Rock Lobster Aims For Good Food And ‘the Experience’ SanTan Sun News

Rock Lobster Aims For Good Food And ‘the Experience’

October 23rd, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Rock Lobster Aims For Good Food And ‘the Experience’
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By Colleen Sparks

Managing Editor

Celebrations and happy hours are lively when diners savor the spicy and sweet seafood and meat dishes at a popular Japanese-fusion restaurant in Ocotillo.

So say customers and general manager Tony Gonzales of Rock Lobster Teppan, Sushi, Sake on West Queen Creek Road just east of Price Road and next door to Humble Pie – Pizza, Wine and Spirits.

They say they love the many choices and happy hour specials for sushi, seafood and steak and the restaurant also has the recipe for fun.

Originally opened in 2011 as The Sushi Room, the restaurant later became Rock Lobster and added the teppanyaki items, where a chef makes a show of cooking Japanese cuisine on an iron griddle in front of customers.

Diners watch flames shoot into the air when the chef lights the griddle and get an up-close look at the sizzling hibachi steak, filet mignon, lobster, shrimp, chicken and other food cooking.

The chef playfully tosses food at diners and chats with them during the cooking process. The word teppanyaki comes from the word teppan, which means iron plate.

The sushi and variety of lunch specials are also well-liked at the restaurant owned by Humble Family Restaurants, which also owns Humble Pie – Pizza, Wine and Spirits, as well as CHoP Steak Seafood & Burger Bar and The Living Room Wine Café & Lounge.

“The food’s good but honestly it’s more the experience, the way we treat them,” Gonzales said. “We are definitely a lively, fun place to be. Our fish is fresh. We get it every single day. People love coming here and hanging out.”

Sushi is a crowd-pleaser at Rock Lobster, which offers half off the regular price on many of the sushi rolls on the menu all day Mondays and Thursdays and also during happy hours.

Gonzales said the most popular sushi roll is the Poppin, which is described as a “wicked roll,” covered with tempura shrimp and scallop, tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce and completed with eel sauce. It’s ordinarily $15 but $7.75 during happy hour.

Another favorite among the sushi rolls is the K.I.G., which has shrimp tempura, spicy crab and cream cheese, and on top spicy tuna, jalapenos, eel sauce and spicy aioli. The roll is $15.50 regularly but $7.75 during happy hour.

Gonzales said another well-liked sushi roll is Wicked, which has spicy crab mixed with jalapeno and cilantro, as well as avocado and crunchies and sweet Thai chili on top. The regular price is $12, but customers can get the Wicked roll for half off or $6 during happy hour.

Rock Lobster has a big selection of alcoholic beverages, including different types of sake, beer, wine and cocktails. A small, traditional hot sake is $4 ordinarily and a large one is $8. During happy hour, customers can get a small, traditional hot sake for $2 and a large, traditional hot sake for $4.

A 22-ounce, draft Kirin or Kirin Light beer is normally $8 but $6 during happy hour. The chili mango martini, which has Three Olives citrus vodka, mango liquer, jalapeno syrup and cayenne is $10 usually but $8 during happy hour.

Gonzales said customers also are often eager to gobble up the Lollipop roll, which combines assorted fresh sashimi, spicy crab and avocado rolled in cucumber and topped with siracha, masago and ponzu sauce. The Lollipop is always $16.

Sushi fans also like the strawberry butterfish roll with a little sweet taste, Gonzales said. It has butterfish, crab mix and avocado and is covered with strawberries and a sweet ponzu sauce.

Rock Lobster customers are also quick to grab the California and California Special sushi rolls, Gonzales said. The California roll has crab mix, avocado and cucumber.

The California special also has crab mix and avocado, but also has cream cheese and is covered with Yamafuku (potato starch crunchies), as well as eel sauce.

Customers praised the sushi selection at Rock Lobster in Facebook’s Living Chandler page.

“We felt they had some different and inventive sushi roll combinations,” Stacia Stanley posted. “Also, nothing tasted fishy at all, so you could tell it was on the fresher side.”

Brett Denton posted on the Living Chandler page he feels Rock Lobster is “very good.”

“Great professional light hearted service and the food is always fresh and delicious,” Denton wrote. “The prices are fair for the portions you receive and the chimichanga (rolls)…are amazing.”

The chimichanga rolls have spicy crab, crab stick, avocado tempura fried and eel sauce, spicy aioli and siracha on the top.

Jessica Klein is also a fan.

“Food is amazing,” Klein posted on Facebook. “Love the sushi rolls. My daughter loves the kids chicken tenders and French fries and is super picky. We also had the orange beef which is so yummy too.”

Rock Lobster won the “Best Sushi” award in the East Valley Tribune’s “Best of Chandler” this year and last. The restaurant also won the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Seafood/Sushi from Lifestyle publications.

Gonzales said customers enjoy the great deals during lunch at Rock Lobster.

“Our lunch specials are awesome,” he said.

The Bento Box gives customers “a little bit of everything” for lunch, Gonzales said.

Available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, each Bento Box is $12 and comes with a three-piece California roll, mixed greens, miso soup and squid salad, then customers choose which of the main entrees they want.

A chicken teriyaki Bento Box has grilled chicken breast along with sweet teriyaki sauce over rice. Salmon teriyaki, Korean BBQ beef, chicken katsu and shrimp and veggie tempura are the other choices for the main dishes in the Bento Boxes.

Another lunch special is the sushi lunch 1 that has mixed greens or miso soup, along with a California roll, one-piece tuna, salmon and shrimp nigiri for $12.

Rock Lobster also has lots of night specials. The teppan date night special on Wednesday nights gives customers two entrées, two soups and two salads for $40.

Each pair can choose from hibachi steak, shrimp, chicken or scallops for their entrée. The sushi date night special, also on Wednesdays is $30 for one starter, two soups or salads and two sushi rolls. Diners can choose edamame, fried ika, and chicken or veggie egg rolls as their starters.

A reverse happy hour, starting at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, also offers deals on drinks and food.

The restaurant lights up the night with the teppanyaki, which begins at 5 p.m. every day. Customers are served at the teppanyaki tables every 40 minutes after that, and reservations are encouraged as it fills up quickly, Gonzales said.

The samurai meal is one of the especially popular teppanyaki choices, he said. It comes with lobster tail and customers’ choice of shrimp, chicken, filet mignon, scallops or New York strip. Each teppanyaki entrée comes with a shrimp starter, teppan soup and steamed rice. The samurai meal is $52. Sometimes couples will share the samurai or other meals and there is an $8 split entrée fee.

Another well-liked entrée on the teppanyaki menu is the shoguns, which comes with lobster tail and filet mignon or New York strip and a choice of shrimp, chicken, calamari or scallops, as well as the usual starter, soup and steamed rice. The shoguns is $60.

Customers can substitute steamed rice for fried rice for $2.

During the “power hour,” diners can order some teppanyaki entrees for a discount. The “power hour” is at 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

During power hour, certain teppanyaki entrees cost from $17 to $24 per person. For example the chicken breast is $17 and the hibachi steak and shrimp is $22.

Diners who are vegetarians can order Tofu instead of chicken, and Rock Lobster has a gluten-free soy sauce.

Many big groups come to Rock Lobster to enjoy the teppanyaki experience, Gonzales said. The restaurant, inside and on its patio, can accommodate about 120 customers.

“On the weekends we are packed,” he said. “At night it’s very lively in here. We’re kid-friendly. Our chefs are really good with the kids.”

He said often he will feed fish in a large aquarium in the restaurant when children are at Rock Lobster.

A children’s menu offers little diners orange chicken, a teriyaki chicken bowl, chicken strips with French fries, macaroni and cheese or a kids’ California roll.

Besides the numerous sushi rolls and teppanyaki dishes, Rock Lobster also has many choices in other entrees, salads, starters and sides on the menu.

Gonzales said he loves the rock burger, which has a grilled Waygu patty with cheddar cheese, a tempura onion ring, lettuce, tomato, chipotle aioli and either crispy or sweet potato fries. Customers also love the RL salmon, which is a grilled salmon filet with togarashi miso butter sauce over rice.

For those who want something sweet to end their meals, Rock Lobster has mochi ice cream in strawberry, chocolate and green tea flavors, as well as chocolate lava cake and fried ice cream.

The fried ice cream has cinnamon ice cream with pound cake on the outside deep-fried, topped with caramel, chocolate and whipped cream.

Rock Lobster is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Information: rocklobsterrocks.com.

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