I managed to smuggle the great and amazing Jet City Gastrophysics crew to Lacey with me in order to retrace the steps of the almighty Teriyaki Chicken that I grew up on (a little review post if this is your first time reading).
Not much, if anything, has changed since my last time visiting this place nearly twenty years ago. It costs a bit more than the last time (twenty years will do that) but it’s still extremely affordable, less than $10 for a combo with chicken and beef. The affordability stands the test of time and so does the ability to fill me up. I crushed that combination with beef, the stir-fried vegetables, and the rice.
What makes it something that sticks in my mind so much? Let’s break down some observations and notes I had upon my visit.
- It’s chicken thighs pounded thin. A few reasons for this in the logistics of the dish. It can be fired quickly, when it arrives to the guest it looks like a lot more meat, the cook on it is more consistent since it’s pounded down to one height.
- It’s marinated prior to cooking.
- Has a nice glaze on it. SAUCE! Looks like cornstarch is binding it together, traditional. Not worried about recreating it, more interested it glazing properly.
- It’s being grilled on a gas grill. No transfer of smoke to it or really anything other than just grill marks. In Tokyo, I saw this over konro grills which are fired with binchotan, which in the US, is extremely expensive to pull off.
- 325g per portion of chicken going out to the guest. I weighed everything received from the teriyaki place, it’s what I do.
- Cost is next to nothing for this. Bumped with rice and stir-fry it’s an amazing deal.
- Holy shit, they are still busy after all this time! I guess that’s why they didn’t stop after #3
I went on and on in my head for a couple of weeks with additional comments and questions I had. I researched a bunch of things about teriyaki, talked to a few people, and cooked a few rounds of teriyaki chicken.
First attempt was this. I was hungry, it was lunch for me, and I wasn’t thinking about making anything special. The sauce didn’t stick the way I wanted it to which is what I was focusing on at the time. Meh. It was good, just didn’t do anything for me.
The next attempt was directly after the visit to Happy Teriyaki #3. Jeth and Bridget (she just opened an aerial studio in Capitol Hill so check it out!) had us over to their new home in Olympia which has an incredible view of Mt. Rainier.
Jeth and Scott helped prep this out with me. Lots of pounding of meat (heh), cutting of salad, and Rainier beer later we ended up with a 90’s inspired plating of teriyaki chicken (a plating style tribute to the time of when I grew up eating it).
This was pretty damn close for me. I went with a salad instead of the stir-fried vegetables considering we had just eaten another version before and there is also a place in Fremont I visited that had a broken kewpie mayo vinaigrette that I really liked on a salad to accompany teriyaki. This tastes great. It wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be but it served its purpose at the time.
I stewed on this dish for another week and thought of how I could bring it to life a little more. Not that there is anything wrong with its current version, if I lived closer I would still be frequenting HP#3 2-3 times per week. Thing is, I’m a fancy cook, and I can’t shake it. If I was going to do this in a restaurant what would it look like? How would it taste? Like this.
Chicken Teriyaki! I even did a tableside pour…..for myself…..