Mercy Baron 9:30 p.m., July 29
Rest assured, no cars are dismantled at this Mission Beach teriyaki spot.
Compared to the bar- and nightclub-saturated stretches at both ends of Mission Boulevard, the northern sections of Mission Beach are heavily residential, with apartment patios running right up to the sidewalks along the busy thoroughfare. There’s some room for restaus, however, and the Chop Shop teriyaki grill is the relatively new kid in town. Bright, red paint and a bold graphic of a meat cleaver make the shop pop out from the surrounding buildings and the anonymity of the surrounding blocks.
While there isn’t much to look at save passing cars and pedestrians, the patio at Chop Shop lends the place some credibility as a hangout spot on nice evenings. I liked that the only seating outside was along the railing, as though the restaurant wanted to force guests to engage with the passing world instead of just bending over a table. Sometimes, a mandatory chill-out is just the right thing.
Teriyaki dishes compose most of the simple menu. “Plates” have teriyaki, rice, and side dishes. “Bowls” are just teriyaki over rice and a little bit cheaper. Yakisoba sitr-fry and fried rice dishes have the same options for protein as the teriyaki dishes (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, and veggies). Other, random dishes like ahi tuna sliders ($12) and edamame hummus ($5) round out the menu.
I tried a chicken teriyaki plate with rice, salad (drenched in a pungent, miso-flavored dressing), and fried gyoza on the side for $11.50 and received a huge plate of food. I ate it all, like a boss, but it was a lot of food for the money, mostly because it had a high ratio of meat to sides. I could have had quinoa or fried rice instead of the big scoops of plain, white rice, but I think the contrast between the sweet, salty glaze that smothered the chicken and the palate cleansing starchiness of the rice was spot on.
Teriyaki’s not a complicated art and the Chop Shop doesn’t try to make it more so. It’s a commendable alternative to burritos or pizza, and it’s definitely a shade more health conscious than either one.
3852 Mission Boulevard
Open daily 11-9