New Japanese steakhouse opens in west Lawrence

photo by: Photo Courtesy: Tokyo Steakhouse

A chef prepares food on one of the four hibachi grills at the new Tokyo Steakhouse at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive.

To me, “yum-yum sauce” is the phrase I use when Thanksgiving meat sweats prevent me from remembering the word “gravy.” Come to find out, there is a whole different meaning, and a new Japanese steakhouse in Lawrence aims to give diners a taste of it.

As I briefly mentioned earlier this month, Tokyo Steakhouse has signed a deal to locate in the shopping center at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive. Well, the Japanese restaurant now has opened.

Owner Leo Zhu has spent the past three months remodeling the former location of Kokoro Steakhouse and Under the Sea sushi restaurant at 601 Kasold Drive. The remodel included new flooring, new wall coverings, new tables and chairs, new restrooms, and perhaps most importantly, four new hibachi grills.

The hibachi table grills have seating for a total of 36 people. Yes, it is one of those arrangements where you sit around the grill and a chef does an elaborate presentation of chopping, stirring and twirling that eventually ends with a shrimp being flipped in your mouth. Such routines are great fun around a hibachi table, but evidently are frowned upon at a Thanksgiving one. (In my defense, I thought for sure the drumstick would fit in his mouth.)

The hibachi is also where the yum-yum sauce comes into play.

“My favorite is the filet mignon with yum-yum sauce,” Zhu said. “Not everybody serves the yum-yum sauce.”

What is a yum-yum sauce? I don’t know, other than Zhu said it is white and “makes everything taste better.” Mr. Google, though, tells me it is a mayonnaise-based sauce, with a hint of tomato paste and several sweet and savory spices.

The steakhouse’s hibachi menu features several types of meat and seafood to choose from. The menu includes a couple of cuts of steak, chicken, shrimp, lobster, salmon, scallops, and calamari. The menu includes single meat dishes or combination platters, with prices ranging from about $14 for the poor soul who would order chicken at a steakhouse to about $30 for a filet mignon and lobster combo.

The restaurant also features a sushi bar. That menu includes about 20 different sushi rolls. Zhu says the house specialty is the Jayhawk roll, which includes tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, and a crunchy top of snow crab, wasabi, tobiko, and eel.

Japanese desserts also make an appearance on the menu. They include several flavors of mochi, which is a Japanese rice cake that is beaten into a paste and molded into various shapes. Flavors include vanilla, peach, mango and green tea. There also is something called tempura ice cream. While tempura usually involves deep frying seafood, this seems to involve ice cream balls wrapped in cake, dipped in batter and fried. (Investment tip: Buy stock in the maker of my cholesterol medicine.)

Zhu comes to Lawrence with a good amount of restaurant experience. For the last seven years he has owned the China Pavilion restaurant in Topeka, which serves a more traditional set of Chinese dishes.

Zhu said he decided to open the Lawrence restaurant when a friend alerted him to the space becoming available after Under the Sea closed.

“I thought it had good possibilities,” Zhu said. “All the equipment was just so old. It just needed a remodel.”

And more yum-yum sauce.


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