Yokozuna Teriyaki

Yokozuna is the highest rank in professional Japanese sumo wrestling.  Did you know that?  I sure as hell didn't.  To me, Yokozuna is first and foremost the Polynesian WWF wrestler from back in the 90's.  But increasingly when I hear the term, my mind turns to one of my favorite beverages, bubble tea, and the place that serves the best in town: Yokozuna Teriyaki, located in the Vista Village just up the hill from downtown Boise.

The poster that every place selling bubble tea seems to have hanging somewhere

Okay, so maybe they're not the best in town, I wouldn't know necessarily.  After all, I don't know exactly who all sells it here, and I've never tried it at Bangkok Emporium on Five Mile or at Rembrandt's in Eagle, but like most of the other places in town, they seem to have about half a dozen flavors to choose from.  Currently, Yokozuna has 38.

38 Flavors!  Take that, Baskin Robbins!

Unfortunately, I can only lay claim to having tried four of the available options.  I get hooked on one flavor and it takes me a while to move on to the next one (the girlfriend is having the same problem, she's currently addicted to the coconut flavor).  On this particular visit, I decided to throw caution to the wind and finally try a ginger one.  Thanks to a recent deal at CitySmart.com, I had a $12 gift card to use, so I decided to grab lunch while I was there.

Ginger bubble tea

I have to say I was surprised by the drink.  It had a much stronger ginger flavor than I was expecting, and it burned the back of my throat a little in that way that only ginger does.  Probably the wrong choice to go with my meal though...

I've had a few different things from Yokozuna, and it's hard to describe them.  They have a wide selection, and the food is good but it has a quality that's hard to put my finger on, kind of the same way that Panda Express differs from other Chinese restaurants.  Like they're doing a slightly safer and more mainstream-accessible version of Japanese food.  Usually I get the yakisoba, since it's what I always get when I want a Japanese noodle dish, but this time I was craving rice and curry was sounding good, so I got the chicken katsu curry dish.  My sister, who had accompanied me, opted for chicken teriyaki.

Sorry for the quality of the pic, but I assure you it is chicken teriyaki

Interestingly enough, I'd never actually tried Yokozuna Teriyaki's teriyaki in all the time I've been going there.  I begged a bite off my sister, and I have to admit I was pretty impressed.  True, I like my teriyaki less on the sweet side, but that's a personal preference from someone who can drink straight soy sauce for fun.  The sauce was thick but unable to completely overwhelm the grilled taste of the chicken.  As for me, I got a meal with some assembly required.


So far, so good.  The chicken was well-breaded and crispy but not overly greasy.  To this, I added the container of curry sauce and vegetables.


That's better.  The sauce soaked into the rice nicely, and the vegetable pieces were huge and as soft as if they'd stewed in a crock pot all day.  I'd gotten this dish from there before, more or less (the tonkatsu variety, anyway), and it was pretty mild.  Not so much this time.  As I ate, I became aware of a building heat in my mouth.  This conflicted badly with the back of the throat burn from the ginger drink, and the flavor combination wasn't that great either (entirely my fault...ginger and Japanese-style curry, no idea what I was thinking).  I ended up putting the drink to the side while I ate, and this helped considerably. Mixing the rice in with everything else and eating it all together helped diffuse a little of the heat as well (yes, I'm a wimp, but I swear I'm working on it).  Still, a little painful or no, I couldn't stop eating it because it tasted good, and how many options are there for Japanese curry around here anyway?

I can't say this is the best Japanese food in town by any stretch of the imagination.  Rather, it's more like comfort food with a Japanese twist.  But it's good, and it's safe enough that you can talk people into going who are a little creeped out by sushi bars and teppanyaki grills.  Honestly though, to me the food is just an accessory to go along with the bubble tea, which is worth the trip all by itself.

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