Teriyaki House

by Lavachickie
Teriyaki chicken is a lunch favorite in my clan. Quick, flavorful and at least arguably healthy (there's some cabbage in there, am I right?) make it a once a week or so choice.

Teriyaki House on Liberty just as it branches off from South Commercial is the closest purveyor to my work, and as usual we hit it this week. It suffers from the same lackluster appearance that many (most?) Salem eateries do. I can't help but think that most Salem eatery owners have this attitude of, "Well, apparently you can't feed yourself, so we'll feed you... but don't expect us to look nice and inviting."

(I've got five words for you: Love Love Teriyaki on Center. But wait, I'm not going to talk about them... with their cool decor, great lighting, warm colors and inviting... No! Stop it!)

Back to Teriyaki House! Let's start with the good: You can get a fantastic bento box with teriyaki chicken on a bed of perfectly steamed cabbage and vegetables, rice, gyoza, tempura (including two shrimp) and a small salad for only nine bucks. I've had it a dozen times and it's always identical; consistency is very good here at the 'House. Add a little Sriracha or the sweet and hot sauce available as condiments and it's a lunch heaven.

Each day there is a lunch special for $6.95, usually spicy teriyaki chicken on noodles or rice along with a beverage. Lots of food for not a lot of coin. Gotta love it.

The tiny kitchen is right next to where you order, giving you a sense that all is well because you can actually SEE your food being prepared. The same two people are there all the time and are very pleasant and helpful.

Okay, now the bad: the decor is plain, run down, scuffed and mismatched. Table tops and what not are not grimy or sticky, but everything in sight is just dingy. The awning out front is peeling, the name is half gone. Tables rock back and forth, so one person has to hold their foot on the leg the entire meal. The menu board is the only clean and bright thing in sight. But what's worse...

NO ONE LOOKS UP WHEN THEY CLEAN! I mean, seriously, look at this! In the middle of the sky blue ceiling are globs and streaks of black funk in/on/around the vents. This doesn't happen overnight, so it's no like someone just forgot to do it once. THEY'VE NEVER DONE IT. Which makes one wonder... what else aren't they doing?

According to the health department, they aren't cleaning UNDER things, either. A score of 90 in December 2008, which isn't bad. But failure to property deep clean is an issue, and to me that's just an issue of commitment to excellence... or lack thereof. Mostly things you don't immediately see. Like UNDER things. I guess they don't look DOWN either.

(Amuse you and your friends by perusing the Marion County Health Department restaurant inspection score database.)

Now I'll admit, I don't even want to THINK about what is underneath my stove at home, and I'm sure I'd flunk a health inspection intended for commercial venues. But I don't charge my friends when they come over for dinner, and I *DO* look up and clean the cobwebs off the lights.

And I'd really appreciate it if they did, too. (Other places fail on these lines big time, too; I was at Los Arcos recently and we were seated at a booth at the window where the neon open sign hangs. It had more fur on it than a long haired dachshund. Ewwww!)


Salem Man said...

One of my pet peeves is sticky or greasy salt and pepper shakers. Those are usually a good indicator of how much attention to detail servers put into cleaning. I've been known to pick up a Parmesan after wrapping the glass with a paper napkin. Nothing's worse to me then the feeling of touching someone's else's dirty hands before eating.

KandN said...

I remember years ago we'd been out Christmas shopping ALL day long with our girls and we needed food - fast. There was a Pizza Hut sharing the mall parking lot. So we walked in, stood at the counter looking at the menu and saw thick, dusty, spiderwebs all over the long shelf (hung just below the ceiling) of knick knacks. We walked out, figuring the state of the kitchen had to be similar. Bleh

AMY said...

OMG, here's my favorite story of just how low can Salem go. We hadn't been here long, and were looking for good old spaghetti and meatballs, or maybe a stromboli (which in my lingo is a sandwich with sausage, cheese, onions and sauce on it). So we pulled into Michelangelo's Pizza & Spaghetti down on South Lancaster.

We walk in, and behind the counter is a rough looking older woman; you can almost smell the booze and cigarettes from a mile away. She is smoking with one hand, and in the other she is holding a baby who is naked aside from a diaper. She's walking back and forth between the register and the window to the kitchen, before which sits all the plates and usual items servers need to do their jobs.

Menus were sitting on the counter so out of curiosity we opened them up--already damn sure we'd never ever eat there. The menus were positively filthy with sticky smears of food. As we stood there perusing the menus, she sat down her cigarette and switched hands with the baby so she could pull out some plates, and plate some food.

With the same hand she'd just been holding the diapered baby with. All while smoking.

Wow. The place was just awful, a dive of a worn out place.

KandN said...

Great story!
But you have to wonder . . . how does that happen?

Anonymous said...

It happens in the best of towns. We saw a mouse in well-known, hipster eatery in Portland on Alberta.

Teriyaki House microwaved our takeout dinner. I saw them do it. Should have asked for my money back right there and then, but I didn't. I won't be back.