Izumi Japanese Steakhouse
How do you quantify generosity? Kindness? Selflessness? Tough questions, I know…but then I met restaurateur Allen Song, a man with a larger-than-life personality, and an even bigger heart, owner of Izumi Steakhouse, located near the end of Nyberg St., steps away from Tualatin Lake, and I had my answer. Allen greeted us with a healthy “Hello,” and then excused himself, “I didn’t think that we would be this busy,” as the “Teppan” tables filled up and more guests queued at the door, all awaiting their dinner and culinary show – an amazing sight to see amid the Pandemic and the Wildfires, still raging mere miles away.
The dining room is inviting and thoughtful- appropriately lit and adorned with subtle traditional Nippon décor amid streaming white curtains rippling against the floor-to-ceiling windows, apropos with it’s namesake, as Izumi means “fountain” or “spring” in Japanese. The menu provides an excellent celebration of Japanese products- with over 100 Sakes in house (the entrance, alone, is a Sake lover’s dream) a healthy serving of unique Japanese beers (befitting nearly every style and flavor profiles imaginable) and an extensive list of Japanese Whiskeys (that literally made me blush with excitement and anticipation).
Allen returned with a plate of Izumi Tots- “I created these,” he announced, “They’re a play on ‘Octopus Balls’ (Takoyaki), but with something more fun…tater tots.” And, fun they were…oh, and delicious- cramming a balance all of the taste receptors- sweet, savory, spicy, umami- into every little, perfectly fried potato nugget. “Do you like spicy?” Alan inquired, to which Kristen (my wife, eternal dining partner, ride-or-die) immediately perked up. “I started making my own hot sauce,” he remarked as he laid the dark-red concoction before us. “We make all of our sauces here, but this, I’m working on bottling it. Heat with flavor- we wanted something that enhanced the flavor of the food, instead of drowning it.” And, there it was, the perfect kick of heat to make the unique tots, dare I say, even better.
“Do you like Gin?” asked our effusive host, to which my eyes widened- and just like that– an Izumi emblazoned “adult sippy-cup” appeared. “We make our own Pineapple infused Gin, Dang, with fresh pineapple, thus the yellowish color.” The cocktail also employs a house-made pineapple jelly, which together with the gin, makes a deliciously refreshing accompaniment to Allen’s hot sauce, as well as the Street Fighter Roll (crab and cucumber topped with spicy tuna) from Izumi’s small, rotating Sushi Menu.
“How about Sake?” Allen surveyed, “We do a Watermelon infused Sake cocktail that you’ll love”…and we did. Suggestion after suggestion- offering upon offering- it was then that I truly realized what and who Allen Song is. Yes, of course, Allen is the consummate restaurant owner and host, proud of his product, his staff, his creations and his family. And, yes, of course, Mr. Song is a “giver,” as generous as the day is long, who bends over backwards for guests and employees, alike. But, beyond all that, Alan Song is a man who cannot say “no.” “It’s gotten to the point,” Allen explained as he sat down with us, taking a moment away from the bustle of the busy Thursday night, “where people- friends, business owners, you name it- have stopped asking me things- for favors, for things for the community, because they know I’ll say ‘Yes.’ When? Where? Done.”
And, that statement becomes glaringly true when you hear that Allen doesn’t take a day off, even with a toddler at home, and when you begin to fathom everything he does for Tualatin and Washington and Clackamas counties. Honored over the years by the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, Community Police Foundation, Historical Society, Rotary, and countless others for his overwhelming generosity and altruism. However, it’s his most recent volunteering efforts that shine brightly in Oregon’s desperate time of need: feeding firefighters (and their families) dealing with the relentless wildfires destroying the Pacific Northwest. The meals provided for the firefighters on the frontlines in Estacada, Molalla, Bald Peak and Beachie Creek tally into the thousands, even finding loopholes and workarounds to deliver the meals when the government attempted to place restrictions on getting hot meals to those risking their lives to save homes, businesses, forests and more. “Politics aside,” Song admitted, “firefighters just want hot food…and they love my Teriyaki Chicken Bowls.” And, when asked how much money it took to get all of these meals to all of the brave people, especially at a time when restaurant business and revenue is down due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Allen simple shrugged, plaintively, “Sometimes money comes before a lot of things these days. I don’t let it. I’m just providing food.”
Understandably, the Teppanyaki experience has changed in this time of social distancing, but I am happy and proud to say that at Izumi, the spirit, the excitement and the showmanship are still there. Our grill-master, Dalley, was one part juggler, one part magician, one part comedian, but more importantly, perfectly adept to create an amazingly succulent meal. Succulent scallops and steak with tender mushrooms and veg, sweetly spicy noodles, rich fried rice, and even a shrimp or two flying at my face (I promise to get better at catching them, I swear). But, despite all that, I couldn’t shake the question: “Who is this man?” as I glanced over at Allen, enjoying the cooking show with us- who bends over backwards to be the superlative host, volunteer and provider for guests, employees, community and family (many of whom still work at the family run restaurant). “When your heart is in the right place,” he justified, “you just want to do the right thing. And, sometimes that involves doing things that are bigger than yourself.” So, as a new found fan of Izumi Japanese Steakhouse and the man who runs it, I say do the right thing…Eat Here and help support the man who cannot stop himself from supporting this community and beyond.
Izumi is open Sunday-Thursday 4:30 – 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4:30 – 9:30p.m. Please visit and donate to the GoFundMe page devoted to the support of those affected by the Oregon Wildfires established by Allen Song at gf.me/u/yx5gn2
All it took was a warm “smize” and a wave from Charles Bahng, owner of Mashita’s Teriyaki, located on SW Boones Ferry, to realize this is a family joint- a great one, and has been since 2001.
Despite being playfully decorated with over 100 Chicken figurines, statues and dolls from a variety of cultures and in a variety of materials, don’t fret- Mashita’s is no “chicken” when it comes to flavor! In fact, it is the perfect lunchtime fare for anyone and everyone who enjoys a fast, tasty meal of Teriyaki Chicken, Pork, Beef…or any combination thereof.
The pot stickers are perfectly crisp, yet tender and ultimately satisfying, especially considering how quickly they disappeared from my plate. Both Charles and his wife, Sunhee, stroll the dining room, to ensure that everyone is enjoying their meal, offering a little “parent-ly” advice- as overheard at a nearby table, “You make sure you eat all of your veggies.” However, the Bahngs’ concern goes well beyond nutrition, and it’s apparent in their décor, devoting walls upon walls of the quaint restaurant to photos of all of the local Tualatin H.S. teams as well as evidence of their commitment, sponsorship and support of the community.
Frankly, if you are in the mood for a local eatery, with quick, great food, where they remember your name, remind you to “clean your plates,” all in a friendly environment, then Mashita’s is second to none.
Mashita Teriyaki is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Call ahead and they’ll have your order ready: 503-885-7661 • 18810 SW Boones Ferry Rd.