If you like good food, laughter, the sounds of exuberance and celebration, a mostly loud festive atmosphere then you will enjoy Osaka Japanese Grill in Mesa, Arizona at Power Road and US 60.   They specialize in Teppanyaki cooking  which is an entertaining dining experience where the food is cooked on a large hot griddle.  Everyone seats around the Teppanyaki and enjoys the show.  The food probably tastes even better just because you have the pleasure of watching a specially trained Teppanyaki chef  while they prep, chop, dice it up and cook your food.

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We had six of us for dinner on  Monday night and thought it would not be extremely busy.  Not… it was hopping anyway.  We arrived a little early for a 7:15 reservations and sipped a wine while waiting for the show to begin.  While it took awhile for the cook to make his rounds to our table we watched and laughed at the antics at the other tables.  While ordering drinks we also placed our food orders.  Drinks came promptly for those who had not already ordered one at the bar.  We continued to be amused by our surroundings and then received our salads and soup some 15 minutes after ordering.

The salad and soup were both good from my perspective.  The soup was a delicate and mildly flavor of mushrooms and onion. The salad was too small and due to the size too heavy in dressing.  Other diners at the table didn’t care for the dressing which had a little too much ginger.

soup salad

Now it is 8:15 and we are all getting very hungry but there is a lot of fun going around us so we are still entertained.

Peter, our chef finally makes his appearance and all was forgiven for the wait the minute he started entertaining us.  He was delightful, fun, comical and made the dinner most delightful.  Mr. B ordered scallops and shrimp. Gus, Ms. T, Ms. K, Mr. D and I had filet mignon and scallops.  Osaka makes a fried rice standard at their restaurant which is not typical of all Teppanyaki restaurants.  Usually it is an upcharge.  Now for the cooking show…

Dinner served as prepared.

Well we are all so full and it was worth the wait.  Peter was diligent with his required Saki pours that were squirted right into your mouth.  I was afraid that I would be wearing the drink down the front of my shirt but he was so practiced that not a drop was spilled.  I do believe they were diluted since I didn’t get stinkin’ drunk.

Someone gave Peter the idea that it was my birthday so they did the traditional birthday celebration with carnival mask and candle lit cake.

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Five Star Rating from KCinAZ

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Osaka Japanese Grill and Steakhouse
6730 E Superstition Springs Blvd Mesa, AZ 85206
Phone: 480.830.8884

I’ve searched the internet high and low to try to find out where on Crete this wonderful restaurant is located but have not been successful.  I’ve since learned to make notes of our travels using the notepad on my iPhone.   My Greek hubby and I visited Crete for 2 weeks back in October of 2010.  It was a fabulous vacation of touring the lovely Greek Island of Crete.  Most likely because of my love of cooking and unique ways to prepare food, I found this restaurant intriguing.   They started up the oven early in the morning and filled it with the dishes to be served up at lunchtime which included roast chicken and roast lamb.

I do remember that we traveled from Heraklion and drove south towards Mires through the mountain passes and found the restaurant along the way.  I do wish I could remember the place because the food was excellent and cooked in what I believe to be the traditional Cretan way of cooking.  Most of the websites that I’ve visited make mention that the Cretan diet is one of the healthiest in the world.  The food is fresh, flavorful and quite delicious.

In our home location outside of Heraklion, we strolled to a roadside tavern where we enjoyed a Cretan pizza made up specially for us.  It was a Greek pizza of feta cheese, roast tomatoes, special seasoning and then layered with grilled chicken.  Since we needed internet access and the only way to get it was to find a restaurant or tavern that provided, we found ourselves back at this same tavern many times, enjoying the pizza, a large draft beer and the pleasant company of the hostess.

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Much of our travels in Crete centered along the northern coast visiting many richly historical places on the island.  Since most of our vacations are at timeshare locations there was nothing real spectacular about our hotels so there is no mention of these locations.  We stayed one week in Rethimnon and the second week in Heraklion which are both on the northern coastline of Crete.  We picked the cities due to our love of ocean and beach front locations.

Later on, I’ll post up some more highlights from this trip and the cities we toured.  To learn more about Crete, you may want to check out Visit Greece Crete.   Geographically, Crete is is the largest island in Greece which allows for enough area to explore and not get bored in the two weeks we were there.  Crete is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is definitely worthy of a visit.  There are vast beaches along the northern seaboard and historical areas along the travelled road and historically preserved cities to visit.  Each of the cities we visited had enough to offer that we easily spent several hours if not most of the day exploring each and savoring the foods of this rich area.

 

This was our second dining experience at Uncle Sal’s in Scottsdale AZ and the dining experience was just as great as the first.  It had been several years since we had first enjoyed the fine food of Uncle Sal’s and I was anxious to see if they could live up to my expectation based on the prior experience.  Our friends Fred and Basia highly recommended the restaurant both times and I quickly said yes when it came up again.   Our first visit was a little on the pricey side because we were in the main dining room and selected from the dining room menu.  I’ve no regrets though since the meal was greatly enjoyed by all and I was eagerly awaiting another visit.  I just wish my hubby, Gus, loved Italian food as much as me which would bring me here more often.

Uncle Sals At Thomas & Hayden Roads, Scottsdale AZ Our second visit was just as great but our dollar output was much lower.  The food was just a splendid as if we were still in the main dining room.  We seated ourselves on high back chairs at the bar since we did not have reservations and the only regret was the hard seats.  Gus was especially sad that we were not in main dining because he has a skinny little butt and complained later to me about the seating.  He would have preferred main dining even if the bar menu was not available.  When dining in the bar you have choice of the full dining room menu or the more reasonable, but limited bar menu. dunclesalsbar-25-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255 All the seats at the bar were also full by 7pm on this Sunday evening with other wannabee’s wandering in and around looking around for a seat.  We had our seats, a smile on our face and a great bartender, Johnny, giving us full attention.  Feel free to order the house Chianti for your choice of wine with dinner if you are more budget minded, however, there is a great wine selection to choose from.  The Chianti is a okay wine, priced reasonable and served by the glass. A freshly made house dinner salad was our starter and was bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes and mine with a delightful house vinaigrette dressing.  I ordered the Chicken Milanese especially because I had tried a recipe from Big Oven and I wanted to compare the two dishes.  Sal’s Milanese was a delicate lemon sauce over a lightly breaded chicken along with Sautéed green beans.  _mg_5211_small-11-800-600-80-rd-255-255-255Uncle Sal’s was a much more delicate version than the one that I made and this was probably due to the light breading on the chicken.  It lends truth to more is not always better. Gus ordered a Rib Eye that was to die for and so huge it covered most of the plate.  I made him give me a bite and it was delicious.  Cooked medium rare and then with a butter topping of parsley, oregano, garlic plus salt and pepper, it would par with Ruth Chris easily but Ruth Chris would have been three times the price.  The was definitely enough for the most hearty appetite.  Gus had half left which we took home and made a hot steak, mushroom and Havarti cheese on French roll the following day.   In this case more was better since Gus had the pleasure of two meals and both very tasty._mg_5206-24-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255 Basia enjoyed a Pan Seared Scallop dish from the bar menu.  Her choice was priced very reasonable but they did not cut corners on preparation or quality.  It was excellent, of course I had a bite!  There was a nice light lemony sauce with bits of bacon for added flavor.  Fred’s choice was a Meatball Calzone also from the bar menu.  It was incredibly with large meatballs and lots of cheese.  This was the ultimate bar-man’s meal. On a fun side, I’ve heard rumor that Uncle Sal’s was based on a mafia family opening a restaurant to go legit.  Who knows for sure but it does add a little sparkle to the experience.  I can just imagine that Joseph “Joe Dogs” Iannuzzi dined here or led a secret life with Uncle Sal.  More to the truth, the Molinari family brought this fine cuisine to the valley of the sun in 1988.  The restaurant is high action, fast paced with a clientele ranging from their 30’s to 60’s from what I observed.   I would recommend to eat in the dining room where you may be more comfortable but if dollars are an issue pick the bar and let Johnny entertain you. Whether you eat in the bar or in the main dining room you will be sure to enjoy.   All in all this was a great experience, great meals and I cant wait to try something new next time. Here are some samples of other dishes prepared at Sal’s and borrowed from their website; http://www.unclesalsaz.com/ _mg_5239_small-20-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255_mg_5235_small-10-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255epasta-19-600-450-80-rd-255-255-255

Our first early evening in Galveston after a long slow dreadful drive from Houston was completely forgotten when we found ourselves at Nate’s Seafood in Jamaica Beach.  At least the dreadful drive through rush hour traffic on a Friday in Houston was forgotten, not the great dining experiences that day.  About, Nate’s,  don’t be confused by the Jamaica Beach address, it’s a small town along  the main Seawall Blvd from the East End to the West End on Galveston Island.  They are located just at the west side of Jamaica Beach.  The signage can be confusing along Seawall.   You leave Galveston, enter into Jamaica Beach and then return to Galveston just within a few miles.  Our Timeshare location was just a short 1.8 miles from Nate’s and Jamaica Beach.

Nate’s was found only because of stopping at the local market that was short distance from our Timeshare trade. The hotel (if you can call it that) didn’t have a dining facility and hunger had again set in after lunch earlier that day at Lupe’s Tortilla Mexican Restaurant. After filing the grocery basket to the brim with snacks, fruit, Shocktop, Guinness and Ménage a Trios red wine, the car was loaded up and we walked the short distance to Nate’s.  Luckier than most upcoming diners, a table had just been cleared and it was our for the taking.

On an earlier post about Eating Our Way Through a Vacation, I spoke of curbside appeal for a restaurant.  I can’t tout anything special about the façade for this little diner but surely it is not a best kept secret of Galveston.  It was clean, freshly painted outside and had a nice add-on outdoor patio.   It appears to be a regular stop for the locals and seasonal visitors with the bustle of hungry people coming and going to tables.  The bar packed with people noshing on plates of peel and eat shrimp or piled high plates of crawfish. The wait staff is at a quick pace that doesn’t slow the entire diner hour.

nates

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During our visit to Galveston, we dined two times at Nate’s.  Mostly for convenience on the second visit, but the food and service were good enough for a return visit.  The first meal appetizer was Peel and Eat Shrimp which was nicely prepared with a light and tasteful spicing that must have been from a steamer broth.  Then we shared a large hamburger that was cooked exactly as wanted and large enough to share.  Selecting a beef dish may have been a mistake.  The burger was good, but being that Nate’s is a seafood restaurant the main course should have been seafood and I wish we had gone the extra dollars for something seafood.

On our second visit again we selected beef.  Go figure??  The meal was the Smothered Hamburger Steak and it was good.  Small side salads and a glass of so-so wine was enjoyed while waiting for the main course.  The Smothered Hamburger Steak was robustly spiced with a rub and grilled to a medium rare as requested.  Normally their hamburger steak would be covered with a beef mushroom gravy but we requested ours on the side so that we could enjoy more of the spice rub flavor.

Nate’s may not be five star dining, but the menu has enough variety for everyone, the staff is attentive and friendly, the portions are large enough to often split if desired and the prices are reasonable.  A very popular stop for the Galveston West End and worth the extra drive away from the heavy traffic on the East End.  Give them a try.

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Nate’s West End
17575 San Luis Pass Rd.
Galveston, TX 77554
Phone: (409)737-9530

More reviews to come as we travelled from Houston to Galveston and throughout that area during the first week of May 2013.

Gus and I stopped by the Open Range Grill & Tavern in Sedona, AZ on our way back from Flagstaff to Prescott last week.  The restaurant rests in a beautiful setting within the Red Rock area of Sedona on the East Side of highway 89A that threads its way through town.  Since Open Range is on the second level of the Singua Plaza, you get spectacular views of the mountain range on the East Side of Sedona. The picture below will give you a great idea of the view from the dining room.  The restaurant itself is appointed in a combination of industrial and western design that somehow works well together.  It has a very open yet inviting look.   The restaurant service was excellent and our server Jeff was pleasant, friendly and took very good care of us during our lunch visit.

Open-Range-Logo

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We selected the Bison Burger from the menu.  I have on occasion made bison burger at home and it is usually okay but not quite as juicy as a standard beef burger.  This same holds true for the Bison Burger at Open Range Grill.  I can’t place blame in the restaurant for serving a dry tasting burger.  When you cook a burger, whether it be bison or beef, when it is served medium it just doesn’t have the taste and texture that is to my liking.

However, I am sure that they have other items on their menu that would satisfy me more when we visit them next time.  For a look at what they are all about and other menu items, visit their website at Open Range Grill & Tavern.    I think I may give their Sage Rubbed Chicken a try next time.   I suggest you give them a try too if in the area, but do avoid the Bison Burger.