A pleasant afternoon at Sugar Cane

Mystery Diner • Mar 7, 2020 at 9:00 AM

Having thrashed out the details by phone and text the previous evening (working title: “Spring 2020: The Lawn & Garden Projects”), our friend the Retiree joined my dining partner and I on a mid-morning visit to several local garden centers. While my two friends debated planting ideas, tools and materials, I was detailed to check out fertilizer nitrogen content, while at the same time learning what various sizes and weights per bag were to be had. Keeping an un-injured back, like luck, favors the prepared. Having purchased several new garden tools (my dining partner’s) and a 50-pound bag of fertilizer (mine) we all decided on breaking for lunch at Sugar Cane, the newest addition to north Johnson City’s restaurant scene.

At first glance, Sugar Cane’s outward appearance seems as equally nondescript their shopping center’s other tenants. That is, until you walk through their front door. Inside, the restaurant’s nicely seen-to “Asian Minimalist” decor has a comfortable, calming effect. It is as if Sugar Cane is letting you know that, for a time, refreshment and peace can be found in this place. The floor-to-ceiling glass bubble wall partition separates the restaurant’s lobby from a dining area holding several teppan grill stations, and a table-and-chair area seating a hundred or so patrons. A well-tended sushi bar can be found at the rear of the restaurant. Its display cases colorfully display fresh sushi meats and vegetables as used by Sugar Cane’s sushi shokunin (sushi chefs). Restrooms are centrally located to all dining areas, and are clean and well looked-after. Wait service, personified by our server Anna is professional, yet laid back and friendly.

Chicken Hibachi Lunch Special: The Retiree started us off by ordering one of Sugar Cane’s Chicken Hibachi lunch specials ($7.95, $6.99 w/ coupon). This is a two-course meal starting with a bowl of Sugar Cane’s clear mushroom soup to sip, followed by an entrée of white meat chicken grilled with coarsely- chopped onions, bright orange carrot slices, with a good serving of fried rice on the side. The mushroom soup was quite good, its clear vegetable broth limpid, fragrant and flavorful. The main course’s blending of chicken, onion, and carrot was both colorful and quite tasty.

Jumbo Shrimp Hibachi: My dining partner chose the Jumbo Shrimp Hibachi lunch ($8.75), choosing the clear mushroom soup, then moving on to the entrée; jumbo shrimp, chopped onion and carrots all grilled in teriyaki sauce and served with fried rice. Though the moniker “jumbo” in size meant my dining partner’s shrimp were limited to just seven in number, all were of a good size and quite tender, even after grilling with the onions and carrots. My dining partner’s fried rice was very flavorful and of the proper texture, a fitting accompaniment to her lunch.

Shrimp Tempura Bento Box: To get a good cross section of what Sugar Cane’s menu had to offer, I picked their Shrimp Tempura Bento Box as my lunch ($10.25). The entrée here was three large (ring finger-length) shrimp each dipped in a panko tempura batter and then deep fried. There followed two sizable onion rings, deep-fried in a tempura flour batter. Contrast was provided by a crunchy vegetable spring roll, along with a four-piece California-style maki sushi roll. An order of fried rice was my side order. Every item I ordered fitted snugly into one of Sugar Cane’s stylish bento boxes, with room for a mini-ramekin each of soy sauce and shrimp sauce for the tempura, and some pickled ginger and wasabi for the sushi. Instead of the clear mushroom soup, I opted for a side salad of crisp lettuce, crunchy purple cabbage and flavorful julienned carrot lightly tossed with a tablespoon or two of Sugar Cane’s shrimp sauce. Delicious.

The bottom line: My two friends found lunch at Sugar Cane to be delicious, very pleasant and a good value. Our server Anna did a fine job seeing to our needs. Sugar Cane’s kitchen staff took care preparing our lunch orders, making sure each arrived at table in a timely manner. Everyone on the staff of Sugar Cane that was involved in making our lunch such a tasty and pleasant afternoon’s delight gets a deserved “Well done” from the Retiree, my dining partner and myself.

As we were leaving, Anna suggested that, on our next visit, we try some of Sugar Cane’s creations from the Thai side of the menu.

I can’t think of a better reason for a return trip. Can you?

Sugar Cane

112 Sunset Drive, Suite #2

Johnson City


Mon-Thu 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Sat 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Sun 11 a.m. – 3:p.m. 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.

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Credit cards accepted

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