensive to retrofit!  Walls came down and 3 or 4 of these grills were installed on one side of the restaurant.  On the other side of the dining area, seating is similar to most restaurants and the food is delivered to the customer.  The grill area is the ‘performance’ side of the operation!

The photo is a little dark but our waitress started us out with this salad and a chicken broth with rice soup.  Laurie liked both items but I thought that the soup was too bland.  Our friends liked the salad & soup as well.
OK…to be honest, I would normally never dine in the ‘entertainment side’ or grill area of a Japanese restaurant.  First of all, I came with the people I wanted to share the dining experience with…and I’m not looking to sit down with strangers.  Secondly, the menu choices are too limited.  Third, the ‘entertainment’ provided by the grill master doesn’t do much for me.  What I’m admitting is that I’m biased when it comes to this type of dining.
It didn’t help any when we were seated at a grill ‘table’ that wasn’t cleared of dirty dishes on the other side of the grill.  Plus, our friend had to grab forks for us. 

Here is our grill master at work…preparing the fried rice portion of the meal.  Fortunately, the people that joined us at the grill were OK and the grill master spent much of his time entertaining the young lady in the photo.

In this photo, the grill master has finished and served the fried rice and he’s started the mixed vegetables and the fried noodles.  My vegetables are under the bowl on the grill as I opted out of the mushrooms with my serving. 

Laurie and I really like sushi and sashimi!  We couldn’t properly dine at Tako Yaki without at least trying an appetizer from the sushi bar.  We ordered the Tuna Tataki…seared tuna with ponzu sauce. ($8.95) The presentation was very nice but I thought that the tuna slices were just a bit thin…lacking texture.  Laurie thought they were a bit thick & would of preferred them to be more of a sashimi thickness but she enjoyed the dish.  The ponzu sauce and veggies on the platter ‘made’ this dish!  Another problem was that this was our appetizer…and when we were well into our fried rice our waitress told us that the sushi chef was backed up but she hadn’t forgotten us.  We had our fried noodles and veggies before we got our appetizer…
FYI…Ponzu shōyu or ponzu jōyu is ponzu sauce with soy sauce (shōyu) added.  The mixed product is widely referred to as simply ponzu.  Ponzu is made by simmering mirin, rice vinegar, katsuobushi flakes, (from tuna), and seaweed, (kombu), over medium heat.  The liquid is cooled then strained to remove the katsuobushi flakes, and finally the juice of one or more of the following citrus fruits is added: yuzu, sudachi, daidai, kabosu, or lemon.  To learn what all these fruits are, you can go to and click on each of them as shown in the text.

Other than flipping his grill tools around, one of our grill master’s tricks was creating a ‘volcano’ using those onion rings and some water from the squeeze bottle… I wasn’t particularly entertained, although I have to give him credit for trying.

In this photo, you can see that the grill master is working on the protein portion of our meal…chicken, shrimp and salmon. 
Single item grill entrees included vegetarian, scallops, calamari, salmon, sirloin steak, filet mignon, chicken and lobster.  Prices ranged from $11.95 for the vegetarian offering on up to $26.95 for the lobsters.

OK…the photo isn’t pretty.  This is Laurie’s Shrimp Teriyaki with the fried rice, fried noodles, vegetables and the shrimp. ($15.95)  The reason the plate is so messy is that first the grill master served the fried rice, then the fried noodles and the vegetables…and then came the protein/shrimp.  Much of the fried rice and the other sides had been eaten by the time we received our meat course… It’s another reason I’m not crazy about this style of dining.  The shrimp lacked flavor & were a bit on the small side.  Our friends agreed.

This is a photo of my Teriyaki Salmon. ($15.95) The filets were OK.  I really liked the veggies and the fried noodles.  The fried rice was extremely bland and it was only saved when the grill master offered some teriyaki sauce which he liberally applied.  The sauce also boosted the flavor of the noodles…
As I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of this type of dining.  I do believe that my wife agrees with me to a point…it wasn’t worth the $52 and change we spent for dinner & she agrees with me on that point.  We are glad we tried it and that we were able to do so with friends.  I have read several commentaries that give Tako Yaki positive feedback…crediting both the food and the entertainment provided by the grill masters.  They must be doing something right as this is their second restaurant in East Tennessee! 
Tako Yaki is close to I-75 on US Highway 321 in Lenoir City Tennessee.  The formal address is 175 Kelsey Lane…but the restaurant faces Hwy 321.  Phone: 865-986-3332.  They are on Facebook at  Don’t listen to me… Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to see what Laurie and I have been up to!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


1 comment:

  1. Dear Dave, I try to be neutral, but $52.00 and you did not get all of your meal at once! I hope the place at least gave you a dessert on the house!
    I think for $52.00 the meal should be served on time not in stages.
    I just think of how much you could get at the store for that money. With the way things are these days restaurants should be very grateful you are going and be very attentive and caring in how they serve your meal. Especially, the dirty dishes...they should have never seated you until everything was in order.
    I should not go on and on...anyway, I hope all is well with you and Laurie and blessings, Catherine