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Tepanyaki Steak House


When I told the Spawn we were going to a Japanese steak house they were excited. When they realized they wouldn't be eating any sushi—yes, we've trained them to eat stuff that most boring steak and tater adults won't—they threw a little snit fit. But it was only a little one. They were reluctant to try something new, slow to really "accept" this family style, sit-around-the-pancake-grill kind of place. But we've only steered them wrong a couple times.

Immediately attracted to the sound of running water, they wanted to splash in the pond. Some stern looks and warning sounds by Pop put them back in line and in their seats. Who was this guy in the funny hat bringing out a tray full of stuff? What is he doing? What is he putting on the grill? Why is he lighting that match? It's hot already. POOOFFF! A huge ball of flames shoots up into the ventilation hood and the Spawn almost fall over backwards in their chairs trying to escape the heat. From then on, it was all smiles and excitement. What was going to happen next?

Perched in the no-man's land between the Boise River and the Connector—not quite Main Street, but not yet Fairview Avenue—sits Tepanyaki Japanese Steak House. We've driven by it many times. It wasn't very busy when we went, but if it had been, you'd never know it, since the parking in the back provides plenty of space for plenty of cars.

Before sushi made its crazy fad-like invasion of the American heartland, most Americans were familiar with the Benny Hana style grill with the knife and spatula juggling, the food tossing and the traditional onion volcano. This is classic style Japanese grill stuff—great for the Spawn and fun for adults, too.

We passed on the kids menu and ordered two combos for the three of us, a steak-chicken and a shrimp-scallop. Onion soup and a small salad started the meal. Fried rice prepared on the grill with eggs spun like a top and tossed in the air added to the entertainment. Drum like percussion of the two-pronged fork and big metal spatula let you know our chef was cooking up a storm. The spice can made a nice rattle, and when tossed into the top of his hat, it made the kiddos grin. Traditional ketchup and mustard bottles held a variety of sauces and when the chef reached across the table to squirt the boy Spawn with one, a shriek followed by laughter erupted as he realized it was a fake bottle with a red string.

Good quality steak, chicken, shrimp and scallops, a big helping of fresh vegetables and fried rice, all at a reasonable price for a night out with the family.

--Bingo Barnes is in training to be an urban food ninja.