Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shogun Restaurant

Sometimes I write about restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley that are more than just restaurants to me. I've lived here almost my entire life - although even the years I didn't, this still felt like home - and my parents have lived here their entire lives. My grandparents all lived here as well. So I was lucky growing up in that I was exposed to many fun places that became indelible parts of my childhood and thus my life.

Some of these places are long gone, but several remain: Taco Lita, Rick's, Hutch's, and a few others. And Shogun would have to be near the top of that list. Ever since I was a kid, Shogun was the place my family went for birthday celebrations or large, special-occasion family dinners. When Elizabeth's sisters were both in town recently, my parents wanted to meet them and offered to take us all out to dinner anywhere we wanted. Since it was the day after Kate's birthday, I suggested Shogun.

When I was a kid my drink was usually Coke or a Shirley Temple, but now I always get a beer. This time I chose Kirin. Dawn ordered a Royal Hawaiian: vodka, raspberry, guava juice, pineapple juice and sweet & sour in a large, hollowed-out pineapple. I didn't try any but it looked impressive.
In the past my standard appetizer has been the gyoza - they do a great job with it. But lately, with my recent adventures to Asian restaurant happy hours, I have been eating a lot of chicken karaage. I decided to try Shogun's to see how it is. And it's great. It was served with two sauces: sweet & sour, which was good, and a ponzu sauce, which was not. I will be ordering this from now on instead of gyoza when I feel like an appetizer.
Elizabeth, Kate and Dawn decided to get the appetizer sampler, one of the largest such platters I have ever seen: egg rolls, chicken karaage, edamame, tempura, gyoza, and chicken yakitori. If this had been dinner for the three of them they probably couldn't have eaten it all. I had some of the gyoza and yakitori and I loved them both.
When I was a kid I loved the show the teppan chefs put on. I still do. When I was 13, my best friend David and I went to Shogun with my parents for dinner. The cook accidentally threw a sizzling shrimp onto my dad's arm. "Oh, so sorry!" he yelled. "Japanese mistake!" 18 years later all I have to do is "So sorry" to my friend David and he will ask "Japanese mistake?" That sums up the experience perfectly, I think.
They give you two sauces before they cook your food: steak sauce and seafood sauce, although in all fairness, they both taste great with anything. (I like to let my veggies sit in the steak sauce for a couple minutes before I eat them.)
I was the only one of the 6 of us to get fried rice. I have long thought that this is the best fried rice I have ever had. I gave Elizabeth some and she agreed. The salad that comes with each entree is another one of my favorites. I love their ginger dressing.
When I was young I always, 100% of the time, ordered the Banzai chicken and shrimp. Eventually when I got to be a teenager I realized that it was really the shrimp I loved. So now I just order the shrimp entree. They are probably the best shrimp I have ever had. My buddy Murph is also in love with them, and maintains the best meal he has ever had in his life was at Shogun, mostly because of the shrimp. The vegetables are great, too: my favorite are the zucchini and the onion.

My parents, Elizabeth and Dawn all ordered the steak and shrimp. (My parents got an extra shrimp appetizer to go along with it.) The sisters both loved the steak. I have not tried it in years - as I said, I love the shrimp and don't usually leave room for anything else - but I tried one piece of Elizabeth's, and it was great.
And, of course, since it was the day after Kate's birthday, we had them do the whole song-and-silly-hat-and-picture routine, and she got her free ice cream.

Everyone loved their meal. Well, everyone except my dad, unfortunately. (Unfortunate because he was on the one who paid for the meal.) He was not a big fan of his steak and wondered if the place had changed ownership since he had last been there, because he really felt the quality of everything except the shrimp had gone downhill. Regardless, the girls and I took plenty of food home with us and picked at it for the next 24 hours.

This was another fantastic meal at Shogun and I'm glad we all got to go.


Liz said...

This was one of the most amazing meal experiences ever! It was such a fun night with really great food, and great company. The pineapple drink was one of the most impressive things I've seen.

Anonymous said...

Freakin' awesome.