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It’s Just Business: Mandolin Sushi & Steak House

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Whenever my longtime friend and on-air co-host Michael Harris is in town, I like to take him around to local businesses. This time I took him to Mandolin Sushi and Steak House in Tacoma where he was introduced to something he had never before experienced – a fascinating and highly entertaining form of Japanese cooking called teppanyaki in which the chef cooks your food right in front of you in a dramatic and delicious fashion.
Michael loved it and rated the experience at an “11.”
“The cool thing about it is it’s not like you sit down and order your food – it’s a show, basically, which was cool for me to see,” he said. “We sat down and they talked about the menu and they asked if we wanted steak, shrimp, chicken, scallops or whatever so got some of each. And then James came out – he was our chef. We were sitting there and he proceeded to flip knives around and set stuff on fire... He was an amazing showman and a really cool guy, really personable. We had great conversation and he is really, really freakin’ good at what he does – including juggling fire and knives.” James has more tricks up his sleeve, but I won’t give them away here. You have to see – and taste – for yourself the mad skills James has developed over his years as a consummate chef.
I had discovered Mandolin a while back for its four-star sushi, but one day I decided to give its teppanyaki a try. For the uninitiated, teppanyaki grills are often confused with hibachi grills. While hibachi grills have an open grill and use charcoal or gas flame, teppanyaki uses a solid griddle cooking surface and is more suitable for smaller ingredients like rice and finely chopped vegetables and meats.
I told Michael that I would love to do an interview with the owners of Mandolin, and they invited us out to come do lunch. What I like best about this restaurant is that it’s the best of its kind that I’ve ever found in all of this area. Mandolin Sushi and Steak House chefs are the best at cooking calamari and lobster and filet mignon and they grill it in front of you. Like Michael said to me, “They don’t just grill it – it’s an art form how they do it. It’s beautiful.”
Mandolin also has a vast menu of other fine Japanese food like teriyaki, tempura and udon, for example, and unique alcohol beverage creations that will make your next dining experience truly extraordinary.
Mandolin owner Song and his wife Jenny opened the restaurant about two years ago. With Song having been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years, their vision for the place was one where customers could come in, sit down and enjoy a dining experience they would never forget. The menu is huge and the sushi selections have some unique offerings like a Seahawks roll and a Mariners roll. Chef James was hired when he was at the restaurant as a customer. He said he was so impressed by the food being served that this experienced chef wanted to work there. That in itself speaks volumes to the quality of Mandolin’s chefs and the delicacies they prepare.
I don’t endorse specific businesses very often, but I highly recommend the Mandolin. It’s just one of those cool businesses you find where you wouldn’t know it driving by. It looks great from the outside but they have put together an amazing team of people running this place and designing it. It is certainly something special.
Mandolin Sushi & Steak House is located at 3923 S. 12th St. Business hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 4-10 p.m. for dinner; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 4-10 p.m. Learn more at or call (253) 301-4969.