If you love Japanese food and teppanyaki dining, but don’t want to endure the crowds at the large chain restaurants, you should try Kobe Japan.
Kobe Japan is located in a small strip mall on Oak Park Road in Pleasant Hill (where the original Back Forty BBQ was before they moved). While it may not have the upscale location or décor, it has food that will make you want to come back again and again.
Kobe Japan seems to have something for everyone—from the sushi bar offering an extensive selection of sushi, sashimi, bento boxes and saki, to the teppanyaki tables for those who like to be entertained, and the dining room for those who do not want to watch their food being cooked.
They also have a sports bar that was packed with people of all ages enjoying the big screen TVs, food and drink specials and the casual atmosphere.
I went on a Saturday night with a group of friends, but not enough to fill the entire teppanyaki table, which seats eight. This can lead to “stranger danger” since you will be sitting with people you don’t know, and that can be risky! We got lucky—we were seated with two couples who appeared to be on a date, so there was limited interaction between the groups.
The restaurant was crowded, but we had a reservation and did not have to wait long. They have an extensive cocktail menu with an array of tropical drinks. I had a pineapple-infused vodka that was awesome. The real deal was the beer, which came in 32 oz. glasses!
The teppanyaki menu offers a larger variety of surf and turf options, including Kobe beef from Snake River Farms in Idaho. I tried the Kobe steak, which came with the best miso soup I have ever had, plus a mixed green salad with a nice dressing, grilled vegetables, a choice of hibachi shrimp or a sautéed mushroom appetizer and steamed rice.
I decided to upgrade to the bacon fried rice, since everything is better with bacon. Unfortunately, it was a little too rich for me; I will opt for the veggie fried rice on my next visit. I should warn you that they cook with a lot of butter, but that is probably why it tasted so good!
My Kobe steak was perfectly cooked by our chef, who entertained us with his knife skills, a light and fire show and a smoking volcano! Everyone in our group raved about the high quality of the food, including the New York steaks, sashimi, shrimp and Maine lobster tails.
The teppanyaki setting provided a fun and festive atmosphere, although with all the activity in the restaurant, it was very loud. They do offer semi-private dining rooms for a quieter setting.
Next time you are looking for a place for a group lunch or dinner, I recommend Kobe Japan as a great local restaurant.
Suzanne Boucher is a certified family law specialist. Her practice, located in Walnut Creek, focuses on complex property, support and custody issues in dissolution proceedings.