Shakey’s Pizza and I have a long history, dating all the way back to when I lived in Japan. I discovered Shakey’s in Kyoto and found it to have the best pizza in Japan, at least at that time. They had a modestly priced buffet and although they still served crazy Japanese-style pizza with mayonnaise and corn, they also had good old fashioned pepperoni and cheese. Plus they had delicious fried potatoes and Melon Fanta. Needless to say, every trip to Kyoto came with a stop at Shakey’s. Little did I know at the time that Shakey’s was not just some Japanese anomaly, but had begun in the US. At one point it was a pretty big deal in the US, but now there are more of them in Asia than in the US. Yet, it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I realized I could enjoy the Shakey’s goodness without a plane trip to Asia. Although I knew of Shakey’s in LA for awhile, I finally got the chance to check it out myself and see if it could live up to my memories.
I was able to convince some of my coworkers to join me at the location in North Hollywood to check out their Bunch of Lunch Buffet. This amazing deal was only 8 bucks and included pizza, pasta, potatoes, fried chicken and even salad (gross). I quickly learned that the potatoes I remembered so fondly were not simply called potatoes here. Instead, they were called Mojos. Rather than being sliced into stringy bits like fries, these had been sliced into circular hunks, breaded, seasoned and deep fried. This process created some pretty fantastic Mojos.
But what of the pizza?
Well although Shakey’s in Japan was the best American pizza I could get, it is certainly not the best American pizza I can get in America. But that doesn’t mean the pizza is bad. In fact, for a buffet, the pizza is pretty decent. It’s not the kind of pizza I would crave too often, but it is definitely the kind of pizza i can see myself craving when I just want to eat a butt-load of pizza. The crust is flaky, yet firm enough to hand being picked up by hand. They even had a crazy pizza that day with mac and cheese on top. Nothing beats carb on carb on cheese action.
Then there was the fried chicken. This was something I definitely didn’t remember from Japan. The breading on it was pretty decent, but the chicken itself was a bit too dry. Never fear, though, because in case of emergency dryness, every table is equipped with a beer button. Yes, a button simply made to order beer and nothing else. This was too good to be true, but since this was a work lunch, I had no chance to take advantage of it.
Finally, there were the mashed potatoes. These spuds were…well…just okay. There was nothing really wrong with the flavor except for the knowledge that you could make them yourself. From a box. Yes, they were fake. Or at least they tasted that way. If not fake, then they did a really good job of capturing the taste of faux potatoes. Even if these mashed potatoes has been good, they still would have played second potato to the Mojos.
Mojos were definitely the stars of the Shakey’s show; crispy, crunchy, flavorful and delicious. The pizza wasn’t bad and certainly didn’t hurt my memory of their pizza in Japan, but there is just too much good pizza in the country for Shakey’s to be anything more than a buffet stop at a great price.