Day 254: Yamato Hibachi Grill & Sushi Buffet

Yamato e

*Updated 2/13/15: Yamato in Joplin has, unfortunately, closed since this blog post.

One of the most fun experiences this year has been trying out new restaurants as they open in the Joplin area. Many favorites have reopened this year, after being destroyed in the tornado. It has been a joy to welcome them back. And, there has been a great variety of restaurants to appear in Joplin for the first time. It has been wonderful to welcome these new comers.

Tonight, eight of us did a group first. I love that my family so readily tries new things along with me. We checked out the new-to-Joplin Yamato Hibachi Grill & Sushi Buffet, located at 510 S Range Line.

Yamato meal e

Any restaurant with the word “sushi” in the name appeals to me. I looked forward to seeing what Yamato had to offer. I picked up grandson Dayan from school and we hung out until time to gather Greg and Adriel and meet the others at the restaurant. Elissa, Linda, and my mom and step dad all arrived ahead of us and were seated at a table. Off we went, to check out the buffet.

It was an impressive buffet! A huge rectangular section occupied the middle of the restaurant, with plate after plate of hot dishes, containing seafood, pork, beef, chicken and a few surprises like frog legs. The food was kept warm over burners. For those preferring American food, there was also a great selection of favorites such as macaroni & cheese, fried chicken wings and barbeque chicken. Also present was a sushi and sashimi bar with an amazing selection of tasty bites, a soup and salad bar, a raw food section for the grill, and a fruit and dessert bar, with a chocolate fountain.

Yamato Dayan and Mimi e

Yamato Dayan Mimi Walter e

The fun thing about a buffet is also the difficulty….so many choices, only so much one can eat! We took turns surveying the selections and everyone exclaimed over each other’s heaped plates when we returned to the table. I focused on sushi. It was delicious! I have yet to try sashimi but will experience that delicacy sometime this year, for another first.

After the sushi, I ventured back out to look for dishes that are out of the ordinary for me. I didn’t make a big deal about it, because one of my daughters, who shall remain anonymous, is squeamish about certain meats, but I tried the grilled squid tonight and found it to be very tasty! I quietly enjoyed my meal. I was pleased to see Dayan try the salmon and a couple of other foods that were new to him.

As always, when any members of my family gather together to eat, the best part of the meal is the conversation and laughter that circles the table. I deeply love and appreciate my close knit family. September is a big birthday month, for us. I look forward to more opportunities to gather together and celebrate!

Yamato Dayan and Yaya e2

Day 195: Shrimp Quesadilla at El Charro in Carthage

El Charro Carthage e

What a busy day today, meeting with clients and making phone calls and getting mulch down in the newest part of the garden. In between meeting my last two clients for the day, I had the opportunity to have dinner with my son Nate, his fiancé Megan, and their three delightful children at El Charro in Carthage. I had not eaten at this El Charro before, and to really make it a good first, I tried a new dish there, shrimp quesadilla.

I was missing my son and his family. With their busy schedules and mine, it had been too long since I’d seen them and hugged on the kids. It was great to get to be with them, and fun to go to dinner together. I don’t believe I’ve had dinner with this little group by myself before. We often have family dinners for someone’s birthday, where the whole group gathers. But this was special, too, having an intimate dinner.

I rode with the family in the car to El Charro and Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I sat in the back and chatted. I loved hearing the kids’ news and stories and listening to what’s important to them. We settled in at the restaurant and ordered dinner. These are precious times. I remember what it is like as a parent. Someone needs to use the bathroom, everyone has something special that they want for dinner, each child has something to say. Like Nate and Megan, I had three kids and they can keep you busy!

El Charro dinner e

The wonderful thing about being the grandparent, the Yaya in this case, is that having a boisterous, everyone telling stories at once kind of dinner is great fun for me. It brings back memories of my own young family. And having raised those kids and knowing how fast the time goes by, it reminds me that these children will grow up just as fast. All too soon, they won’t discuss who gets to sit by Yaya in the car or at the restaurant. They won’t be so eager to tell me their stories and they will be embarrassed to hold my hand. And I definitely won’t be able to pick up each one for a hug and a kiss.

Tonight, I didn’t mind escorting the kids to the restrooms, twice each. Or sharing my rice. Or wiping up drips of queso. These children with their bright little faces, curious minds and their open, loving hearts bring me great joy. Nate and Megan are amazing parents and they have every right to be proud of their offspring. I’m proud of them, as parents.

And, the shrimp quesadilla was excellent! Plump shrimp and sautéed onions and green peppers made a delicious and healthy dinner. I’d have this unusual quesadilla again. The restaurant offered friendly service and our meals arrived promptly. We had a fun, engaging meal with lots of interesting conversations and no one, not even me, spilled a drink or even dropped a fork!

Before heading back to Joplin and meeting with my last client, I drew pictures on the driveway with colored chalk, traced around each child as they lay on the driveway, and participated in car races with Hot Wheels. Oh, the incredible joys of summer and childhood. When I’m with my grandchildren, I get to experience both.

El Charro group e

Day 74: Dinner at Cici’s Pizza


Today’s first was a fun family outing to the newly opened Cici’s Pizza for dinner! Eleven of us took advantage of the Opening Special of $5 for the buffet. We weren’t the only ones excited about welcoming Cici’s back to Joplin….the line was out the door when we arrived.

Cici’s Pizza was always a popular Joplin restaurant. They served up pasta, salad, soup and a variety of pizzas, buffet style, for a very reasonable price. You could find all your favorite pizzas there plus a few specialties like Buffalo Wing Pizza and several dessert pizzas. The cinnamon rolls not only looked and smelled good, they tasted delicious!

Our Cici’s Pizza was one of the restaurants that was destroyed the day of the May 2011 tornado. And with the reopening taking place almost three years later, it has been a very long wait for them to come back! In fact, there was some concern that Cici’s would not return. Rumors alternated between saying the pizza place was not going to be in Joplin again to talk about its impending opening. It was only a couple of months ago, when I spotted the “Now Hiring” signs fluttering in front of its new location that I finally believed Cici’s was on the way back!

We enjoyed our dinner, in spite of the crowd. The line moved quickly and the manager met each group as they paid and found tables to dine at. That was no small task for our large group, but he made it happen. Being on my detox diet, I chose to eat salad and a chicken soup with a clear broth. I didn’t feel deprived at all! I did walk down the buffet though, to see what was being offered. It was a great selection, although with the number of diners present, those pizzas didn’t last long! I saw a pizza I had never seen before….a macaroni & cheese pizza! My niece’s husband, Jon, declared it good. He said it tasted like macaroni & cheese on flatbread!

I’m thrilled Cici’s has returned to Joplin. Each business, or restaurant, that reopens is a testament to the determination that has defined Joplin’s recovery. We can be knocked down, we can lose what is dear to us, but we cannot be kept down. What was lost can be rebuilt, when it is brick and mortar. We forever remember those dear souls who left us too soon. As we rise again, build again, move forward, their Spirit is interwoven with the Spirit of Hope that is Joplin.