Monday, March 29, 2010

Kabuki – Eden Prairie, MN

My friend Charo and her mother were coming into town to do some shopping (yes, the Mall of America, where everyone from out of town goes when they come to Minneapolis). They wanted to do dinner with me and I obviously obliged. I tried to offer up a couple of places to see what might sound good, but Charo assured me her mother was a picky eater so she would do the research and pick a place to eat. Even better – less stress on me to find something for everyone, right?

I got a call from Charo the day before they were to arrive and she said she’d picked a place – Kabuki in Eden Prairie. I had been here before with some former co-workers so I knew it was a Japanese sushi restaurant with a Teppenyaki area. I told her I don’t eat sushi, but I know there are other things I’ve eaten there and had really good luck with in the past. She said it was alright, since she was vegan now and she’d be able to eat something there as well. “Oh…. You’re vegan now? When did this happen?” I asked. “Yesterday,” was the answer. Nothing I could do about it, other than show up where I was supposed to and enjoy dinner with two awesome people.

We showed up at the same time and the place was almost full. We waited around for a table and kind of had to flag someone down to wait on us, since no one seemed to know we were there – despite standing obviously in the entrance by ourselves. We got menus and set about trying to decide what to order. I didn’t see anything remotely vegan on the menu, but Charo assured me they could stir fry some veggies and tofu back in the kitchen. …Which sounded plausible until the waitress came to take our order and told her “no”. The waitress even went back into the kitchen to ask the cooks if they could stir fry some veggies and tofu, and they also said “no”. Apparently, this wasn’t going to happen for Miss Vegan-For-A-Day. She perused the menu further just to be on the safe side, but still ended up ordering a bowl of steamed rice.

Charo’s mother ended up ordering a soft-shelled crab (deep-fried) appetizer and an order of egg rolls. And since I was starving, I ordered a serious meal, despite Charo only eating a bowl of rice – hey I don’t hold back when Coach complains about not being able to find anything on a menu because he’s too picky either – that’s pretty easy for me to get over. I had recently seen the Quentin Tarantino film Sukiyaki Western Django, and decided I was going to live on the edge and order Sukiyaki (beef instead of chicken).

We waited for quite a while for any of our food to come out. My meal came with a small salad with ginger dressing. I offered it numerous times to Charo, but she wasn’t a fan of the ginger dressing (which was really good, by the way). So I ate my salad by myself and listened to (and helped) Charo’s mother give Charo a bunch of crap for turning Vegan. (For the record, I don’t have any issue with Veganism – I just couldn’t do it myself. I like flavor.) Her mother even said, “I wondered why you got Silk instead of real milk and a bunch of vegan things. Wait, didn’t I cook you shrimp this week?” hahahahahaha. Classic comedy – her mother is hilarious. Then she said, “Charo, do something VEGAN!”. Sure it was embarrassing for a third of the people at the table, but the other two-thirds were having a great time!

The waitress finally brought out the egg rolls and crab appetizers for Charo’s mother and my giant plate of food.

I had a quick bite of the egg roll and it was decent (yes, she offered it to me, I didn’t steal it – I DO have tact from time to time). Pretty standard fried egg roll with pork, veggies, and what Kabuki calls “special spices”. A good appetizer, but I don’t think I’d drive to Eden Prairie especially for one.

Since I’ve never ordered Sukiyaki before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was pretty pleased with my meal. It’s a large cast iron skillet with a beefy broth in it. The meal itself is strips of cooked rib-eye steak, with vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, onions, bamboo shoots, etc), tofu, and noodles. This is the kind of dish you have to eat with chopsticks (like in the ninja movies), so I did so (but it didn’t seem to impress either Charo or her mother, sadly). The noodles were cooked perfectly, as were most of the vegetables. I even ate a couple of mushroom (even though I don’t like them) – I’m sure they were fine and non-offensive to those that like them. The tofu was as good as tofu can be (since it was soaked in beef broth – hahaha) and wasn’t so rubbery that it chewed like an eraser. The rib-eye was the best part of the dish and not just because I’m a carnivore. It actually was quite tender and tasty.

While I’m not going to be a huge fan of Sukiyaki, I did really enjoy this meal. It wasn’t disappointing at all, and I’m glad I got it. I am glad I’m not limited on my menu options at Japanese places (unless they’re entirely sushi), so this is another one to put on the list when I need a lot of food in one sitting. I did also manage to slurp Sukiyaki juice onto my dress shirt – par for the course when I use chopsticks. Oh well… My own fault.

Kabuki as a whole gets a middle-of-the-road score for food and slightly lower for service/flexibility/wait times.

Top 5 things about Kabuki
1. Beef Sukiyaki
2. They have a bar with more than just beer and wine
3. There are things for non-sushi-eaters to order
4. Eating dinner with Charo and her mother was an absolute blast
5. Sometimes a simple iceberg lettuce salad with ginger dressing is enough to stop your stomach from growling

Bottom 5 things
1. Are unable to stir fry tofu and vegetables to accommodate vegans
2. Serious wait times to be seated and to get food
3. Parking isn’t the greatest here, even with a large lower lot behind the building
4. I genuinely felt bad watching Charo eat a bowl of rice for dinner, however, my food was delicious
5. I am generally unable to eat without slopping food onto my clothing – this was no different

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