WELCOME to Shogun Japanese Steakhouse!
The decor is Japanese. So are the tableside chefs with their whirling and clattering knives and spatulas. Likewise the waitresses, in the red kimonos. But the food presents no serious obstacles to the westerner. Nearly everything is stir-fried and there are some characteristic Japanese seasonings, but the raw ingredients are tame- chicken, beef and shellfish are the main dishes; rice, mushrooms, japanese squash and onions are among the vegetables.
The gimmick is tableside cooking and sushi bar. At Shogun, there are about nine tables in the front room and six bigger tables in the party room. At each table, a polished wood counter lines three sides of a huge rectangular stainless steel griddle. The chef works on the fourth side, faced by diners.
After orders are taken and appetizers from the kitchen are served, the chef takes over. He is dressed in white and wears a tall red chef's toque an dred apron. In a holster on a leather belt, he carries a sharp knife. The chef introduces himself and then draws from raw ingredients on a cart rolled out from the kitchen to prepare the main courses and accompanying vegetables while you watch.
The tableside cooking is done with a flourish. The chef beats a steacy tattoo on the griddle with his long spatula, moving, flipping and slicing vegetables and meat all the while. He shakes salt and other seasoning from steel shakers high above his head.
Most arresting of the chef's routine are the opening gambit, when he ignites a stream of cooking oil into a flame that rises above head level, and his handling of a raw egg while making fried rice. The chefs can can place an uncracked egg on a spatula, flip it high in the air and catch it on the smooth face of the spatula without mishap.
The proprietors, with the help of artwork, twangy Japanese music and some Japanese architectural touches, have managed to give a pleasantly Oriental air to a building that once hosed a Sambo's pancake restaurant.
Shogun takes credit cards and is open seven days a week for dinner from 5 p.m.
Dining Review By Max Brantley
ARKANSAS GAZETTE Friday, October 28, 1983