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Adventures in carryout: Yamato’s is keeping hopes up and the food tasty

Mystery Diner • May 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM

You know, I’m thinking that the light we will see at the end of this virus-beastie’s tunnel will be shining out from a restaurant’s “Open” sign.

It will look just as big and bright as the “Open” sign at Yamato’s Japanese Steakhouse telling me to come on in and pick up the dinner order my dining partner phoned in just 20 minutes before.

Yamato’s Japanese Steakhouse is located on West Market Street in the shopping complex where the old Food City supermarket was, (and the new Publix supermarket is supposed to be.) In business since 1998, proprietor “Mister Dan” Lam and his capable staff are making sure their hungry customers are always treated like family. Though Mister Dan currently has Yamato’s dining room closed (but possibly not for long if that “light” I spoke of stays on for a bit), their kitchen is still available for take-out and curbside delivery.

Fried pork dumplings appetizer: I can usually tell if my dining partner really has a hankering for a particular kind of culinary enjoyment: her meal order contains an appetizer as first course. My dining partner has a particular fondness for fried dumplings, especially if their filling is Asian-style pork sausage. So it did not surprise me that four fried dumplings ($3.25) were leading off her part of our take-out order. Yamato’s makes a particularly savory fried pork dumpling that is pan-fried in a “wok hei” (pronounced “hay,”) or fried in a very hot, initially “dry” wok, leaving a small amount of cold cooking oil to be added later. The look on my dining partner’s face as she lifted the lid on her carton of dumplings was almost feral, which became one of delight the moment she bit into her first fried pork dumpling. My offer to open the duck sauce packets supplied with the meal was dismissed with a “don’t bother me” hiss and a wave of her hand. Of the four dumplings in our order, the divvy-up was “A Lioness’s Share” and “A Mouse’s Share. “ Guess who got which portion?

Sesame chicken with rice: For her entrée, my dining partner decided on an order of Yamato’s Sesame Chicken with fried rice with some cooked carrots added ($7.79). Yamato’s kitchen did not disappoint, as the chicken was both breast and thigh meat, coarsely chopped and stir-fried with a tasty teriyaki sauce. The chicken is then dusted with toasted sesame seeds and served atop a good-sized serving of Yamato’s delicious fried rice along with some chopped fresh mushrooms and sweet, cooked carrots on the side. Deciding against the included packets of soy sauce, my dining partner chose the shrimp sauce as accompaniment for her chicken, fried rice and cooked carrots and was very pleased with the result.

Spicy pepper chicken & shrimp with rice combo: My choice for my supper was one of Yamato’s double combo platters, specifically the spicy pepper chicken and shrimp combo ($11.99); again, served with fried rice, some broccoli florets, stir-fried mushroom bits and the cooked carrots. Instead of the clear sipping soup that came with the meal, I substituted additional fried rice just to be sure my dining partner and I both would have enough. As it turned out, we didn’t have to worry, as all portions were adequate, in some cases even generous. The chicken used in my dish was prepared the same as that found in my dining partner’s entrée, with the exception of including 15 or so good-sized shrimp with the chicken, veggies and rice mixture just before it was to be pulled from the fire. Given the quantity of ingredients used, plating my meal into its Styrofoam carton took a bit of doing, especially when trying to close the lid. Serving my chicken and shrimp with the vegetables, the fried rice and shrimp sauce made for a delicious supper, leaving a big enough portion left over to have for lunch the next day.

The bottom line: “Mister Dan” Lam and his team at Yamato’s Japanese Steakhouse are doing a very professional job, treating customers like family, serving them delicious food under very trying circumstances, and doing so with a smile for everyone they meet. As for the trying circumstances, we will all get through them, learning to adapt and adjust to the “new normal” and be that much better for having gone through the experience. Just remember, to keep your hopes up, because the folks at Yamato’s Japanese Steakhouse will keep our food tasty.

Yamato Japanese Steakhouse

509 N. State of Franklin Road

Johnson City

232-8868

Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Take-out and curbside delivery only

Credit cards accepted

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