Eating From the Trash Can: A Bowl of Meh At Happy Teriyaki

Large chicken teriyaki with rice, $8.22.

And so we come to the second of two excursions to the depressing Soviet architecture atrium that is Marion Plaza in Seattle, this time in search of a teriyaki joint that doesn’t suck. (not to say that Okinawa Teriyaki, reviewed on this here blog about a month ago, sucks; it doesn’t.)

Well, Happy Teriyaki doesn’t suck…but it’s not good, either. It is a standard, because-it’s-convenient teriyaki that neither rises to the level of its potential nor sinks to a low of making the eater wonder just how the hell you can screw things up so completely (consider my reaction to 206 Burger the other day.)

We begin with the basics. This is a rice scoop/ball kind of place, and they offer an interesting option I don’t often see in teriyaki-land here in Seattle; if you forgo the “salad” (and that term is used loosely), you get an extra ball of rice at no extra charge. Well, faced with an option like that, how do I say no? I mean, I’d like if they just stuck the rice under the meat where the gods intended, but I have a fork and mixing in is not so difficult.

The chicken is…well, a little bit past tender but not cooked into “needs dental records” territory. There’s a real sense on the part of the cooks here that they don’t want to make anyone sick, or at least that’s the impression I get when chicken cookery errs on the side of over-doneness like this. Not great, slight negative, not awful.

All of the above could be window dressing but for the fact that the sauce…well, soy sauce is not teriyaki sauce and if you call a cat a duck it doesn’t mean the cat will quack. And this is not the only place that does this in Seattle (Yoshino, up on First Hill, does this too, and it just makes me sad.) This is a full-fledged alternative style for teriyaki, and it’s a dirty cop-out. Where’s the ginger? Where’s the citrus or pineapple note? Where, oh where, dear reader, is the brown sugar?

Everything on this plate was at a minimum competent, and at a maximum…competent. It’s a sad display in a sad, depressing pit of sadness in the middle of the most beautiful city in the world. Even if I liked it more than I did, it would just crush my soul to eat there.

PROS: This is a competent teriyaki place at a reasonable price that will fill your stomach. Rice done right, chicken overdone but in a food safety comfort sort of way rather than a chicken jerky sort of way, it’s a competent meal.

CONS: It never rises above its own mediocrity, and did I mention that Marion Plaza is some architect’s idea of an experiment in making you want to kill yourself from the sheer ugliness of your surroundings?

THE VERDICT: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Perfectly mediocre.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.