Chow, Baby: Wednesday, April 11, 2002
Yoko Oh Yes

“Donuts & Teriyaki” reads the large sign on Bryant Irvin a block south of Camp Bowie. Does every driver-by attempt to top the gastronomic incongruity? “Ribs & Candy Apples,” say. Or “Smoked Herring & Flan” (which, actually, doesn’t sound all that bad to Chow, Baby).

The name of the breakfast and lunch spot is actually Yoko, after the owner, a graduate of Japanese Palace and Kazusan. And it offers much more than just donuts and teriyaki. Japanese-style beef, chicken, and pork cutlet lunches ($5.99) come with sliced cabbage salad and steamed sticky rice. Bento boxes ($4.99-$6.99) hold various rolls and pieces of sushi: Most delicious were the spicy tuna roll, which was genuinely spicy, and the not-too-fishy octopus sushi. But the rest of the sushi was squishy, and squishy fishy sushi is not Chow, Baby’s cup of saki.

The specialty rolls, which change daily, are the ones to go for. The stunning Yoko ($5.99) is essentially a California roll that’s topped with tuna, avocado, and caviar-like smelt eggs. Fan-tastic. Sushi beginners might enjoy the cowboy roll ($2.99): not-at-all-scary chopped beef, avocado, and lettuce.

After the specialty rolls, the beef and chicken teriyaki ($4.99) was disappointingly bland and Americanized, as if it had come from a mall food court. The accompanying house salad was crisp and rice-vinegar tangy, but the tempura vegetables were heavily battered and curiously tasteless.

For breakfasters, sausage rolls come in three sizes and donuts in a dozen varieties, no better or worse than at any other donut shop in town. Chow, Baby thinks “Donuts & Teriyaki” is not playing to its strengths. Perhaps the sign needs to read “Spicy Tuna & Cowboy.”

Crying Game

What does a foodie have to do to get a hamburger without onions? Chow, Baby, who once thought saying “No onions, please,” would suffice, has had very bad luck this year in the burger-toppings department. Latest case in point: the otherwise perfect Charley’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers.

Until the staffers at the new Montgomery site to figure out how to work the cash register, Chow, Baby must travel the extra five and a half miles to the Granbury Road location for the best bleu cheese burger in town. Some day Chow, Baby will muster the nerve to try Charley’s famous Project X burger ($4.95), but meanwhile greatly enjoys watching the expression of those who brave the Tabasco-infused, jalapeño-encased hunk of ground beef. And rumors abound of the juiciness of Charley’s grilled-chicken sandwich ($3.45), the lushness of the Kenai burger (pastrami, greek peppers, American cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, plus mustard and mayo, $5.25), and even the tang of the sauerkraut-Swiss dog ($3.25). But for Chow, Baby, lunch at Charley’s means a root beer float, magnificently greasy fries, and the finest bleu cheese burger in town (total: less than $10). The recipe is simple: lots and lots of smooth, creamy bleu cheese. (Mayonnaise would be overkill.) Overripe tomatoes are permissible, but anything crunchy would spoil the mood. In a rare nonconfrontational humor, Chow, Baby serenely picked off the offending onions and enjoyed its now-perfect burger.

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