photographs by Justin Fox Burks
With pan-Asian décor and a busy open kitchen, a new restaurant named Skewer brings traditional Japanese comfort food to Sanderlin Centre in East Memphis. Owned and operated by Gai Klaimongkol, a former chef with Bangkok Alley, the restaurant serves sushi, hearty and aromatic ramen, grilled meat and vegetables called yakitori, and donburi, rice bowls with fillings such as shrimp tempura, chopped green onion, and succulent pork, fried or roasted.
On first visit, give yourself time to absorb the ambitious menu, which lists dozens of combinations by their Japanese names. Thoughtfully, the menu defines ingredients, and the wait staff is happy to help. When I ordered Tsukemen, my server explained that the ramen’s noodles and toppings are served alongside in a separate bowl. “Use the chopsticks and dip the toppings into the broth, instead of eating it like soup,” she said.
Authenticity steers the menu at Skewer, but Klaimongkol also adapts dishes for more Americanized tastes. The restaurant’s yakitori moves well beyond Japan’s preferred chicken to include beef tenderloin, lamb, salmon, scallops, and tofu caramelized with house-made sauces. Even dessert bends a little with whipped cream snuggled near green tea ice cream and a trail of mochi, a rice-based confection that is chewy and sweet.
Closed on Monday, Skewer is otherwise open for lunch and dinner and waiting for a beer license. Look for beers that skew local and cocktails down the line.
5101 Sanderlin Ave. (901-682-9919), $-$$