Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best Japanese food ever - Tsukasa of Tokyo

Yeah, I know it's Thursday, and I know I'm supposed to be reviewing books, yarns, beads, tools, and other crafty-type things.  But Saturday I have a show in Waukegan, Illinois (at St. John's United Church of Christ on McAree from 9-2 for those of you in the area).  I'm going down tomorrow to take Mom Christmas shopping and to spend the night.  I don't do mornings well, so there's no way I'd be able to get up early enough to make it to the show early enough to set up.  It's a nice tradition I have - I get to spend extra time with Mom and John, and I get to participate in a nice show.  If you're in Waukegan on Saturday, please stop and say hi.

What does this have to do with the best Japanese food ever?  Mom and I are going to shop at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, and Tsukasa is very close.  When Mom asked if I wanted to go shopping, I thought for a second, and then I said, "Oooh!"  Mom then said, "Oooh!" and a mutually agreed upon lunch date was formed, and our menfolk looked at us like we were crazy.  Since we had lunch there last year whilst Christmas shopping, this is another tradition I'll be looking forward to.  (Yes, I wrote "whilst".  That word isn't used near enough, like "thrice".)

Mom, John (my stepfather), and I started going to Tsukasa when they were in a strip mall a short ways down the road from where they are now.  You did not need a reservation the first few times we went, but then you did, then they were packed all of the time, then they knocked the wall down to expand, then they built their own building, then they opened another location.  They are always packed every time we go.  You don't need reservations for lunch, but it's still pretty busy.  Mom and I are always astonished at the number of businesspeople who are there for lunch.

Another tradition: we go to Tsukasa for my birthday.  Every year.  I don't remember when we started, but it was many, many years ago.  Mom and John were in Germany in 2004, and I feared that my yearly trip would be canceled.  My friend Dave stepped up and took me and four of our friends.  It was a fun time!  Thanks, Dave!

They're so busy that they lost my reservation once.  I was devastated, and I led my family and friends outside to figure out somewhere else to go (because it was crowded inside, and we couldn't hear ourselves think).  As soon as I said they didn't have our reservation, Dave walked right back in and talked with the manager.  He explained that we go every year for my birthday, and they said, "Maybe she called the wrong place."  Dave said, "She has your phone number in her phone.  Is there anything you can do?"  There was, and they were able to seat us.  I don't know how.  Again, thanks, Dave!

Why do I love Tsukasa so much?

First there's this:

You have to love any place that makes you fear for your life before you eat.

Then there's this:

After they make the fried rice, he flips it around a number of times, hopefully not spilling the contents.

Then this:

A tower of onions becomes a volcano, then a train.  Choo choo!

And then this:

That green blob in the black area at the top is piece of broccoli that I probably missed.

And finally...  Oh, sweet heaven.  Finally, there's this:

(The above pictures were taken in 2011, in case you're interested.)

First you get salad and soup, then the fried rice (which is truly the best fried rice in the entire world - no exaggeration), then the vegetables, then the meats.  If you get a combo like I do, you also get an appetizer and a dessert.  I always get vegetable tempura and pineapple.  In the above picture, the yellowish blobs are golden shrimp, which are decadent and rich and so very tasty.  It's a little bit of an acquired taste, but once you have it... let's just say I'm salivating right now in anticipation.  The meat is a filet mignon, and it's soft like butter.  You get your choice of sauces - teriyaki, ginger, and/or mustard - but I only ask for the teriyaki.  It's the best teriyaki I've ever had.  It's sweet and thick, and there I go salivating again.

So, that's my review of the best Japanese food ever made.  I have eaten at many, many Japanese places, and this one tops the lot, at least at Teppan Yaki (“Hot Steel”) cooking (according to their website).  I've not had much of their sushi, because I'm always stuffed with everything else I eat, so I can't really review that.  It is well worth the trip from Milwaukee to Vernon Hills every year for my birthday, and it's an extra special Christmas shopping treat.  If you are anywhere near Vernon Hills or Kildeer, you have to go.  (The links take you to Tsukasa's location pages.)

Yes, it's a bit pricey, but you get a lot for your money.  I should take some of my meal home, but I never do.  I practically need to be rolled out of there, and that's the best thing I think anyone could ever say about any restaurant.

And now it's time for me to go to bed and dream of golden shrimp, filet mignon, and fried rice.

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