Keepers-Salmon Teriyaki

The Salmon Teriyaki at Keeper's Japanese Restaurant & Bar had just the right amount of tanginess.

Japanese food. aside from the occasional jaunt to a sushi restaurant, has never been a huge part of my foodie travels.

I do have a story about having Japanese food in Japan, however. During one of my deployments in the Navy, my ship made a port visit to Yokosuka. A buddy and I went to a local restaurant and ordered food using menus with pictures of the various dishes. As young sailors who were not terribly sophisticated, we didn't know we were supposed to cook our own food on the hibachi at our table until it arrived.

But that was a long time ago. I'm a lot for sophisticated these days. Trust me.

So this past weekend, a friend and I decided to check out Keeper's Japanese Restaurant & Bar on Highway 6 in Sugar Land. Since it opened in 2011, I'd driven by the place I don't know how many times over the years, but had never ventured inside.' That's to my discredit, because it really is a wonderful place.

The restaurant's main dining room is a large and expansive, and there is a smaller one and one in the back of the restaurant. The decor is what I might call classical modernist, with a mix of chandeliers and rounded lamps above tables, and a darkened interior offset by colored florescent lighting.

There is also a full sushi bar and a full bar. Light op-rock music plays from the sound system, and patrons tend to talk loudly enough to be heard above it, so be prepared for that.

There are separate lunch and main menus, plus a happy hour menu. All offer a range of items, with emphasis on nigiri and sashimi, signature and hand-rolled rolls, seafood, chicken and beef entrées, as well as combination dishes.

I went with the salmon teriyaki, with sides of broccoli and carrots and California rolls, as well as miso soup. (As a side note, I discovered during that same port visit that McDonald's restaurant in Japan serve a teriyaki burger. It was pretty good.)

The dish was excellent, with the teriyaki sauce offering just the right level of tangy. My friend ordered the tempura shrimp, which he seemed to enjoy.

I found the service a bit slow, but made some allowances for that given the fact that the dining room was packed on a Sunday afternoon. The server was perfectly polite and answered all of our questions. There were all kinds of people, including families with young people.

As for the name - I didn't quite understand how "Keeper's" was related to Japan or Japanese food. A quick check of the restaurant's website told me that that is the name of its owner and head chef. who has decades of experience. So, mystery solved.

All in all, Keeper's would be an excellent addition to your own culinary adventures.

Keeper's Japanese Restaurant & Bar

Address: 4654 Highway 6 South, Sugar Land

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday

Entrée prices: $11-22 (lunch menu), $18-32 (main menu)

Kid-friendly: Yes

Alcohol: Yes

Senior discount: No

Healthy options: Yes

Star of the show: Salmon Teriyaki

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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