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“Worth the effort... truly!”

Gojo Japanese Steak House
Ranked #657 of 1,411 Restaurants in Kansas City
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: Japanese, Asian, Steakhouse
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Independence, Missouri
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Worth the effort... truly!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 29, 2012

Gojo Japanese Steakhouse has to be one of KC's strangest treasures. Situated on Broadway at the edge of Westport near the Plaza, the location is exceptionally convenient, especially with its off-street parking behind the building. But get there early on weekends as it fills up quickly. They do take reservations (recommended), but seating is always contingent on when an entire table is available, and the show doesn't start until the table is full. Still, though, it’s worth it.

Despite the building's poor repair (some of which was designed to look that way and some of which is just plain age) and the interior dinge and must (from the fountain), it is a strangely compelling experience. The only surface areas that feel clean to the touch are the seats (not the whole chair, just the seat cushion and back) and the food-use surfaces... and yes, the restaurant has been closed for code violations. But still....

Yes, it is true that some of the chefs are more entertaining than others... and sometimes they will gauge their show depending on the apparent enthusiasm of the diners at your table: some folks are just there to eat and aren't interested in trying to catch their appetizer with their mouth in midair (besides, that last shrimp is pretty rubbery by the time he's flattened it out to make it "aerodynamic"). But still....

No, it's not all authentic Japanese foodstuffs, but it IS prepared in authentic teppanyaki style… including smoke from grease fires. Fortunately, before you eat they bring out hot, damp washcloths to cleanse your hands. The feel of that clean warmth on your skin magically wipes away all those earlier thoughts of dinginess, allowing you to enjoy your meal free of sanitary inhibitions. The food is amazing and the portions are large, and if you leave there hungry it’s because you didn't clean your plate like a good kid.

Generally there are five courses consisting of a warm broth "soup," a cold lettuce salad with a delightful ginger-peanut dressing, a hot shrimp and mushroom appetizer (yes, it IS hollandaise sauce--I asked the chefs for years what it was before one of them would call it anything besides "Yellow Sauce"), your entree consisting of the cooked animal flesh of your choice* plus a small bowl of steamed rice (DO have them put the infamous Yellow Sauce on it if you aren't into the plain taste of steamed rice), a large "side" of fried potatoes, carrots, onions, and mung bean sprouts (and depending on the season, zucchini and/or yellow squash), and finally--as if you had any room left in your stomach--a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. I believe hot oolong tea comes with the meal, but if you want a different beverage you have to pay extra for it.

I have no idea how old this restaurant is. Neither their building nor their menu has changed much over the years and neither has the quality of their food. I've been going there since the early 1980's when I was in college. We would save our work-study money to go downtown two or three times a semester to a "nice" restaurant… and we kept going back to Gojo's.

We also used to go to the Colony Steakhouse & Lobster Pot (back when it was the only reason to go to Union Station). Now the Lobster Pot is MIA (I had heard they moved out to Jo. Co., KS, but couldn't locate a listing for them in the online Yellow Pages [the Melting Pot comes up instead... quite yummy with great ambiance but heinously overpriced]) but Gojo's is still going strong thirty years later. That, in and of itself, speaks more than anything to the consistent quality of this establishment’s food.

Go there. Expect to eat in the smokey atmosphere of a dank dungeon. Enjoy the show. Wash your hands. Eat amazing food 'til you pop. Get a good deal for your money. If you do the leftover thing, be sure to ask for boxes. Experience one of Kansas City's enduring treasures... and go back again. It's worth it!

*A vegetarian version is available, but it will be cooked with all the other food on the grill, so if you're twitchy about that, this would not be the best place for you (Vegans, stay well away!).

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank MartinwoodForest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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93 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Olathe, Kansas, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Lots of fun”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2012

One of our favorites! Good cheap food & fun! Always interesting people to dine with & the cooks put on a show!

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
Thank Christine R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liberty, Missouri
Level Contributor
17 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Extra Yelow Sauce...Please!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2012

This is one of the best restaurants in Kansas City!! You are first served a salad, followed by soup, then a shrimp dish. While they are cooking your main dish infront of you, they will toss shrimp in the air for you to "hopefully" catch in your mouth. Make sure it doesn't land in your drink as it did in mine once, and refills are NOT free...Only downside to this place! LOVE IT!!

  • Visited May 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Melissab81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
“Catch the shrimp, singe your eyebrows, and roll out as a very happy customer!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 4, 2012

A Kansas City classic. Experience is very consistent. The entertaining chefs cook your food right in front of you. I recommend the shrimp. Decor is dated but it creates a unique atmosphere that makes for a memorable evening. Only open for dinner, its a great place for a date or a large gathering. Always crowded so get there early or make a reservation. And enjoy the yellow sauce!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Melsid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas
Level Contributor
17 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“pretty neat to see”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 1, 2012

This was the first time I had been to a Japanese steak house where they cook in front of you. It was a great atmosphere, We sat with 2 other groups of people around the table. I must say I was expecting a little more from the chef, and relized after he left that he just was not that much for a show. The chef next to us was really putting on a show for his table. So that part was a little disapointing.
But overall it was very nice. The food was very good, all of our party had the shrimp and steak. One lady across from us had the lobster which also looked great. They start you off with a soup that is very light but good, then a house salad with their own dressing, not sure what it was. Then the rice comes, with or without holindase sauce, They also had a spinich sauce which was very good, and then the main meal part,and finish off with sherbert. It was fun and I would go back again for the food and to see if I could get a different chef,,,although you dont get to choose. It would be nice to have the whole table of people you knew,,,it seats 10.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank palmtree74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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