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Niko Teriyaki

RestaurantsOlympia

Teriyaki places have their ups and, more often than not, downs. Too many have a decided semi-glorified fast-food vibe, with sauces so sticky-sweet they are enough so to exhaust the palate.

Niko is a step up from that. It’s not going to blow you out of the water, but the speed of service and relative quality of food are laudable.

This is likely the fastest service I’ve seen outside of a bona fide fast-food place. The efficiency is of rigid precision, with everything running like a well-oiled machine: You’re seated, have a quick look over the menu — a predictable one, which is fine for this type of spot — and your order is taken.

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I sampled the teriyaki sauce from a bottle before my spicy chicken arrived. It held its own — sweet, but not sickeningly so, and just a delicate kick toward the end. Not super exciting, I suppose, but I’m OK with anything not flirting with a molasses profile.

The meal arrived swiftly, with an actual spicy chicken. The four out of five-star sauce burnt pleasantly — as long as you find a burn pleasant — and the teriyaki flavors blended well with it. The accompanying rice and lettuce helped cool everything down, though the former could have used some character itself. If you weren’t eating anything spicy, you’d probably want to douse it with some sauce, which would make the meal a bit too teriyaki-y for my liking.

The fried tofu was not bad. Lightly battered, and quasi-creamy inside made for more than an acceptable vegetarian option.

And as we finished up, boxes for leftovers hit the table. The check had already been delivered with the meal. I appreciate that kind of efficiency during lunch hour, which is the time of day I would recommend hitting Niko. It might all move a bit too fast if you were looking for a more relaxing meal. When in a time crunch, though? The relative quality of food is good enough to be recommended when paired with this type of service.