RACINE — At Shogun, it’s always showtime.
Shogun Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, 518 College Ave., has been feeding and entertaining customers since summer 2005. At Shogun, the cooking doesn’t happen in the kitchen — it happens right in front of the diners, on large, flat-top hibachi grills called teppanyakis.
Michael Choi, a Chicago-area lawyer, and his nephew, Sean Youn, opened Shogun together, and Youn took over as sole owner and general manager on Jan. 1, 2008. The South Korea native, 42, is coming up on 10 years as Shogun’s full owner-operator.
Youn describes Shogun, a 3,000-square-foot restaurant that can seat up to 90 people, as: “Dinner and show” for both adults and children. The hibachi chefs’ tools of the trade are a meat fork, a long metal spatula and plenty of fire leaping off the grill.
“You meet people and you basically show ‘em a good time,” summarized Shogun Head Chef Manny Perez. “You do a couple tricks: you have your egg trick, you have your volcano. You talk to the customer, you get to know them.
“Cook food in front of them, fresh,” Perez continued. “They know how the food’s going to be done whether they have a steak medium, medium-rare, medium-well, well done — it’s all in front of them; there’s nothing behind the scenes.”
Perez learned the cooking techniques and tricks from Shogun’s former head chef. The spatulas are slightly altered so the hibachi chefs can spin them on a finger, which is part of the flair brought to the cooking performance.
All hibachi chefs are trained in house, Youn said. He was asked how long that process takes.
“Depends on the person,” Youn replied. “Some people take a month, some people take a year. … But the average is about six months to be ready to be out to cook.”
“To cook the big tables,” Perez explained. “Eight-tops, 12-tops.”
But someone can train for about a month and be prepared to go out and cook for two people, Youn said. “It’s easy. But sometimes when you have a big party, sometimes you have to handle, like, 14 people at a time.”
“It’s pretty hectic,” Perez commented.
At Shogun, the hibachi chefs use ingredients including fried rice and vegetables, which come with dinner, and a selection of meats and seafood. “We sell a lot of tenderloin and chicken,” Youn said.
There are two special butterfly-shrimp dishes, Youn said: Golden Shrimp and Garlic Shrimp. The former uses golden sauce, an egg yolk sauce, “kind of a rich flavor like a Hollandaise sauce,” he said.
Golden sauce lovers “want that for everything,” Youn said. “‘Can you put that over my rice?’ ‘Can you put that over my steak?’”
Sushi can be an appetizer or main course at Shogun, which offers four different sushi lunch specials. The dinner menu names more than 40 types of makimono (sushi rolls) that Shogun’s two sushi chefs can prepare.
“If you just go to the restaurant for the food, you have a lot of choices,” Youn said.
“But if you choose the restaurant for the food and communication or friendship, then: Here we are.”
Shogun is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information visit www.shogunofracine.com online or call 262-637-0777.