Kasai brings the heat this month | Features

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The Scottsdale-based teppanyaki concept Kasai is scheduled to open this month in Park West shopping center, after construction delays. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” restaurateur/owner Mike Russello said. “It took a little longer than expected due to a bunch of things. I did a little redesign because I didn’t like the first design. It’s looking really good.”

The 7,500-square-foot space, which previously housed Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill, is fully remodeled and features a modern décor with the front of the house having a mix of traditional dining tables, 12 hoodless teppanyaki tables, and bar seating for 50 guests. The interior walls are adorned with unique Japanese artwork, strategically lit to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

A mixed pattern of red and tan sandstone tiles, placed on the walls, and warm chestnut brown stonework throughout the space give a similar look and feel to Kasai’s Scottsdale location. The spacious patio includes high-top tables for up to 20 guests.

“When you walk in, you’re going to know it’s a Kasai,” he explained. “The bar looks pretty much exactly the same. There are some new elements and pictures, just to sexy it up a little bit. I want you to know you’re in a Kasai.”

Originally dubbed Sapporo with an entrance flanked by three torches, Kasai’s flagship 11,000-square-foot location sits near Scottsdale Road and Acoma Drive. A Queen Creek store is slated for 2025.

“I started it under Sapporo in 2001,” he said. “It was going great, then we sold it off in 2010 after the collapse of 2008 and 2009. I think COVID was nothing compared to that financial collapse. 

“I always liked the (Scottsdale) building. Another company bought it, and it went downhill. I was emotionally attached to the building — it’s an icon in Scottsdale. They wanted to get rid of it, so I bought it back at the end of 2018. Since we bought it back, we added more hoodless teppanyaki tables. We went through COVID, and we doubled in sales since we bought it back. Now we’re expanding.”

He said it was an easy decision to bring the concept to Peoria. 

“A lot is going on out there,” Russello said. “I spoke with some of the owners of restaurants in Park West, and all of them told me how great it is. I like what Park West did. I like this better than Westgate. I just like the feeling better; not to abuse Westgate, but it’s a pretty big place.

“It felt good. They gave us a good deal, and I thought that we would do well. I always look for parking when it comes to teppanyaki. You might have three different reservations on one table. That’s a lot of cars. We have a huge parking lot.”

Kasai, which means “fire” in Japanese, offers an extensive menu. Signature dishes include coconut chicken skewers with coconut crusted tenders served with pineapple and topped with a sweet chili sauce ($14/three); Szechuan beef udon yaki created with stir-fried mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, udon noodles, and tossed in spicy Szechuan sauce ($22); and Mongolian glazed lamb chops, coconut curry beurre blanc with jasmine rice ($48).

“People who have our lamb chops love them,” he said.

“They come in a butter Thai sauce that’s amazing. We’re a Japanese restaurant. We do them Asian style. The ribs we’ve been doing forever, too. Those two dishes we’ve been selling since we opened Sapporo in 2001. 

“Our signature sushi rolls — the Kasai roll and Friends with Benefits — sell the best out of all the rolls we have.”

With six to eight pieces, Friends with Benefits ($16) is stuffed with spicy crab mix, tempura shrimp, cucumber, jalapeño, seared spicy salmon, eel sauce, spicy mayo and garlic butter.

The signature Kasai roll is filled with salmon, shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, scallops, crab mix, eel sauce, spicy mayo and sriracha ($20). 

Kasai is known for its teppanyaki, which is offered with filet mignon, New York strip, chicken breast, soy-glazed tofu, calamari steak, salmon, scallops, shrimp, sea bass, twin lobster tails and Wagyu filet mignon. 

Starting at $30, each teppanyaki dinner is served with mushroom soup, house salad, a shrimp starter, fried rice, seasonal vegetables and Kasai’s signature pineapple soft-serve dessert. Kasai also has a specially crafted sushi menu.

“It’s called ‘dinnertainment’ for a reason,” Russello said. “It’s fun. What’s great about us, too, is everybody’s having fun at the table. There are no heads buried in phones. The phones come out to take videos of the chef.

“Everybody’s engaged. It’s a loud concept. If you want a quiet dinner, don’t come to Kasai. You’ll just complain that we’re too loud. It’s a fun atmosphere, and you don’t have that a lot.” 

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski, Glendale Star Executive Editor www.glendalestar.com

2024-01-07 07:00:00 , www.glendalestar.com – Vivrr Local Results in features of type article

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