Reflections on Stripmall Eating

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Girl Walks Into a Sushi Bar...

Name: Oh Yoko!
Location: 1428 Rte. 70 West, Cherry Hill, NJ
Personnel: Megan, Me
What We Ate: Okonomiyaki; Chef's Sushi Appetizer; House Salad; Grilled Barbecue Pork with Wasabi Fries and Julienne Vegetables
Condiments: Ginger Dressing; Wasabi Sauce
Observations: It sounds like the name of a chain but this Jersey-based Japanese BYO where the Fab Five provide an all-night soundtrack is actually independently owned. (Speaking of chains, I recently had my first encounter with the Bamboo Club, which was one of the most terrifying restaurant experiences in recent memory. Let's just say I've had more appetizing meals in hospital cafeterias.) At first, we were a little put-off by the aggressiveness of the service, which went well beyond the realm of helpful into the territory of domineering, essentially forcing us to order the Okonomiyaki. The server also laughed inexplicably when I ordered the pork chop. Inside joke? Nervous tic? Porcine issues? I had to hand it to her, though. The high-pressure appetizer was an intriguing blend of salty, sweet and smoky flavors and crisp, chewy and flaky textures. It was also a sight to behold: The Japanese-style pancake was topped with interlaced squiggles of sweet, soy-based sauce and a creamy white mayonnaise sauce and a feathery layer of bonito flakes that shimmered in the AC breeze. Nigiri sushi — salmon, halibut, tuna, red snapper and shrimp — was impeccably fresh and buttery soft. The hilarious pork chop (two big ones, actually) was grilled and served glossy with barbecue sauce, along with sides of carrot and squash sprinkled with sesame seeds and insanely addictive tempura fries with bright green wasabi sauce. I enjoyed my leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day, even though the fries were a little soggy by then. If Oh Yoko! suddenly went bigtime and took over, say, all the Bamboo Club franchises, I would certainly not complain.