The vacant Lonestar building in Barboursville beside the Cracker Barrel on Route 60 is vacant no more. All the peanut shells are gone and have been replaced with a shiny coat of polish over the hard wood floors. Other changes were made to the interior decor to turn a Texas steakhouse into the Japanese version. The restaurant is filled with hibachi grills surrounded by chairs in the main dining room and an adjacent room. The main dining room also boasts a small sushi bar and a larger drink bar. Tables are positioned around both bars. One of the tables near the sushi bar was our home base to experience Shogun on just their second evening of dinner service.
Lucky for us, our server appeared to be an owner. A pretty Chinese woman, she owns other restaurants and property throughout West Virginia. Ironic that she owns a couple Japanese steakhouses – this one and a Shogun in Clarksburg. She provided great service while remaining personable and friendly. I noticed a much higher percentage of caucasian waitstaff than I expected. Not that it really matters, it’s just unusual based on my experience. At an ethnic restaurant, if the employees aren’t of that culture, do you feel your food may not be authentic? Is it really authentic anyway?
The menu consists of Hibachi meals, sushi, a few soups, and a few starters. I was greatly disappointed that I was not permitted to order a Bento box for dinner – lunch only. Another item off-limits at the dinner hour: noodle bowls. I hope management will reconsider that decision. The Bento box is like a sampler plate and if you don’t want to sit at the Hibachi grill with a bunch of strangers and have food hurled at you, it is a great option for a hot meal. I chose to sit in the bar area because I do not find the idea of catching flying shrimp in my mouth appealing whatsoever. It’s sort of like Disney for me – one time and I never need to go back again.
Ron and I took the order & share approach. We started with a couple beers. Beer lovin’ readers will be glad to know Ron did NOT get Bud Light! He chose Tsingtao, the best-selling Chinese beer. I decided to utilize the “When in Rome” approach. In this case it was “When in Japan”…so I enjoyed a Sapporo. Each beer was $3.25. The tall silver Sapporo can is more, of course.
The food we ordered began coming out in a steady flow, one after another. The timing was great. First, we received the salad and soup that comes with the hibachi meal. Even though we weren’t seated at a grill, we were still able to order a hibachi meal. I liked that. We had a choice of house dressing or ginger dressing. I should have asked what house dressing was because I thought it would be the ginger. The salad was small. It consisted of iceberg lettuce, 2 half moons of cucumber, a few carrot threads (fancy-looking thin strands of carrot – I want to know what tool I need to make them at home), and watery ginger dressing. The dressing had a good flavor, but the texture was just too watery. The cup of soup had a nice flavor with a floating mushroom slice and a few bits of scallion as the only decoration to the broth.
Folks, don’t make the same mistake I did at another hibachi place, Taste of Asia II. Ron and I ordered a hibachi for two meal and Hannah was going to just eat off our plates since she doesn’t really care for that type of food. I misunderstood the server when she asked for Hannah’s order and I said we were sharing. She thought that meant we wanted the salad-soup-rice for Hannah which cost me about six bucks. The itsy bitsy teeney weeney salad and soup along with a bowl of rice is not worth an extra $6. Especially if you are sharing with a young ‘un. Same deal here: $5.95 to get an extra salad-soup-rice. I wouldn’t do it if I were you.
Back to the meal at hand. After the soup and salad, the spicy tuna roll ($4.95) was delivered. My first impression of the sushi: a little messy. By that, I don’t mean ingredients were strewn all over the plate. As you can see from the photo, they look fine. I mean the roll wasn’t as tight, presentation not as clean, attention to detail not at the same level of sushi I’ve received at other restaurants. The taste was fine, but I did not get “spicy” from it at all. The plate was garnished with strands of white carrot. We were not given any chopsticks so I used my fingers, which is a perfectly acceptable method of eating sushi.
As we popped the last piece of sushi into our mouths, the tempura arrived. The plate displayed three shrimp, 2 large carrot slices and a broccoli floret. The tempura was coated in batter and panko before frying which resulted in a very crispy product. I greatly enjoyed the tempura and the price of only $5.95 made me like it even more.
The entree was presented on a large ceramic plate with a bowl of rice sitting on the plate. Ron ordered Hibachi chicken and squid. Upon review of the plate, Ron and I didn’t see any squid. I did, however, spot a shrimp which I quickly gobbled up before Ron noticed and tried to claim it. Turns out there was a second one which he did see. I was looking for rings of squid. That was my error. When Ron questioned our server, she pointed out the pieces that looked like onions. Oh….yeah….there’s the squid! Ok, so we looked like a couple of hilljack idiots, but our server made a joke with us and we felt better. Besides, Ron is used to it.
The meal had the expected teriyaki type flavor. Problem was: it was cold. We could have sent it back, but chose not to. It was pretty late in the evening and I wanted to get back home and crawl under a pile of blankets. The rice, which was actually hot, was spiced with black pepper. A surprise to me, I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. Upon further reflection, I am going to say “not”. Veggies included zucchini, carrot, mushroom and onion. The chicken was tender. For $17.55, I thought it was a bit overpriced, but the clanking knives and hurling shrimp are a show you pay for in the price of the meal whether you enjoy it or not.
Overall, the food tasted good, prices were reasonable and our service prompt and friendly. You would have never known it was only their second night. Unfortunately on one of the coldest nights of the year, their heater was on the fritz so I ate my meal while wearing my coat. I drew the line with my gloves and powered through with bare hands. If you are in the area and feel like some Japanese fare, consider this THREE FORK newcomer.
THREE FORKS ….. BUT…………………………..
is that enough periods for you? …. there’s a few more for *hits and giggles
I say “But” because there’s always a “But”, and I’m starting to think that every patron that frequents a Japanese Steakhouse is the “Butt” of all Japanese jokes.
First let me explain my “Three Fork” rating, not that I need to but because I want to. After all it’s a NEW AMERICA, and I’m trying to “CHANGE”. Just kidding, I’m not. But, I give Shogun Three Forks because it was just their second day of being open. I thought the place was clean. I thought my food was average (for a Japanese Steakhouse), and the service was so so. The damn heater didn’t work, so we both had to wear our North Face and Carhartt gear to have a comfortable meal.
But all in all it was average so I give it Three Forks, and it gets it because Shogun is new. If this was any other establishment, heck from now on this is where the bar is set for all Japanese Steakhouses, but from now on…. this is a TWO or a ONE.
I say this is the new benchmark, well the bar is set very low or high depending on your sport ( limbo or hi-Jump respectively).
We did not sit at the Hibachi grill, however we were able to order off the Hibachi menu. But I want to know where does one learn the skills to chop meat like these places do? Where does one learn to catch an egg in their chef’s hat? I know how to cause a flame up with water and grease, that’s no problem. I routinely do that on the grill here at the house all the time, but that is like the encore that no one chants for more. But where do these guys learn the routine? It’s the same routine I watched when I was a kid. It’s like going to the circus and seeing the same damn tricks performed on the same old elephant. I want the Cirque Du Soleil of Hibachi the next place I eat. I want the egg to be flaming when it is caught in the hat, and then I want that to flame up, too. Where is that Hibachi restaurant, as it sure as hell isn’t in WV.
Seriously, I doubt the meat is Grade A Kobe Beef, or else it wouldn’t be as cheap as it is, besides if it was who the hell would fry it? Come on that’s what you’re getting, fried steak, squeeze it in a waffle iron and slap it on there and it’s called Country Fried Steak, add some gravy and you have Salisbury Steak. It’s all cheap and easy… but I’m supposed to believe that this is quality? I know it’s not, you know it’s not. But Why?
So our meal starts out with Soup and Salad.
Salad – two pieces of lettuce, chopped and tore into ten pieces. The carrots that Susan so needs a tool for were shredded carrots about five, not five shredded carrots but five pieces of shredded carrots – the actual “shred”. These “shreds” were then cut in half and then cut in half again. Supposedly I had cucumbers, but I swear I held mine up to the light and I could see through it. Makes me wonder if it was even there. The dressing tasted like thousand island. I’m not picking on Shogun, because all of these places are like this.
Soup – Is chicken broth considered a Soup? I didn’t think so. What about if I add a slice of mushroom, keep in mind just one slice, is it soup then? What about if I add a few chops – few being three chops – of green onion, thus bringing my total to Chicken Broth + One Slice of Mushroom + 3 chops of green onion. Does that equal soup? All you supposed Chefs out there, when does soup become soup? Well my equation equals soup at Shogun, plus most other Japanese Steakhouses. As far as I’m concerned, by their example I have soup every morning when a grain of coffee makes its way into my morning cup. Mocha Soup, Java Jambalaya…..BULLSHIT. It’s called “jacking me up”.
Sushi was about the best thing on our menu that I had. Susan’s Tempoora (intentional spelling) was pretty good batter wise.
My entree – Chicken and Squid and chopped veggies. It was filling- that’s about it. The innertube tasting thing was the squid. It had no taste whatsoever. NONE. Like chewing on Wrigley’s after the flavor was gone. I even mentioned that to our little Geisha Girl, as I had to ask her what was what. The chicken was ok. Nothing spectacular. The worst part was that my food was cold, or cool. The rice was hot, so I covered everything up with it for a little thermo reaction. Me and Susan suspect this temperature unevenness was caused because at Hibachi you do not get your food all at once, and because we ordered off the Hibachi menu, it all sat back there waiting to be cooked.
Everything was priced good and to be honest it was what I expected. All my complaining is caused by my own questioning of my being and / or sanity. What is it humanity sees in these places? I don’t know either.
These places stink, and I recommend that if you don’t go with a group of drunks or a bunch of kids that like to have food thrown at them and participate in the circus acts, well then don’t waste your time.
I want to add one more thing, so you can get back to work. Taste Of Asia’s new Hibachi place has much the same issues. The difference is the level of professionalism, I actually feel that the ingredients may be a little better, and that they do an overall job of trying to sell what they have instead of simply going through the motions that most of these Hibachis do.
Three Forks for now… read the review I think you can guess how I really feel.Shogun Japanese Steakhouse 3420 US Route 60 E Barboursville, WV 25504 304-733-2917