Two or three minutes off Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens, you will find Japan Teriyaki and Roll. With a menu that boasts authentic Japanese teriyaki at fast-food prices, you would be hard-pressed to find food this tasty served much faster.
When my husband and I set out to try this local favorite, we were greeted, directed to the front counter and requested to order (and pay) before selecting our table.
The smallish dining area was tastefully decorated with bamboo, dark wood and a small mural of a snow-capped mountain peak.
Hot tea is serve-yourself from a large silver carafe, with small china cups for eating in and large Styrofoam cups for dining out.
We decided to buck the system, took two large cups and filled them with the super-hot, perfectly brewed tea. We barely had time to sit down when our appetizer of vegetable tempura ($8.49) arrived.
The golden, crunchy, battered green beans, whole mushrooms, broccoli, and slices of eggplant, squash and carrots were served directly from the fryer and were not greasy. They were delicious. A light dipping sauce accompanied the vegetables.
My husband’s flavorful miso soup ($2.29), with green onions slices floating in the fragrant broth, arrived quickly after the appetizer. It was just as hot as the tempura.
His search to match a fabulous dish he had years ago was in play here when he ordered the chicken yakisoba ($8.99). It offered large pieces of bright green broccoli, onions, mushrooms, red bell pepper and carrots mixed with the generous portion of noodles and chicken chunks and he proclaimed it to be “one of the best” he’s had.
My Bento box dinner was steak teriyaki ($13.99): thinly sliced steak, salad lightly dressed with a creamy homemade dressing, California roll sushi and a few pieces of mixed tempura, which included a large shrimp.
I liked eating out of the compartmentalized Bento box. The steak had a subtle flavor of Worcestershire sauce, which I found a little unusual.
I sneaked a bite of the chicken teriyaki we ordered to go and it was more what I expected, delicious, with the familiar teriyaki flavor.
We were there early in the evening and noted that there was much more to-go foot traffic than dine-in. If we had wanted a quiet dining experience, the 7-Eleven-style door alarm, which bonged each time the door opened, would have interrupted that. However, the owners are so genuinely friendly and welcoming, the dining room so appealing, and the food so good, that we tuned it out.
The to-go and dine-in menu are the same. The bulk of the menu is made up of 14 teriyaki specials ($7.99 to 13.50) as well as seven teriyaki combinations, a few Bento box choices (chicken $11.99 to salmon, steak, or shrimp 13.99), with soup and yakisoba or chow mein.
Sushi rolls run the gamut from the California roll to chicken, salmon, tuna, or spider (no, not real spiders — soft shell crab).
Sit-down dining is almost as speedy as fast food service and is casual. Return customers can get a punch card: Buy 10 entrees and get one teriyaki entree free.
This fast and fresh food was worth the trip and we will make this stop again.
Japan Teriyaki and Roll
10519 20th St. SE, No. 2; Lake Stevens; 425-334-2211
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Vegetarian options: Some.