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Beauty of the Burbs

Osaka impresses with quality and execution.


There are no houses, apartments or offices, just commercial space available. You know, Downtown Short Pump. It's a cute little place with a lot of history …

Whoever is responsible for those signs ought to be slapped across the face in public for trying to pass off such a smarmy hyperbole. It's the 'burbs. We know it's the 'burbs. There is nothing "downtown" about Short Pump. You can't polish the 'burbs. You can, however, mine them and discover little gems hidden away in those monotonous square miles of brick, neon and 90-degree angles.

Enter Osaka Steak House. I was convinced after my first visit that it must be part of a chain of restaurants. There is such crispness and consistency in the appearance of the place, the service and the food, that I would have sworn there was a corporate headquarters somewhere churning out little Osaka starter-packages for aspiring restaurateurs. But the staff assured me that this is not the case. Independent place, local owners, that's what they say.

Those owners have done a fine job. Osaka has been open a little more than a year in Downtown Short Pump. It offers an honest and refined dining experience that contrasts nicely with the selling-circus and burger-binging that goes on around it. People seem to be noticing. The place was slammed both nights we went, once early in the week and once on the weekend. The menu is extensive. Twenty rolls ($3.50 - $12.95) are offered regularly as well as three or four specials per night. I was very fond of the Fuji Mountain, which has a crab and cucumber base topped with spicy white tuna, tempura and spicy sauce. The sashimi board ($19.95) is enough for two and featured some excellent yellowtail. I'd pass on the mackerel though.

If you prefer your food cooked, the hibachi awaits. You should know that they prefer for you to sit at one of the hibachi tables if you wish to have hibachi entrees. We didn't want to and were annoyed by the third time a staff member asked if we would like to move from our regular table. They ought to let you know this up front, and they ought to accept no for an answer. Otherwise the service was efficient and professional.

So I'm not into the shtick, but the filet mignon ($22.95) melted in my mouth. The Hibachi Deluxe ($29.95) adds lobster and shrimp, beautifully seared, to the filet. All entrees are accompanied by fried rice and vegetables. The quality of the ingredients made an impression on me. It's hard to fake sushi and sashimi, but you can skimp on beef. Osaka doesn't. You pay for the quality, but it's worth it across the board.

Osaka Steak House stands out in stark contrast to those fatuous signs advertising something that does not exist. The restaurant is sleek like much of Downtown Short Pump, but it's not deceptive. It has the product to back up the appearance. It's worth the drive out to that cozy little burg west of town and the stroll in from section GG23 of the parking lot to dine at Osaka. That is one of the beauties of the 'burbs — the potential to stumble upon something refined and honest in the midst of mediocrity and method. S

Randall Stamper worked in restaurants in Boston, New Orleans and Indiana for seven years and held every job from dishwasher to general manager. All his visits are anonymous and paid for by Style.

Osaka Steak House ($$$)

11674 W.Broad St.


Lunch: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dinner: Sunday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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