Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Shogun Steak House

1201 Airway Blvd.
El Paso, TX
(915) 775-1282

Shogun Steak House was built on people's perception of Japanese food as being cooked over a teppan grill with the requisite knife throwing show, sometimes accompanied by shooting flames as oil is poured on the hot grill. In operation for well over a decade, Shogun was one of the pioneers of El Paso restaurants that brought ethnic food not associated with Mexico. Even pioneers need to stay in business, though, and Shogun has not as yet ventured too far into the realm of traditional Japanese cuisine beyond the teppan grill.

Even the owner admits that the teppan grill does not come from Japan, but from Hawaii. In the days when I was a strict vegetarian I used to avail myself frequently of the Grilled Vegetables cooked over the teppan grill. Seasoned with Japanese flavoring and dipped in ginger sauce, this is one of the best lunches in east El Paso. The major down sides are the cost and the fact that Shogun, like many El Paso restaurants, does not seem to be aware of the fact that many people have only an hour for lunch, including the time it takes to travel to and from the restaurant. While many people seemed to enjoy the show the chefs put on while cooking, I always wanted to avoid sitting around the gill, especially in the days before the city instituted the smoking ban in restaurants.

The issues of feeling uncomfortable in the restaurant have largely been resolved because of the fact that there is no smoking allowed and customers may sit at the sushi bar or the few tables in front if they do not wish to sit at the grill. It is probably still advisable to avoid Shogun if you are on a tight lunch schedule, though.

The sushi bar itself is relatively new, and on a recent visit I discovered that efforts have been made by the owner to bring in a qualified sushi chef (by this, I mean a real chef that will go beyond California rolls, and prepare the traditional nigiri and other Japanese style sushi). I tried some Salmon Sushi that had been freshly prepared that day, and found it to be quite impressive, at least by Southwest standards. Made with wild, not farmed salmon, it had a rich salmon flavor that I like, but perhaps those who prefer mild white fish would not embrace quite as much. Quite a few varieties of sushi are available, though, so there should be something for just about all tastes. It did seem to be quite fresh, and I did not perceive any of the fish beginning to spoil as I have found at other places that call themselves sushi restaurants.

In trying the grilled meats I have not found them as enjoyable as the vegetables. The Teriyaki Chicken is cooked on the teppan grill, and is served with the same delicious ginger sauce and fried rice as the vegetable dish. The cooking style of the chicken, though, has little resemblance to traditional Japanese cuisine, with the teriyaki sauce being cooked into the meat instead of poured on top as I have found in the Japanese restaurants most people say are "authentic" (such as in Seattle). While I appreciated that fact that Shogun's cooking style allowed for dipping the meat into the ginger sauce for added flavor, I thought it did not reach the level of flavor I have found in the more traditional restaurants. Further, I have gotten a mild MSG reaction from the food, although not at the level of some of the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that use massive amounts of MSG. Since I never had this problem with the grilled vegetables, I would say this is another reason to either stick with eating vegetarian or ordering sushi.

In my opinion Shogun is far from being an authentic Japanese restaurant. Nevertheless, it does provide some good Asian meals that provide an alternative to some of the more fat laden, less healthy offerings at many of El Paso's other restaurants.



Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Green (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Special Features: Teppan Grill

Most Recent Visit
Oct. 30, 2006

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Sushi, Grilled Vegetables

Special Ratings
Grilled Vegetables:
Teriyaki Chicken:

Sushi Ratings