Wait: It's 7:30 p.m. Monday and this sprawling new Japanese restaurant has a spot for four at a teppan table.
Service: With this style of dining, chefs are the center of attention and servers slip in and out without much fanfare. Flames, flying food, a steady flow of one-liners — who can compete with that?
Our chef is a jokester. He tells us the balding man at the table was too close to the flames on his last visit. Every time he scrapes the burnt remains off the grill he says, “Who wants chocolate?”
While he pulls off some standards — raging fire across the table, onion volcano and knife-spatula dance — he misses the shrimp flick into his pocket and whiffs on his first attempt to flip fried rice into an empty cup.
A little sloppy, but laughter makes up for it.
Meal: Our sushi rolls — spicy tuna and shrimp tempura — are bigger than most but loosely rolled, which makes them fall apart.
We try a bit of everything — the kobe steak, filet mignon, toyama special (New York steak and chicken breast) and seafood combination (shrimp, scallops, lobster tail) — and it's all cooked perfectly, including the extra grill time we request for my pregnant friend.
The kobe steak is the most marbled piece of meat I've ever seen (everything is brought out raw) and very flavorful, you can smell the fat cooking. It's not as tender as the filet, but it's delicious.
The lobster and scallops turn out succulent, but the shrimp is a bit chewy.
Scene: There's a teppan room with six double tables each with room for 16, a classy sushi bar and a long wood bar for boozing and watching two big TVs. Great rice-paperlike sconces and beautiful paintings of formally dressed Japanese women on the glass room separators.
Bathroom break: Spacious and clean.
Tab for four: $180 with tip and tax for spicy tuna roll ($6.25), shrimp tempura roll ($7.25), kobe steak ($39.95), filet mignon ($20.95), toyama special ($22.95), seafood combination ($32.95) and four servings of chicken fried rice ($2 each).
If work weren't buying: I'd suggest Kobe to anyone looking for a fun dinner out.
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
1125 W. Elliot Road, Tempe
Major cross streets: Hardy Drive and Elliot Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; noon to
11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Reservations accepted: Yes
Health report: Three major violations
on Jan. 17
Kid friendly: Yes
Web site: www.kobeteppan.com