Nakama
 Pittsburgh, PA        Date of Visit  09/07/12       
http://www.eatatnakama.com/  

We are in the Burg to hear some conversations on Subjective Research Designs and hang with some friends we don’t get to see near enough, funny how a couple of hours or even a couple of miles can keep us from spending time with people we enjoy. Putting ourselves at the mercy of our hosts we head out for the historic South Side to Nakama, of which they speak highly. I didn’t know til we were headed towards the river that Nakama is a Teppanyaki restaurant. We have had various successes in the dinner with a show category but are always looking for adventure.
 



 


 
 


May Not Be Much Of A Showman, But Cooks Well
 

Walking in the front door Nakama is a happening spot in the Burg which is something considering how long they have been serving the South Side. The place is decorated in an exceptionally slick manner and is loud in a trendy sort of way with crowds of people in every nook and cranny, rides of local sports stars parked in the street and food flying above the numerous grills. Our server was quick to the table to work out beverages, appetizers and set up the cook for our proteins. Our drinks arrived quickly and in a switch from my typical hibachi experiences were constantly attended to throughout our stay.

Soup and salad are part of the meal and you get an option of a shrimp or mushroom appetizer as well. If you order the shrooms you lose out to some degree as the shrimp arrive with a mound of the sautéed fungus as well. The brothy soup most associated with outfits like this arrived with mushroom slices and scallions.

 

 
 
Broth Has Nice Kick
 

Familiar And Gingery
 
 

Just To Get You Started
 

The Mandatory Onion Volcano
 
 

What elevated Nakama’s was a noticeable splash of spice in the broth which I enjoyed. The salad is a mix of greens with a familiar ginger based dressing close to the consistency of Elmer’s paste with hints of orange and herbage. The appetizers summed up our experience at Nakama in a couple of ways, the show was lackluster but the actual product was better than most.

Our cook/performer arrived with the cart of goodies and quickly began laying out piles of food onto the plancha grill. I was surprised that there were no folks from the country of origin for the style of cooking on the floor while we were there. The presentation portion of the program suffered to some degree as our cook didn’t measure up to the repertoire of others in the craft. He did pull a stunt I had not seen before, as we were belatedly celebrating an anniversary he shaped the frying rice into a heart…slipped his spatula underneath…and proceeded to make the heart “beat”. He may not have been overly gifted in the dazzle category but he was personable and friendly and fun, I’ll take that over some flippy magic most days. The standardized onion volcano, shrimp tails into the hat, etc., were all executed fairly well with just a bit of fumbling. All of this is forgivable as he produced well cooked and temped food all the way around the table. The mushroom and shrimp appetizers were the beginning. All told we had tuna, steak, shrimp and chicken sizzling away in front of us alongside the rice and veggies.
 

 

The Grill Stays Busy With Veggies
 

Then With Proteins
 

Lots Of Varied And Tasty Fried Rice
 

A Beating Rice Heart For Anniversaries
 

The veggies turned out to be a nice mix and still maintained a bit of crunch. The rice was much better than I am used to. Left on the grill for varying times before being turned there was a mixture of textures and flavors from a pillowy starchy grain to a chewy almost nutty nugget. I wonder if it is like that all the time, I was glad it got smooshed into a big bowl and ate it all. The quality of the food likely extends from the simple cooking method to a small degree and to the quality of the raw ingredients to a greater extent. The tuna came in at a delicious rare, the shrimp tender, the steaks mid rare and the chicken just done through. Small squeezes from various liquid laden flavor bottles and two dipping sauces give you loads of options to keep things interesting as you stuff yourself. Nakama represents a lot of what is right about Teppanyaki restaurants. A little more flair, maybe a unique menu option or two, who knows, they do pretty darn well as it is.
 


Tuna Arrived At Nice Doneness
 

Just Like The Rest Of The Meats
 


Separate Sauces For Fish Or Meat...Pretty Good Mixed Too
 


You Only Leave Hungry If You Order Stuff You Won't Eat
 
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