The Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi is no longer this area's best-kept secret.
And if attendance this past Memorial Day weekend is any indication, this summer should be a record-breaker.
Thank goodness we had 7:30 p.m. reservations for this past Saturday. We didn't arrive until about 7:50 and that was OK with the Nagoya staff, as the place was completely jam-packed. We gave them our name at the door and were seated immediately on the sushi-bar side.
I overheard talk of 60- and 90-minute waits for those without reservations.
The restaurant, which is located near the intersection of Ohio 163 and Ohio 53 in Port Clinton, is set up with a hibachi side, sushi-bar side and then some booths on the sushi side. There is also a banquet room toward the back and then a deck for outside dining near the waterfront.
My wife and I had been to Nagoya once before, in January, and sat on the hibachi side with the entire family and had a great time. The hibachi chefs are just amazing. It's more than just cooking. It's really like watching someone paint or draw or play a musical instrument. It's art.
The hibachi chef will cut and cook the food and put on a show at the same time. The children loved it when the chef would attempt to fling shrimp into their mouths.
The January experience was great and I told my in-laws later that night it was two hours where everyone was smiling and forgot about their troubles.
On Saturday, I ordered shrimp tempura and a crab egg roll. Now, I had never had either, but from the description on the menu they both looked safe. I had considered ordering another dish from the main entree menu, but am glad I didn't.
The crab egg roll consists of crab, cream cheese and asparagus lightly deep fried and served with Nagoya's secret sauce.
The shrimp tempura is shrimp and vegetables dipped in tempura butter and lightly fried.
My wife Jessica ordered the Nagoya roll, which is smoked salmon, cream cheese and crab baked with a Nagoya sauce.
I did try the Nagoya roll and it was pretty good.
She also had the spicy tuna roll, which is raw sushi. I did not try this.
A couple went with us and ordered the pesto scallops, a Nagoya roll and an eel and cucumber roll. Jesi tried some of the eel, but I did not.
My shrimp tempura and crab egg roll were excellent. I'm glad I didn't order off the main entree menu because I was stuffed after my appetizers.
Our bill was about $36, which wasn't bad, I thought.
In January, I ordered the chicken and shrimp combination and that was very good.
Another Nagoya highlight is the crowd. It's great to meet new people and see which item they are trying off the menu. It's a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere, though it is quite busy.
The most expensive item I saw on the dinner menu is the nagoya special. This dinner includes lobster tail, shrimp, scallops and filet mignon. It costs $45.
The most pricey thing on the sushi menu is the sushi boat, which can cost up to $150. All sushi is handmade to order.
My in-laws enjoy the ahi poki, which is a cold appetizer consisting of chunks of fresh tuna, cucumber, caviar and sesame seeds served on a wasabi leaf.
Another fan favorite is the yummi-yummi roll. This roll is made up of flash-fried tuna, salmon and yellowtail with cream cheese and aioli sauce.
The octopus tiradito also looked good. This dish includes sliced octopus served with a spicy yuzu sauce and fresh cilantro.
The dynamite roll and fried calamari are also popular. The dynamite roll is a California roll baked with assorted fish and spicy mayonnaise. The fried calamari is lightly battered and fried with aioli sauce.
My in-laws also swear by the grilled chilean sea bass.
The restaurant also has a fully-stocked bar with a wine list, Japanese and American beers and Japanese sake.
The dress code is casual and people of all ages were there Saturday.
Nagoya is open for lunch during the summer from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and open for dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.