Tokyo Joe — now there’s a guy who likes his dipping sauces.
In fact, at this fictitious fellow’s new southwest Fort Worth restaurant, eponymously named Tokyo Joe’s, he offers 17 dressings and sauces to complement his bevy of fast-casual Asian wares.
Normally, I’m all about the condiments. I regularly jones for Sriracha and have considered changing my middle name to “Peanut Sauce.”
But this is a little nutty, even by my standards. If you have this many sauces on your menu, maybe you have something to mask.
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This new-to-Texas Colorado concept (there are two others in the area, in Richardson and McKinney) is in the same vein as Chipotle. But where Chipotle has figured out the nuances inherent in Tex-Mex cuisine, Tokyo Joe’s misses the boat to Japan, with food that is heavy on the customization but lacking resemblance to anything “authentic,” based on the items we tried on two recent visits.
My “Resolution Bowl” ($9.50) a couple of Sundays ago had me resolving to visit my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Haltom City immediately. The bowl, a new addition to the chain’s menu, needed help that the trademarked spicy-aki sauce, a sesame-seeded-up soy sauce, could not muster.
Many of the cubes of sweet potato were raw — some pieces unattractively discolored. Other veggies (asparagus, bell pepper) tasted straight out of the freezer, watery and lacking seasoning, and browned avocado was splayed unattractively along the bowl’s edge. Puffy brown rice and white-meat chicken added nutrients but little else.
A return visit was necessary to see if the bowl was an anomaly or on par for Tokyo Joe’s kitchen.
The kids liked the peanut skewers starter ($4.25), three chargrilled pieces of white-meat chicken with a warm peanut sauce, topped with green onions and cilantro. The dish proved to be the best of the meal.
The spicy salmon poke bowl ($8.25) lacked any sort of heat, but at least the textures were there. Quarter-size nuggets of raw salmon, bathed in a light “Sriracha aioli,” were piled atop fluffy white rice and next to a quadrant of diced cucumber. Another section of the bowl had cubes of avocado and a wedge of lemon.
Midway through the surf and turf bowl ($9.95), my husband became listless and despondent. The spicy-aki sauce, again, did not salvage this middlebrow mixture of chewy steak and shrimp. Way too much rice filled the bowl, which was inappropriate in proportion (but surely cost-effective) to the stir-fry. Veggies like the mushrooms and bell peppers were sliced too thin to produce any good mouth feel.
A distraction from the food, especially for the tea-lovers among us, is the beverage station, which hospitably offers six types of iced tea, such as strawberry hibiscus, pomegranate green dragon and sugar-free sweetened.
Tokyo Joe’s also has salads and edamame, gyoza dumplings and “made to order sushi.” The only thing the veggie tofu roll ($4) did was make me flee to the exit, where, outside, the new Whole Foods Market cast a rather enticing shadow.