Shogi Hibachi Express

Joanne Fu and her partner Bill Ho are part of an investment group that owns Taisho Japanese Grill & Bar, a traditional Japanese restaurant and sushi bar in the bustling Sugar Land Town Square, about one block from their newest restaurant, Shogi Hibachi Express (15977 City Walk, Sugar Land, 281-491-0088). The group also owns all of the Shogun Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar locations. "We really like this area, and we're trying to push a healthy lifestyle for the office people who work around here to show them that fast food does not have to equal junk food," says Fu.

Shogi specializes in the Mongolian stir-fry style of cooking on a hibachi. The concept is straightforward but does take a little getting used to. The first thing you do is choose your starch from a list including rice — white, brown or fried — noodles and, strangely, even tortillas. Then you approach the buffet line and place as many vegetables as will fit into one of the bowls that are handed to you. Next you choose the protein such as beef, chicken or seafood, which you place in a smaller bowl. You then add your sauce — at least 12 are available, along with additional seasonings — before turning your platter over to the chef to cook for you.

One large bowl costs $7.99 ($9.99 for dinner), and you can get an all-you-can-eat bowl for $9.99. It's a fun experience and a fast one; it also seems to have a lot of appeal to kids, who can choose exactly what they want to eat.

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Paul Galvani