Friday, October 29, 2010


When it's cold out (50s, but a 20+ degree drop from yesterday) and there's a lot of work to be done on a Friday, that sadly calls for a lunch close to the office. Fortunately there was a new place (opened this month) called Cafe Jia a block from the office and I went over to check it out.

I figured it would be like the generic midtown deli (sandwich, salad, hot/cold bar) but I ventured in to see if anything would inspire me and well, I was cold (so cold that my hands were shaky!).

Toward the back I saw the teppanyaki section. I was intrigued by it, and also my subconscious was probably thinking about warm grills and fires. After surveying the other options and ruling out tacos (sigh, addiction), I decided on teppanyaki. One big factor was that the grill looked very clean. This is something I definitely pay attention to when ordering something like this because of my broccoli allergy and its incomprehensible prevalence in Asian cooking.

For one meat plus 4 veggies (plus sauce and either rice/noodles), it's $7.75. I got chicken with string beans, vidalia onions, shiitake mushrooms and red and green peppers. I tried for asparagus and snap peas but they appeared to have run out of a lot of stuff. The chef told me that a lot of people had come through earlier in the day and apologized for being out of so many things. Also, he only had white rice left (I was hoping for brown, but oh well). It's OK with me -- at least there's good turnover.

I watched him cook the chicken, add the veggies and then add the rice. For some reason I thought the rice would be on the bottom of the bowl and then the protein and veggies would just be on top, not mixed together, but more mixing was fine with me. At the end, he added a combination of the white shallot oyster sauce and the garlic teriyaki sauce (his recommendation was to mix them).

It's pretty good! It's filling, it feels healthy (although with all the oil that goes into teppanyaki it's probably not), it has veggies (half the time at lunch where I go is dictated by the fact that I want some form of vegetables), it's cooked on the spot, they give you a lot of food. And even better - today hibachi was 50% off, so lunch cost me less than $5! For that entire bowl of tasty food. Sounds like a good deal to me.

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