News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Eats: Otani In Spotsylvania
BY LINDA SALISBURY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
OK, so your mother told you not to play with your food, but that would take all the fun out of visiting Otani Japanese Restaurant.
During a recent meal, our skilled and playful teppan chef, Hector, dazzled us with spinning eggs, an onion ring volcano and pepper “fireflies.”
It’s the sort of show that customers expect at teppanyaki grills, but Hector combined the fun with outstanding food.
Otani (not part of a chain) has been located on a side street near Spotsylvania Towne Centre for about a decade and has a loyal following, as we learned from strangers sitting across from us. They said they travel frequently and always eat at Japanese restaurants, and always at Otani when they come to town.
My Dining Partner and I began with a sushi sampler ($7.95), easily enough for two with three pieces of nigiri (tuna, shrimp and yellowtail over a rice ball) and a tuna roll wrapped in seaweed. Dressed with our own mix of wasabi and teriyaki and chased with sweet pickled ginger, the fresh sushi was a fine start.
Then came Hector, and the flashy food preparation began with the clattering of knives and utensils.
MDP ordered the chicken and steak (medium rare) combo ($20.99), and I the teriyaki salmon ($20.99). While Hector fired up and prepared the grill, we were served chicken noodle soup (a clear broth with fresh mushrooms and tiny noodle threads), and the house salad with a ginger dressing. The broth was delicate and satisfying, but we were disappointed that the ginger in the dressing wasn’t stronger.
Hector began with the fried rice, adding bits of this and that, including eggs that practically danced before they broke, and we began with that while the rest of the meal was prepared. Although I had ordered steamed rice, he gave me a sample of the fried rice, and I plan to order it on another visit. It was not oily or heavy like some I have had elsewhere.
I became concerned when my salmon went on the grill and stayed there longer than the steak and chicken. I feared that it would be dry and tasteless, but my concerns were for naught. The salmon was tender, moist and delicious—about the best I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.
MDP was pleased with his tender bits of steak and chicken, again not overcooked. Bowls of creamy purple sherbet completed the meal.
So ignore your mother. Let experts play with your food at Otani.
What: Otani Japanese Restaurant
Address: 1231 Amos Lane, Fredericksburg, off Bragg Road behind Starbucks
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 4 to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers: $3.95–$5.95; Sushi: $4.95–$12.95; Dinners: $13.95–$32.95; Children’s menu: $6.99–$8.99; Beer, wine and mixed drinks available.
The Scoop: Prompt and cheerful service, family-friendly, noisy in a fun way (lots of birthdays being celebrated) and clatter from teppan chefs. Sushi bar in addition to teppan tables.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted.
Linda Salisbury is the author of the Bailey Fish books, an award-winning adventure series for kids.