At House of Tokyo, fresh items and food 'at-the-ready' keep customers coming back
By NICOLE WESKERNA - firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. CHARLES – At House of Tokyo in St. Charles, it's all about location.
Whether hand-picking a meal at the floating sushi river, pounding "sake bombs" atop the bar, or watching a teppan chef cook right before their eyes, customers are drawn back to the restaurant again and again, as evidenced by walls filled with polaroid photos of loyal customers celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.
Amanda Bassett, manager and head waitress at House of Tokyo, said some of the customers who were pictured as children now pay visits as adults.
"With the regulars, we're really good at knowing what they want," she said. "They don't even have to ask and [the chef] is already making it."
House of Tokyo, unique to St. Charles, has been located at 2762 E. Main St. for 12 years. Bassett said menu favorites vary depending on where customers choose to sit.
At the sushi bar area, customers can sit in front of a moving river of water with boats that slowly float past each seat at the bar. If something looks good, customers can just grab one of the small, covered plates of sushi as it sails on by. Anyone unfamiliar with sushi can reference the picture menus scattered along the bar.
For customers with a big appetite, House of Tokyo offers an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet special, which means unlimited sushi for $23.95. The special runs from Sunday through Thursday for those who dine after 4 p.m.
Everything is made fresh each morning, Bassett said. Among the most popular sushi selections include the regular or deep-fried California roll, which contains crab and avocado; the tiger roll, which contains cream cheese, shrimp tempura and avocado; and the red dragon roll, which contains eel, tuna and a spicy sauce.
Popular selections of nigiri sushi, or raw fish that sits on top of rice rather than being rolled up, include the spicy crab and spicy shrimp, Bassett said.
On the other side of the restaurant, parties of up to 11 people can watch as a chef makes their food at a hibachi grill built right into each table.
Bassett said her favorite meal from the hibachi grill is the filet mignon served with the restaurant's homemade teriyaki sauce. Another favorite is the Tokyo shrimp, a dish where the shrimp come coated in a butter garlic sauce.
And what of the aforementioned "sake bombs?" Consumed by balancing a shot of sake liquor over a glass of Japanese beer using chop sticks, customers enthusiastically pound the table until the sake falls into the glass, turning a simple beverage into a celebratory experience.
Bassett said the restaurant attracts a lot of couples celebrating anniversaries, as well as families celebrating birthdays. She said the food, combined with excellent service, keeps customers coming back.
And if a customer can't find the right dish, Bassett said the chef can usually whip up some made-to-order sushi.
"If we have the ingredients, we will make it," she said.
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