“Jūnin toiro.” – Japanese proverb
When my ladyfriend asked where I would like to go for my long-awaited birthday dinner, this year I had only one place in mind: Mr. Tacos in Tulsa.
However, when that idea was ruefully shot down, I told her my second choice: Shogun Steak House of Japan, 11900 N. May Ave., in Northpark Mall. It’s a restaurant that I feel is a lot of people’s second choice in the OKC Japanese steak house scene, which made it all the more appealing to me and my tastebuds.
I haven’t set foot in Shogun for well over twenty years, the last time was for a failed date back when I was a sullen teen in high school. Walking into the Japanese restaurant now, I kind of felt like that kid once again, mostly due to the ageless décor of an era long past—the nineteen-nineties.
“More like the nineteen-eighties,” my ladyfriend caustically replied.
Whatever decade it was, it was alright with me because I treasure these lost eateries from that short-lived epoch when we were youthful royalty and this city was our forbidden kingdom. Through the entrance of the once-lively mall and on into the restaurant with its spa-trinkets that gave it a beautifully kitsch-filled taste of an imagined Japan, one apparently needs reservations, which we didn’t have.
After an hour wait—some of which was spent in their dated bar filled with spinning office chairs—we were eventually taken to our table, a large flat grill made of heated metal that was warmed up as we enjoyed the first two courses of our meal, a clear soup that tasted like beef bouillon with bits of fried onions floating about and an Oklahoma-approved iceberg salad with, for an Asian flair, a sesame dressing.
Truly enjoying them both, I decided that for this 42nd birthday celebration I wanted to try the Imperial Emperor ($24.95), an “Emperor’s Cut” of Filet Mignon. While the table next to us seemed to get a thoroughly peppy chef that popped pieces of shrimp into the mouths of his guests, our chef was a dour cook who did none of that as he prepared our meals without any forced panache.
(But, to be fair, he did do that trick where he set an onion on fire, which was, admittedly, mesmerizing to watch.)
Our chef frowned through his facemask as he sliced and diced my large portion of premium meat into cubes, delivering tender cuts of prime beef that melted like butter in my gaping mouth, served over a warm bed of zippy hibachi vegetables and a few shrimp. The only real problem with this meal was that our waiter forgot to bring us our bowls of white rice, which, when reminded, he did near the end of our meal when it was really no longer necessary.
Able to finish half of my empirical meal, I pushed the plate away as I settled back with a “traditional” scoop of green tea ice cream, a delicious replacement for the staid birthday cake. Behind me was a slow-flowing trough of water that was filled with old chopsticks, bits of food and other refuse.
“Does this have to be your birthday meal?” my ladyfriend asked. Cómpralo ya!
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