Simple, filling student-friendly Japanese fast food
Chico, CA 95926
The Teriyaki House, at the intersection of West Sacramento and Nord avenues, is at the epicenter of a variety of restaurants that offer low-cost meals for a largely student population living on the west side of the Chico State campus.
It’s a tiny place, with five mismatched tables inside and two more outside under a covered porch. The décor inside is minimal—a couple of Japanese pictures adorn walls in a space that is otherwise “no-frills.” The menu is just as simple: charbroiled meat over steamed rice and smothered in teriyaki sauce.
My friend and I ordered from the combo menu. My meal consisted of three charbroiled chicken skewers on a bed of steamed white rice and veggies with three imperial rolls ($5.95). I enjoyed the charbroiled chicken cut into nice-sized, tender pieces, but found the accompanying teriyaki sauce overpowered by honey and much too sweet for my liking. I dug around my rice looking for the steamed veggies advertised with meal, but I found only one small piece of broccoli, two slices of carrot and a mash of limp bok choy.
I looked over to my friend’s meal. His plate of chicken and beef teriyaki was a generous portion, a massive bed of white rice topped with handfuls of sliced chicken and beef ($5.99). He agreed that the first flavor you taste is honey when you dip into the teriyaki sauce. Savoring the chicken, he said, “the sweetness of the teriyaki mellows out once the marinade drains off the meat a bit.”
“Let me see your steamed veggies,” I said.
“This meal is not about the veggies,” he retorted. “This is about ‘logging in.’ “
“It means stuffing yourself with as much carbohydrates as you can—get as much bang as you can for your buck,” he explained. “This is ‘starving student’ food.”
Still, when he turned the rice up from his plate to let me view his veggies, once again there was the single broccoli piece and a scattering of greens.
By now my friend was assessing the beef from his combo plate. “Stick to the chicken,” he said with a scowl, “The beef is dry and chewy.”
I handed him one of my imperial rolls. He bit into the tightly wrapped and lightly browned roll.
“Wow!” he mumbled his mouth full of roll. “This is the best roll in town!”
Really not believing his praise, I raised an imperial roll to my lips and bit in. Fresh vegetables, still brightly colored and crisp, were bursting with flavor inside the deep-fried roll, which wasn’t greasy at all. This was where the veggies were!
Impressed, my friend ordered more. The restaurant sells the imperial rolls as à la carte items at $1.18 each, and they are the worth every penny.
We also ordered one more item on the sparse menu: the chicken curry and vegetables ($5.50). Wedges of potato intact with skins, carrots and chicken in a mild yellow curry sauce were served with white rice. The flavor was a nice change from the teriyaki sauce of the other meals. The curry was creamy and delicious, with just a tinge of spicy heat and the veggies in this dish were in ample supply.
The location of Teriyaki House is convenient for those “starving students” thriving in the multiple apartment complexes nearby. A chicken teriyaki bowl serves as an alternative to the cheap and filling burrito that often is the quick fast-food meal in town. Stick to the charbroiled chicken dishes or the curry and don’t miss out on the imperial rolls.