Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 12, 2013

Tim Preston: Recruiting help; Shogun reviewed; burgers; and Diet Ale-8-One: 5/12/13

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Despite my own impression I’ve too often asked for the input of those who read this column every Sunday, it is apparent I need to repeat the request at the top of the tale this time around.

I appreciate notes and photos from readers who enjoy getting out and finding or evaluating small businesses, and especially places to eat. In fact, I just realized it is a rare week when I don’t talk to someone who volunteers to accompany me on these missions. So, if you count yourself in that crowd this is your official invitation to contribute.

I will caution I’m not seeking anything “snarky” or overly critical, and tend to apply the philosophy that dictates “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.” At the same time, I don’t want anything sugar-coated or focused on a place where you or friends have a financial interest.

If you want to play the game, I suggest looking for unusual and out-of-the-way places as well as those in small towns local people may pass through on their journeys. It is a great treat for anyone who’s been on the road a little too long to see a sign and say, “I remember reading about that place!”

 So get out there and let me know what you find — anything from a good bologna sandwich at a country grocery store to a fine filet mignon at a chop house is fair game. I will keep your identity confidential (partially because I know there are some of you who could do this job better than I do!), and there is no pay, although I will assign titles such as “field agent” or “special investigator” when I use your comments.

And, it isn’t all about food. If you know of, or find, something like a great mechanic, gift shop or garden center you would recommend to a friend, please pass it along.

Sushi and sashimi

Ashland’s newest restaurant, Shogun Japanese Steakhouse, opened quietly for lunch Wednesday and was the talk of the town within a few hours. I stopped by long enough to get a little information and to snap a photo of the manager, although I didn’t have enough time or resources to enjoy a meal (also, my wife would have killed me for going without her). I can say the aroma inside Shogun was so incredible, it made me practically drool for at least an hour after I left.

And, I found an independent review from a new friend I met later the same day, waiting in my inbox Thursday morning.

The reader, who spends each Wednesday with another cheeseburger-loving buddy in search of the good stuff (more on that below), has an excellent five-star rating system that accounts for everything from food flavor and seating arrangements to price and portion size. Taking into consideration the fact the new restaurant had been open for less than 30 minutes when they arrived, our latest field reporter gave the place pretty good marks.

In fact, Shogun received five-of-five stars for menu variety (“very good selection”), food flavor (“good seasoning”), seating (“can be made to accommodate just about any size”) and portion size (“a good amount for lunch”).

The place also scored four stars for price, a score filed along with the comment “In the ballpark with other Hibachi-style places.”

The reviewer gave Shogun low scores for food temperature, as well as service time, although I think we’ll all agree the timing of that visit probably had a lot to do with both.

Based on the conversations I’ve heard, I also have to say I had no idea how many in this area are unabashed fans of sushi. From that crowd, early reviews of Shogun’s sushi and sashimi have also been excellent.

Oddly, I’ve heard absolutely nothing about the steaks at Shogun.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit shogunfamily.com or call (606) 324-8888.

12-pack wanted

A reader from the Ashland area has hit a point of frustration in finding a favorite beverage in a favorite container at local grocery stores and I promised I would do whatever I could to help.

Bear in mind that I’ve (so far) had no luck getting my latest most-favorite hot sauce on those store shelves, but I did give my word to try.

The reader had already exhausted his own efforts before contacting me, and reports he is simply trying to get Diet Ale-8-One in the 12-pack of cans stocked at stores in Greenup, Boyd, Carter and Elliott counties. The product is distributed by Coca-Cola’s people in Portsmouth, he said, and it seems a simple request to have them stock the stuff on their trucks before they make their rounds.

He requests that others who appreciate Diet Ale-8-One in cans ask their favorite grocery store manager to stock the product in 12-packs, and to zip out an email to joeadams@coca-cola.com with the same request.

And, the next time I see him I promise to ask why he likes that product in cans better than bottles.

Cheeseburger talk

The cheeseburger hunters who jumped on the chance to get in one the first wave of customers at the Japanese Steakhouse were actually on their way to Gold Star Chili last week. Like myself, the writer said they’ve concluded the chili parlor’s burgers are a bit of a “best-kept secret” around here, and they had planned to take advantage “Deal Day” at the Cincinnati-style restaurant.

These adventurers are obviously unafraid of a little travel time while seeking the good stuff, as indicated by the note within a note stating they are also fans of the Smashburgers at the Dairy Cheer in Pikeville.

If I ever get a chance to do it, I would thoroughly enjoy spending some future Wednesday on the prowl with these guys.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.