Nikko Japanese Steak and Seafood Restaurant is a great place for a business lunch -- it's quiet, fairly empty around noon, and the food is good, but not so incredible that it would distract you.
The restaurant on Main Street in Annapolis offers a good selection of steak, chicken and seafood dishes cooked teppanyaki style -- a form of Japanese cooking in which a chef with grills your meal in front of you while deftly tossing about knives, spatulas and even eggs. But the sushi doesn't measure up.
A co-worker and I arrived at Nikko about 12: 30 p.m. on a weekday and were seated immediately at one of the teppanyaki table grills by the window. We liked the pleasant and understated Japanese decor.
The restaurant offers a few lunch specials -- teriyaki chicken, sesame shrimp or steak or a combination of two of the three served with salad, vegetables, rice and tea. The portions looked hearty and a good deal -- priced $6.95 to $8.95 -- but we decided to be adventurous and skip the lunch combos.
I had the filet mignon and lobster ($21.95), which came with onion soup, house salad, shrimp appetizer, vegetables, rice and tea.
The soup was good, but a little heavy on the salt, the shrimp was succulent and perfectly grilled, the small salad was merely adequate.
The lobster was delicious and the filet mignon was absolutely stellar -- incredibly tender and grilled to medium-well perfection. The ginger dipping sauce, grilled mushrooms, mixed vegetables and fried rice all were tasty.
But the sushi was a different story.
In the nigiri style, which comes in two pieces, I had the tamago ($2.50), a sweet omelet sushi, which was OK, and the salmon ($3) sushi, which was excellent because the fish was fresh and soft. But the Maryland roll ($5.95), with spicy crab meat and shiitake mushrooms, was a strange combination.
My friend -- a Japanophile and sushi aficionado -- said he was surprised at the freshness of the yellowtail ($4), salmon roe ($4.50) and squid ($3) nigiri-style that he had.
The baby octopus ($3.50) also was delicious, except one of the two pieces seemed more vinegary than the other.
He enjoyed the Alaska roll ($8) -- a combination of salmon, crab, shrimp, salmon roe, avocado and cucumber -- but the spicy tuna roll was strangely oily, and the Phoenix roll ($7.95), which had shrimp tempura, eel and cucumber, was bland.
For dessert, my friend asked for fresh fruit but was told it wasn't on the menu.
Minutes later, however, as a finale to the great service throughout the meal, our smiling waitress showed up with a plate of freshly sliced oranges.
I tried some green tea ice cream and wasn't disappointed.
It was a light and excellent closing to a good, hearty meal.
Nikko Japanese Steak and Seafood Restaurant
Where: 189A Main St., Annapolis 410-267-6688.
Hours: Lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Prices: Appetizers, $1.75-$5.50; entrees, $10.95-$21.95.
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express.
Ratings: * culinary wasteland **** culinary heaven
Pub Date: 1/21/99