Yamato Steak House of Japan is one of the most popular restaurants in Carbondale for a number of very valid reasons. The restaurant offers authentic Japanese cuisine made from only the freshest ingredients. The staff is friendly and attentive. And the restaurant is clean and inviting with a relaxed atmosphere.

But the real reason that customers return again and again is because they always leave happy, for all of the aforementioned reasons, of course, but mainly because of the quality of the food — the wonderfully complicated tastes of authentic Japanese dishes — and the restaurant’s extensive menu, with lots of affordable choices for both lunch and dinner.

Yes, there are plenty of appetizers and several soups and salads, including the traditional spring rolls, stir-fried noodles and batter-dipped, deep-fried tempura dishes; Miso, a soybean soup with bean curd, seaweed and scallops; and crabmeat salad.

But what Yamato’s is known for, what the customers keep coming back for are the entrees cooked on the Hibachi — the Japanese traditional charcoal grill — and the sushi.

Those popular Hibachi dinner entrees include vegetable, chicken, shrimp, scallops, lobster, snapper, swordfish, steak dinners and several combination dinners. The meal includes miso soup, salad, fried rice, zucchini, onions and mushrooms. Dinners cost between and $8.99 and $25.99.

But if it’s the sushi you’re after, you have hit the jackpot. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, and the presentation and taste of what you’re about to be served.

You can get two pieces of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, tilapia, clam, octopus, crab, eel, egg, shrimp or squid sushi for $4.99. But that’s just a few of a myriad of choices for the sushi enthusiast.

You can skip the extras and go straight for the sushi bar entrees — seven different plates of sushi and/or sashimi (thinly sliced raw meat) — served with miso soup and salad. Prices range from $16.99 for seven pieces of sushi and a California roll to $48.99 for Sushi and Sashimi for Two that includes 16 pieces of sashimi, 12 pieces of sushi, a dragon roll and a California roll.

Or you can sort through Yamato’s 19 different seaweed-wrapped sushi rolls, including a spicy crab stick roll dipped in tempura batter and deep fried for $7.49 and “regional varieties” that include a Boston roll with shrimp, lettuce and mayo; a Philadelphia Roll with salmon, cream cheese and green onions for $7.99; and a Mexican Roll with cucumber and tuna topped with a spicy sauce for $9.99.

There’s a sushi roll special — two for $10.99 or three for $14.99 — but that isn’t to be confused with the “special sushi rolls,” 26 additional varieties including the Crazy Spider Roll with soft shell crab, mango, avocado, fresh tuna and “spider mayo eel sauce” ($14.49); and the Dragon roll with deep-fried shrimp and cucumber topped with eel, avocado and eel and spicy sauces ($12.49).

Yamato also serves seven different vegetarian rolls, including an asparagus, an avocado and a cucumber roll for $5.99 each.

Come for lunch and enjoy one of the sushi lunch specials or hibachi lunch specials, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Or order a Japanese traditional Bento Box lunch to go. Yamato offers seven teriyaki varieties from vegetable to chicken, steak or seafood. The lunch includes four California rolls, fried rice, glazed carrot, broccoli and miso soup. Prices range from $8.99 to $12.59 for Teriyaki Filet Mignon.

They offer Bento Box dinners, too, 10 varieties. They include six California Rolls, fried rice, tempura vegetable, a spring roll, some miso soup and a salad. Prices range from $11.99 to $18.99.

Don’t be afraid to bring the kids. Their meals, served with rice and carrots, cost from $7.59 for the chicken meal to $10.59 for the filet mignon meal.

And if you have any room left, try their ice cream tempura or fried banana dishes for dessert. They’re all less than $5.

Reviews on Facebook are glowing — “Menu has a lot to choose from,” “Great staff and quick service,” and “Absolutely my favorite place” — but the praise for their sushi goes on and on and on. Here are just a few: “Sushi is awesome,” “Amazing sushi with the freshest fish,” “Hands down best sushi in Southern Illinois. Every bite is super flavorful!” and “Sushi chef is an artist!” and “Yamato is now my favorite place to get sushi!”

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