J.B.'s Journal: Japanese Steak House

EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -- "It takes a little while to get really good at it, get skilled with the knife."

Kevin Lewis started working at Shoguns washing dishes, but wanted something more.

"Throughout that entire time I was practicing, juggling the fork, spinning the spatula, all of that."

Slicing, chopping and cutting up meats and vegetables might seem easy but this skill takes years of training.

"We had a chef meeting, whether we should train him or not," Shoguns Operator and Owner Tae Park said. "It was odd, Caucasian man wanted to be a chef at Japanese steak house."

At first there were a few negative comments.

"It only made me want to step up my game, wanted to have the best food, a great show," Lewis said. "Just immediately put no doubt in customers mind that this white guy can do it."

When you come back here you have to be part comedian, part showman, part chef, after all, all eyes are on you. From building onion volcanoes, to twirling utensils, Kevin has become one of the best Hibachi chefs.

"I see him not just cooking, he actually cares," Park said. "You can give a chef same ingredients, same knife, utensils, same heat, come out different."

And while Kevin says all Hibachi chefs have off-nights it just makes him want to try harder.

"Got this one trick where I try to catch a lemon on a fork, gotten pretty good at it- that been the one that I'm trying to get down."

So the customers have a great dining experience.

"The difference between chef and cook is having the passion," Park said. "Or you're just feeding hungry people." 

The first Japanese steakhouse to open in the United States was a Benihana's in New York City in 1964. Ironically, this style of cooking was first tried in Japan in 1945 but the locals didn't care for it as much as the tourists.


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