You Get What You Pay For At Shogun 3

sushi

Shogun 3 Japanese Steakhouse in Havertown has a few things going for it: it’s cheap, its dishes are artfully arranged, and for the price, most of the food is pretty good.  But along with the inexpensive meal came a few aspects of the dining experience that might keep me from going back.

Shogun and its Menu

Shogun, located in the Manoa Shopping Center, has been serving up Japanese and Chinese cuisine since 2004. The BYOB restaurant has three separate dining areas, depending on the type of food you’ll be eating: a sushi bar, a Chinese restaurant, and a hibachi room. Shogun requires that at least two people order hibachi in order to be seated in the hibachi area (where the chef prepares your meal in front of you, entertainer-style), though you can still order hibachi if you sit in another area of the restaurant.

When we arrived at 5:15 on a Tuesday, there were already several tables seated and eating. Mondays and Tuesdays are busier days for Shogun, since the restaurant offers many of its sushi rolls for half price. A waitress seated us in the non-hibachi area of the restaurant and (eventually) brought us menus to peruse, along with water glasses that were consistently refilled throughout the meal.

Shogun’s menu is extensive; it not only contains many different types of teriyaki, tempura, hibachi, and sushi entrees, but also different combinations of items such that you’re sure to find something to your liking.  Appetizers include everything from steamed edamame ($3), to almond chicken ($6) to sushi ($5-8). Most entrees come with soup, salad and rice in addition to the main meal, so even without ordering an appetizer, you’re likely to go home satisfied.

We ordered a variety of dishes so as to get a well-rounded view of the restaurant. We decided on gyoza as an appetizer ($6), hibachi chicken ($14), salmon teriyaki dinner bento ($17), and the “sushi regular” ($15).

Our Meal

Almost immediately after ordering, our soups and salads were brought out to us. The hibachi chicken and sushi both came with a flavorful, savory miso soup we quickly slurped up, while the chicken came with a broth-based “hibachi soup” with onions and mushrooms, which was also good. The salads consisted of the typical Japanese restaurant salad—iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and a ginger-based dressing.

Our appetizer came out before we’d finished our soup. The menu described gyoza as “pan-fried oriental dumpling,” or potstickers. The appetizer came with six dumplings, which despite their description appeared to be only boiled rather than pan-fried. The taste was good, but very mild, and not something I’d necessarily order again.

The best part of our meal was the entrees. The hibachi chicken came with a generous serving of simple-but-tasty fried rice, a few shrimp, and grilled vegetables. The chicken itself was a bit dry and lacking in flavor, but the two sauces served alongside it helped to mask that fact. The star of the show was, surprisingly, the fried rice. Despite (or perhaps due to) a seemingly simple preparation of finely minced onions and soy sauce, the flavor was terrific.

The salmon teriyaki bento was also a winner. Besides a serving of salmon teriyaki, the dish contained tonkatsu (battered and fried pork), several pieces of sashimi, a few vegetables and fresh fruit. The salmon was rich and buttery and paired perfectly with Shogun’s teriyaki sauce; it was my favorite part of the meal. Like the chicken, the tonkatsu was a little dry and lacking in flavor, but was good when paired with the tonkatsu sauce.

We were a little disappointed in the variety of sushi that arrived in our “sushi regular.” The menu described the dish as “8 pieces of assorted sushi and a tuna roll,” and so we had hoped for something a little more exciting than the basic tuna, salmon and shrimp nigiri. The plate was beautifully presented, which I suppose may have been more difficult to achieve had the chef included any “special” rolls. The sushi itself was good, but nothing unusual, and for the price, we didn’t expect perfection.

To round out our meal, we decided to get a taste of a Shogun dessert, and—since we’d been hoping for sushi that was a little more exciting—we wanted to order a special sushi roll, too.  We decided on the green tea mochi ice cream ($6) and also ordered a dragon roll ($9, $5 on Mondays and Tuesdays).

Our dessert arrived about five minutes later, along with our check, with no dragon roll in sight. We dug in anyway. Mochi ice cream is a Japanese dessert made from an outer layer of pounded rice (mochi) and an inner layer of ice cream. Our dessert consisted of four golfball-sized pieces, two large dollops of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. It was a nice, light ending to our meal.

Or, it would have been—except that after we’d finished the dessert, the dragon roll—which contains eel, cucumber and tobiko wrapped in avocado—finally arrived. Of the sushi we tried, this was my favorite; it had a nice blend of varying textures, from the creamy avocado to the crunchy tobiko, and a recognizable eel flavor. I still wasn’t blown away, but I would probably order the dragon roll again if I came back.

This is the point when our meal took a turn. We were understandably stuffed by the end of dinner, even though we’d asked for “to go” boxes and placed about half of our sushi and part of our entrees inside. Despite having already signed the check, our waitress came over to our table and instead of speaking to us, leaned over the table to peer at our takeout boxes, looking concerned.

She told us we would need to pay full price for our sushi because we weren’t eating it in house. I tried to explain that we hadn’t ordered full rolls to take home; we’d eaten as much as we could of our meals already and were taking the leftovers. Nonetheless, she left to get the manager, who came over to our table and asked what the problem was. After I explained our conversation with the waitress, the manager told us that normally we would need to pay full price for any sushi we took with us, but since we had already paid, he’d let us go.

While we were allowed to “escape” with our leftovers, it seems strange that nowhere on Shogun’s menu (at least that we saw) does it mention this no leftovers policy, nor was the policy mentioned to us when we ordered the sushi.

The Verdict

Aside from the leftovers incident and the dragon roll timing, the service was fine–the waitress frequently checked on us throughout the meal, removed plates and filled our waterglasses. The waitstaff was not overly personable, which did affect the atmosphere, but of course is not something absolutely integral to the restaurant experience.

It seems like Shogun is a classic case of “you get what you pay for”—which isn’t necessarily a slam on the restaurant. We did enjoy our meal, but its quality, and our service, reflected the prices we paid. Since the atmosphere is somewhat lacking, I would not recommend Shogun as a date spot. However, if you’re looking for a restaurant where you can catch a cheap bite with friends, give Shogun a shot on a Monday or Tuesday for half-price sushi, or the slightly more expensive, but still reasonably-priced salmon teriyaki or chicken hibachi.

Shogun 3 Japanese Steakhouse is located at 1375 West Chester Pike in the Manoa Shopping Center, Havertown. It’s open for lunch Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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