Sometimes, smaller is better.
At Bradley Beach’s Osaka at the Station, patrons can converse without shouting—and still enjoy hibachi, tempura, sushi, teriyaki and the all of the traditional cuisine associated with Land of the Rising Sun.
After one too many trips to the larger and noisier Japanese steakhouses that dot Monmouth County’s state highways, our party immediately embraced the peace and tranquility that one can sense upon entering the ten-year-old storefront eatery at 604 Main Street.
A sushi bar with seating for six and a single dining area with ten tables sufficiently spaced to allow for private conversations at each table were a sight for sore eyes. It was quite a departure from the sardine-like conditions in other area Japanese restaurants where the tables are so close together, one can hear a conversation at an adjacent table. Osaka’s dining room can comfortably seat 40 patrons, four at each table.
Absent as well were blaring big-screen televisions and eardrum-shattering music emanating from a barroom. Instead, two small televisions played in opposite corners with the volume sufficient to be heard, but without distracting one’s concentration. Our party was treated to familiar, soft classic rock as background music when we visited on Monday night.
As for aesthetics, two small Charlie Brown-like Christmas trees, one decorated with twinkling green lights and the other with multi-colored lights, created a calming a effect. And although the fish tank did not take up an entire wall as is often seen in Japanese steakhouses, we noticed a smaller version. The standard household-size tank was roomy enough for the nine rainbow-colored, exotic-looking fish inside to swim about comfortably.
For those desiring the entertainment of the utensil-twirling hibachi chefs who grill meat, fish, and vegetables as hungry diners watch, two hibachi tables are placed behind the cash register, set off from the main dining room. The hibachi area can easily seat 16 patrons.
Osaka does not have a liquor license, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own wine or beer.
A secluded patio area situated behind the restaurant is due to open next month and will be used during the summer months according to a hostess on duty.
Though that hostess also served as our waitress during our visit, the service was efficient and the food delivered quickly—seemingly within minutes of when we placed our order. We were allowed to relax and enjoy refills of green tea and conversation without the feeling of being rushed out.
During the week Osaka might only be staffed by a single waitress/hostess and one chef as was the case on Monday night. However, our hostess told us that about five employees—specifically chefs and waitresses—work during the weekends at peak hours. More employees will come on board during the summer months.
Appetizers, from either the kitchen or the sushi bar located adjacent to the entrance, are dominated by combinations of vegetables or seafood. Soups include the usual miso soup as well as a dumpling soup and a house special seafood soup.
The seafood salad, as sampled by this diner, included shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Seaweed salad and crab meat salad are also on the menu.
Sushi can be ordered as one piece or as sashimi, meaning three pieces. The varieties include mackerel, tuna, salmon, fluke, eel, octopus, and yellow tail. Prices range from $1.75 to $2.75 for individual pieces and from $3.50 to $5.75 for the sashimi.
Hand-rolled sushi, known as maki and temaki, and sampled by this diner, was delivered to the table on a white plate with the ginger garnish to the side. Varieties include avocado, cucumber, tuna, salmon, eel and avocado, California, spicy tuna, spicy yellow tail, sweet potato, and asparagus.
Most of the main entrée dishes, including the six tempura selections and three katsu dishes, are served with white rice, and a choice of house salad or soup. The tempura selections include chicken, shrimp, vegetable or a combination of seafood ranging from $14.95 to $19.95 depending on one’s selection. The katsu selections—chicken, white fish, and salmon—range from $14.95 to $16.95.
The seafood teriyaki as sampled by a fellow diner included lobster, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and vegetables for $24.95. Portion sizes were sufficient to satisfy one’s hunger without overwhelming the diner. Chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp, tofu and eggplant teriyaki are also available. A special combination known as Sea and Land Teriyaki, tagged at $23.95 which combines lobster, shrimp, steak, chicken and vegetables.
The same seafood and the sea and land combinations are also offered as hibachi entrees for two persons at $45.95 and $48.95 respectively.
Individual hibachi dinners listed include hibachi vegetables on the low end at $13.95 as well as chicken, shrimp, salmon, filet mignon and lobster at the top of the price range at $26.95.
For those desiring spicier dishes, sautéed chicken or shrimp are available with mushrooms in a spicy sauce over spinach. Other sautéed dishes include ginger chicken or beef and seafood or chicken yaki.
Brown rice can be substituted for white rice in any of the dishes, and patrons are encouraged to ask for any special combinations.
Sushi entrees, served with miso soup and a house salad range from $13.95 to $45.95 depending on the selection. Osaka’s “Special Sushi for Two” includes 10 pieces of assorted sushi, two hand-rolled items—either maki or temaki—and two chef’s special rolls.
To our surprise, the hostess brought each of us a single scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate topping after we finished our meal. We had not ordered this dessert and the menu did not indicate that dessert was included with any of the entrées. Nonetheless, we were delighted.
Located across from the Bradley Beach train station, Osaka features a lower-priced lunch menu featuring teriyaki, tempura, and the sushi bar. All of the lunch specials are served with rice and miso soup on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Take-out is also available.
Parking is available on the street near the restaurant. Osaka is open seven days a week—Mondays through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Osaka can be reached at (732) 869-0092 or (732) 869-0093. All major credit cards are accepted.