In a sun-scorched metal chair on the Yokozuna Teriyaki patio, I finished the last glugs off a Sapporo and watched patrons enter and exit the joint's double doors. A fluffy-haired high school kid parked a minivan, shuffled inside then quickly emerged with two towering take-out bags. Hot on his heels, a 20-something girl in a flowery dress entered and soon exited sucking down a bright pink bubble tea. Catering to the take-out troops over the lingering legions, Yokozuna Teriyaki is more about grabbing a speedy bite than it is a cuddly date destination.
Inside the heavily air conditioned space, wrap-around high tables and an array of smaller four-tops were mostly empty. In one corner, a couple of bulky dudes sat glued to a TV loudly buzzing with the chatter of sports commentators. At the main counter, a bored employee tapped her fingers to "The Joker" while I scanned the large, orange and yellow menu. Comprised mostly, like the name suggests, of teriyaki dishes, the menu also offers some variations like sushi and gyoza. Appetizing and not-so-appetizing photos of pork tonkatsu ($6.45), tempura prawns ($7.45, for four) and chicken yakisoba ($5.75) plaster the adjacent wall, whispering promises of what the open kitchen is capable of.
After ordering, I settled into a heavy chair by the wall and listened to the rattling buzz of soda machines as I cracked open a plastic tray of prepared Sugar Daddy sushi ($4.50). Though the eight-piece roll oozed a spicy looking Sriracha aioli, the mushy tempura shrimp and ample avocado whisked away any lingering flavor. Before I'd put away two pieces of the shoulder-shruggable sushi, the counter lady slid a bowl of lightly fried age dashi tofu ($4.95) mellowing in a pool of light brown broth and a steaming helping of salmon teriyaki ($7.95) in front of me. While the six cubed hunks of fried tofu topped with minced ginger were obviously cooked to order, the accompanying broth lacked any sort of discernable pop. I squirted out a few streams of soy, whirled the ginger around, then let the tofu marinate while I tore into the salmon teriyaki. The dish was charmingly healthy-looking--like the glossy photo on a Lean Cuisine box--but fortunately tasted nothing like a frozen TV dinner. The surprisingly large and lean salmon fillet came topped with a light salty-sweet glaze, black and white sesame seeds and deep grill marks that looked too artfully done to have come solely from the fish's brief time on the grill. A skimpy handful of steamed broccoli, carrots and yellow squash rested atop a hill of bouncy white rice and offered a crunchy snap paired with the flaky salmon.
Though fatty sauces or oily marinades didn't weigh down the meal, I was only able to finish about a third of what I ordered. Luckily, the heavy to-go box that glistened before me as I finished my beer on the restaurant's front patio would be revisited later that evening as an after-bar snack. With plenty of spices and sauces at home to church up the ample pile of salmon and still moist rice, my guy and I finally did Yokozuna Teriyaki the right way--cozied up with a movie.
--Tara Morgan calls "Oh, Yokozuna" in the middle of the night.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Click here to read what BW's other reviewer had to say about Yokozuna Teriyaki.