13 October 2008

Tokyo Diner - Harrisburg

Overall Rating: Good but Weird
Highlight: A Vegetarian Chef's Special Roll
Lowlight: Ambiance Not So Hot
Veggie Note: Appearances can be deceiving I guess, but what a treat to have a special roll that was totally vegetarian and right off the menu

Still on a quest for good vegetarian sushi, and this time looking for a place with a hibachi grill for a friend as well (meat eaters - go figure).

Tokyo Diner has multiple locations in the Harrisburg (Central PA) region. They have both a sushi menu, hibachi menu and a few other assorted things. The location we went to, Londonderry Rd in Harrisburg, came across as sort of a dive when we pulled up. It was a little disconcerting and we had some doubts about what we were about to eat. The waitress really struggled with English (we tried to order a Dr. Pepper and she looked at us like we were crazy, I told her it was a kind of soda and she stared right through me like a window pane - we settled for coke, which she knew). FYI - the iced tea was iced green tea, which was good, but not listed that way on the menu, just one of a few Tokyo Diner surprises. The booth we sat in had broken benches and the inside decor wasn't too much nicer than the outside appearances.

We had the following:

  • Cucumber Salad - There was no indication on the menu of this one, so we were surprised when it came. None of us really ate it because it came with pieces of crab meat mixed in. I picked out a few pieces of cucumber just to try it. It mostly tasted like vinegar, there were a few sesame seeds mixed in. Nothing special as far as we could tell.
  • Edemame - These were fine, needed added salt. They were strangely served upside down (in the shell waste bowl with a plate on top) It kind of gave you the idea that the waitress never had to serve this dish before.
Entrees (what we created anyway):
  • Tamago Sushi - tasted fine, the egg looked a little pale
  • Inari Sushi - pretty standard, good
  • Oshinko Sushi - we custom ordered this, it was listed as a roll option, but to avoid excess seaweed (for those opposed to that sort of thing) we requested it presented as two pieces of sushi instead and they were fine to accommodate that.
  • Chef's Special Green Roll - Here was the treat of the evening. It's very rare to find a chef's special roll on the menu that is entirely vegetarian. This was a spinach roll (also something rare) wrapped in thinly sliced avocado (like a dragon roll) and no seaweed! It was very tasty. Everyone at the table tried it and liked it a lot.
  • Futo Maki Roll - my non-vegetarian weakness kicking in again (this one has crab in it). I do like a good futo maki roll. This one was okay. I have to mention that I ordered a side of spicy mayonnaise. This was one of the best spicy mayonnaise concoctions I have ever had. Instead of the standard smooth and creamy dip, this was chunky with the bits of hot pepper that was also in the hot sauce they served with the hibachi dishes. It was clearly mixed up by hand and was super spicy. Yum!
  • Steak Hibachi - With just onions and broccoli (it was a little too much for our meat eatin' friend - but probably not too much for someone who really loves broccoli - it was good broccoli). It turns out they also put onions in the fried rice so there was also an abundance of onions. The fried rice was really good and the steak was "full of flavor and so tender that it melted in your mouth." That's a meatatarian quote if I have ever seen one. Some other nonsense about no fatty deposits, blah blah gross whatever. There was a desperate attempt made to order it prepared spicy, the waitress said she would bring a side of hot sauce, which ended up needing to be two sides of hot sauce by the time the dish was done. Oh - and this dish was supposed to come with either soup and a salad. The default soup was clear soup, not miso, and the waitress totally forgot to serve it until after she brought the entrees and we reminded her.

Just a few other notes:

I think I added all of my thoughts throughout this time. None of us noticed a bar here (we weren't really looking) but I'm pretty sure it's alcohol free there.

Final Thoughts: So in the end I have to preach the old adage "don't judge a book by it's cover." I wouldn't bring a first date here or encourage a fine dinner here before prom, but the food turned out to be pretty good. There were still no vegetarian specific "entrees" but there was plenty to choose from anyway and we had a good time trying that green roll.

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