The garlic steak (a fat, bone-in ribeye) came on a large sizzling platter, along with a handful of well-browned garlic cloves and a thick pat of melting garlic-herb butter. Some bearded Asian dude wearing chunky rings, would bring it to the table and cut the steak into large chunks. He never cut the steak into truly bite-size pieces, and he didn't have much of a personality, but I loved the way he said "garlic steak". His accent made "garlic" sound like "gaah-lick".
Because of the garlic steak, I never had opportunity to order too many other dishes. Other than caprese salad, some kind of garlic pasta, and garlic fried chicken, I don't remember much else on the menu. And unless I fly to Japan, it's unlikely that I'll ever have food at Ninniku-ya again.
When we have steak at home, I usually leave it up to the cook to decide on the preparation. Mr. Dependable was a hibachi steak person...steaks, cooked on the grill only. The Help usually does a 2-step preparation...sear on the range in a cast iron pan with grates, then finish in the oven. I think he learned that method from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. The Help will sometimes make a red wine pan sauce to go with the steaks. Neither Mr. Dependable nor The Help has ever done a garlic steak like Ninniku-ya. Disclaimer: The Help makes an excellent steak, but I'm certain he would readily admit that he does not make a steak like Ninniku-ya either, nor does he hack up the steak while wearing chunky rings.
I need to come clean on something. I have never cooked a steak. Honest! With all the cooking I've done, I have never cooked a steak (other than a sliced up flank steak or a chuck steak cut into cubes for beef barley soup). I am not kidding. I find the hibachi daunting, whether it's a gas grill or a charcoal grill. I might try the range/oven method, but I would not know where to begin.
Now that I have convinced myself I want to eat a Ninniku-ya garlic steak, I will need to accept disappointment. You will need to accept disappointment too. For the past five paragraphs, I have extolled the goodness of the Ninniku-ya garlic steak, however I am unable to make a copycat of the steak. I apologize if I misled you into thinking there would be a garlic steak recipe waiting at the end of the rainbow. There is no such recipe in my arsenal at the moment.
The only "garlic" dish I can make is garlic fried chicken. Thanks to a recipe shared by a former coworker when I worked in Honolulu, I make a mean ass garlic fried chicken. The awesome garlic flavor comes from garlic powder in the coating as well as sliced garlic cloves infusing the frying oil. The out of this world garlic flavor is smooth (unlike the jarring garlic calamari I had at some restaurant on Queen Anne Hill (I cannot remember the name of the restaurant, but it was in a cluster with several restaurants, including Jake O'Shaughnessy's in the old Hansen Baking Company) in Seattle. If you have an affinity for garlic, this recipe will surely please your taste buds. And if you are an attention seeker, try bringing this to a party. You will be hounded for the recipe all night long.
click on recipe title for printable recipe
Fried Garlic Chicken
Fried Garlic Chicken
2-2 1/2 lbs chicken wings, disjointed, tips discarded
2 eggs, beaten
1 c milk
1 c flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp black pepper, divided
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c butter, melted
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
Combine eggs and milk. Pour into a square pan. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat. Set aside. In a gallon-size ziploc bag, combine flour, garlic powder, garlic salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and thyme. Drain chicken and coat with flour mixture. Heat 1" of oil in a skillet (360 degrees). Fry garlic until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain. Fry chicken pieces until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place chicken pieces in an oven-proof dish in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. While chicken is baking, prepare sauce by combining butter, parsley, salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and fried garlic slices. Pour over chicken and serve.