The experience

5 years ago today, the sweetest and cutest little girl was born into the Phipps family, we named her Mina.  We celebrated this day by trying to make it as special as possible…without making a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.  That meant starting the day at the Original Pancake House (where service was not that bad, but it was an unpacked weekday), and a FULL day at the Texas State Fair.  We wanted to leave the fair around 3:30, but we rushed to leave at 5:30!  The next best thing to Chuck E. Cheese in Mina’s world is eating Teppan.  We only want the best for our Mina, so we surprise her with a vist to a Phipps family favorites, Kobe Steaks.

Grandpoo and Oma arrived well ahead of us (we drove with Lolo and Lala), so when we arrived, we sat right away.  Mina was busy talking with her Tito Edgar (my brother) but we had to wait on Ogre to come in from parking anyway.  We were checking out the menu and luckily we all pretty much knew what we wanted because Mina wanted to go ahead and open presents from her grandparents.  We decided to go ahead and let her.  In fact, Ogre was even going to let her open a present for the girl celebrating her birthday at the teppan next to us.  Luckily, we stopped him.  Mina would’ve come home with a Wii!

Once we got that done, we put in our dinner orders.  I told the waitress it was Mina’s birthday.  She came back with a red umbrella and a camera to take Mina’s picture.  They don’t get to keep the umbrella, it’s solely for a photo op, but it was pretty cute.

Mina posing for a birthday picture


Now it was time to wait.  Benji wanted “dow dow” already.  My mom thought it was because he was hungry and frustrated that the group across the way was eating.  They brought out the soup and Benji was all about “mo mo yeah.”  My mom and I had to tag team him.  Luckily, my mom kind of spearheaded that task, she’s much more patient than me. The waitress was kind enough to bring him a little bowl of croutons, which we put in the soup and gave him.  He loved it and ate it all up.  It was difficult for her to eat her salad because he is so demanding, so when I finished my salad she handed over Benji feeding duties to me.   About this time, the chef arrive to start cooking our dinners. 

World's Best Fried RiceThey make the fried rice first, which is a blessing for the Phipps family because Benji loves “rye” (rice).  Benji also just loves to watch smoke and steam so everytime the chef put butter on the teppan, Benji was happy.


Onion VolcanoThey go right in to cooking up the vegetables and some of the items that take longer to cook, such as the chicken.  He made the onion volcano, but the fire was pretty “messy.”  They did some other crazy setting the zucchini on fire, which was pretty entertaining to not only the kids, but the Ogre as well…

Dinner and a Show at Kobe's


He also did the catching shrimp in his hat and pocket and did some fancy handwork with the stainless steel bowl, but overall, he stuck to cooking our food without too much fanciness other than making noise with the salt and pepper.

Benji and LalaMy parents and I spent most of dinner trying to keep Benji happy as he would want “rye” and then would act like he was done by handing (usually my mom) his plate to someone and then asking for rice again.  We managed to keep him from crying too much or too loudly.  When my mom finished eating she took him out of his seat and played with him.  Once I told him we’d be getting ice cream, he wanted back in his chair.

I don’t know too much about what was going on Ogre’s side of the table.  I think they were able to enjoy some adult conversation.  Well, maybe it was all adult conversation, I looked over to see this going on:

Grandpoo's scary face

Mina copying Grandpoo's face

Mina's Grandpoo impersonation


After Mina finished her dinner, she played the “Pop the Bubble Game” on Ogre’s phone -normally, she is not allowed to do this, but since it’s her birthday, we let her do this AND she didn’t have to eat any vegetables!  She told me that she loves her birthday because of the fact that she doesn’t have to eat vegetables.

Next came the fun stuff.  They brought Mina’s cake and the waitstaff sang her (I guess) Happy Birthday in their own Kobe Steakhouse/Japanese way. 

Mina's Picture Cake 

Then they brought out the ice cream.  I gave mine to Benjamin.  My mom was giving him some of hers.  I guess he liked the Orange Sherbert more as he kept requesting more from my mom.  He got a little crazy with all the ice cream.  He started goofing around and after every bite, he’d make a goofy face and say “iss gooo” (it’s good!).  He was really cracking us up because sometimes he’d have a huge smile on his face when he’d say it and other times it’d be a serious, eyebrows raised “goo.”

Benji's Sugar High

"Isss goooo!"

That’s how we feel about the whole dinner, too, Benji, “Gooooo!”


The food

Nothing short of excellent.  All of the adults except Oma ordered the filet.  You would be remiss to not do so.  One of the times I’ve been here in the past was probably where I ate the best steak I’ve ever had in my whole life.  It was like butter melting in my mouth!  It is consistently excellent here.  Ogre said his was on the top end of excellent, I said mine was on the bottom end of excellent. 

The Teppen

I also think that their veggies are done very well (although my mom that they were a little overcooked).  The fried rice is one of the best in town.  Just enough soy sauce and nice bits of egg and veggies.

Ogre ordered his with scallops and he said it was “tasty.”  Mina ate almost all of her side of shrimp (I think it’s 5 shrimp and she ate 3).

Benjamin’s favorite part was the soup, but he ate a lot of fried rice and A LOT of my mom’s orange sherbert.

The children’s menu has chicken, steak, or shrimp with smaller portions of the vegetables that come with adult entrees.

Kobe Feast


The service

This is pretty well oiled machine.  They keep the eating area uncluttered and since they are on a timeline, you get your drinks, soup, and salad in a very timely fashion.  Of course, you’re get your food nice and hot and you know the food is fresh!


The kids

This type of dining experience is very kid friendly once you get past the waiting around for the “show” to start.  Lots of oohs, ahhs and wows will come out of their mouths.  Plus, you continually get new food once the show starts.  The problems comes before things get started.  They don’t give out crayons or anything to keep the kids entertained.  For kids that can reason, the anticipation will likely keep them from boredom. 

They have a pretty good kids menu that serves up smaller portions of the main adult selections (chicken, steak and shrimp).  However, we found that just adding a side of the main dish and then letting them eat off our plates seems to fill our kids tummies just fine. 

Also, of note, they do not have “to go” or kiddie cups here.  That could be a problem. It almost was one for us, but every once in awhile a plume of smoke or steam would a rise distracting Benji enough for him to forget about wanting to have his drink within his reach and control.

In my opinion, the “show” is better at Japon (or at least Henry at Japon is superb).  Our chef did a few tricks and his volcano wasn’t that great, but the food is the real star of the show here, maybe they know it!

The total: $247.08 (6 adults and 20 dollars worth of sake)

What did Guidelive say?

Mina's 5!

How old are you, Mina??


Rants, Raves, and Ramblings

Ogre found out tonight that in many Asian cultures, including Japan, up until recently (1920s for Japan) birthdays are not individually celebrated.  Kazoedososhi is what it is called.  You are considered to be one year old when you are born and everyone adds a year at New Year.  That’s one big celebration!!

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