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DINING WITH DENNIS R. GETTO The show must go on at Seigo’s - Hibachi chefs dazzle at Japanese steakhouse, but food remains dull

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, October 27, 2006
Author: DENNIS R. GETTO, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 

Sussex — For a minute, I was tempted to break my chopsticks apart and rub them together — a rude thing to do in a Japanese restaurant .

It’s a way of saying, "Your chopsticks are so cheap that I have to rub them together to get the splinters off." But the truth is, my chopsticks at the new Seigo’s Japanese Steakhouse did have splinters after I broke them apart.

But at least this time I could break them apart. Three nights earlier, on my first visit to the massive hibachi-style restaurant here, I had to pry them apart with my pocketknife.

I could have asked for another pair — instead, I just used my fork.

For those who’ve never tried it, hibachi dining is as much entertainment as it is dining. Diners are seated, 10 to a group, around a large steel grill. They place their orders for drinks and appetizers (some sushi is offered at Seigo’s) and those items are delivered to the tables much like opening acts of a stage play. Diners also order entrees, which come later.

The main feature begins when a chef rolls up a large cart laden with raw ingredients — onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, zucchini and shrimp — along with the meats, poultry or fish that the diners have ordered.

The show begins. Each chef has his own shtick. Some of them at Seigo’s like stir-frying the free appetizer shrimp on the steel grill and then flipping them through the air and into the open mouths of the seated diners. It makes the diners look a little like seals in a zoo.

Others are juggling artists and perform all sorts of fancy moves with brightly colored wooden salt and pepper shakers that are almost big enough to double as billy clubs.

Luckily, my dining companion and I were spared the flying shrimp routine on the night we sat at one of Seigo’s 19 hibachi tables. Instead, our chef started with a routine that I saw done at all the other tables. For lack of a better name, I’ll call it the onion volcano:

The chef took a sliced onion, separated it into rings and then set those up to look like a little igloo on the grill. Then he poured vodka and oil in the center and lighted it with a disposable plastic lighter that he pulled from his pocket. The result was a sputtering column of flame that drew oohs and aahs from almost everyone at the table.

Next he showed us some quick handwork with a spinning raw egg, which he could flip into the air (or into the top of his chef’s hat) and then catch on the end of his metal spatula without breaking it.

There was even a little contemporary artistry that seemed appropriate on Sweetest Day (when we visited). Instead of cooking our fried rice with shrimp ($6.95), green onions and eggs right away, he dumped it on the side of the grill and speedily fashioned it into the shape of a heart.

Then he made the mound come to life by slipping his spatula beneath its center and pushing the handle down at regular intervals so the heart looked like it was beating.

When the show was over, the chef got down to the business of cooking.

Seigo’s hibachi menu offers several combination plates, and we chose two, one pairing scallops and chicken ($21.50), the other filet mignon and swordfish (also $21.50).

Chicken and scallops proved the better of the two. The chicken was boned strips of breast meat, which our chef grilled quickly with a little oil and lemon. He used the same two ingredients on the scallops, but left them on the grill for a shorter period of time. When he scooped them onto the plate with that same long spatula, they tasted sweet, fresh as an ocean breeze. The chicken took longer to cook and the chef allowed it to brown lightly on the edges, a step that ensured that the center of each piece would be moist yet still thoroughly cooked.

I liked the filet mignon – chunks of buttery beef that the chef seemed to take extra care with. After applying a little soy sauce, he asked each of us who had ordered it how we liked our steak. Medium-rare came off first, followed by medium, then medium-well, at 45-second intervals.

My steak had been done perfectly, and the tinge of soy sauce enriched its meaty flavor.

I can’t say the same for my swordfish. I’m guessing that the chef overestimated the time it would take for those chunks of fish to fry on the grill, because by the time he scooped them off, they were cooked solid and hopelessly dry. I was thankful for the two dipping sauces served with the meal (one soy, the other mild mustard). Without them, that swordfish would have been awfully boring.

Dinners included a few shrimp served as an appetizer, white rice, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and bean sprouts all cooked, like the main courses, in a little oil on the grill. The only other seasonings I saw the chef use were salt, pepper and some sesame seeds.

And that detail brings up the main reason why I usually avoid hibachi-style cooking: While the ingredients are fresh and served immediately, everything has a tendency to taste the same.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t all smell the same. Halfway through our meal, I saw the chef at a nearby table take out two large lobster tails ($35 each). With its natural gray color, raw lobster isn’t overly attractive, but it does turn pleasantly pink in cooking.

The problem arose when the chef moved that lobster to a hot spot on the grill and it released an unpleasant, fishy odor that both my tablemates and I found a little nauseating. Luckily, the industrial fans housed in the hoods above each table worked pretty well. The smell disappeared in a few moments.

The rest of the hibachi meal was pretty boring. The soup served was bland broth with a few mushroom slices and green onion pieces bobbing in it. Salads were still-wet leaves of iceberg with a few tiny shreds of red cabbage and a bitter red ginger dressing. For dessert, we had the choice of orange sherbet or vanilla ice cream. (Other hibachi restaurants I’ve visited add an extra Japanese note by offering green tea ice cream.)

Yes there was sushi, but neither the spicy tuna rolls ($4.95) nor the caterpillar rolls ($9.95) we tried came close to the quality of those served in other local Japanese restaurants.

As appetizers, tempura ($8.95) was gummy and undercooked, while Japanese pork-filled dumplings ($5.50) were only average. The one appetizer that we did like was Seigo’s chicken wings ($5.50), which had been lightly dusted with crumbs then fried. The problem was that all three appetizers were served with three sauces that pretty much looked the same. Our server, who was also the bartender, never told us which one went with which appetizer.

The new huge Seigo’s establishment in Sussex opened in February, replacing a smaller establishment on Capitol Drive in Brookfield. Unfortunately, the restaurant lacks a lot in looks and resembles a large white warehouse. And the white acoustic tiles around the exhaust fans in the ceiling are already stained from all the cooking smoke.

The other accommodations are a few small tables in the restaurant ’s bar room (where a friend and I ate so we could chat), and five seats at a small sushi bar.

To be fair, I have to report that there were at least 140 patrons in the restaurant on Sweetest Day and, judging from the noise level, most of them seemed to be having a good time.

But I’m not sure that I want to go back soon. My mom always told me not to play with my food.

Seigo’s Japanese Steak House N64-W23180 Main St., Sussex

(262) 820-8600

**

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Visa, MasterCard

Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: $14.95-$36

Handicapped access: Yes

No-smoking section: Yes

Children’s menu: Yes

E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright 2006, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

New restaurant possible in old Seigo's

Committee told vacant building may reopen

Village of Sussex — One of the prospective sites for a possible new Village Hall has apparently been eliminated before a citizens task force had an opportunity to review it.

The Seigo's Steakhouse building at N64 W23180 Main St. may be reopened as a restaurant, according to Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

Smith told the Village Hall Facility Study Group last week that a Milwaukee-area restaurateur has expressed interest in taking over the building.

The owner of the building, Town of Merton businessman Nels Anderson, had offered to sell it to the village for $1.5 million.

Ironically, it was Anderson's suggestion that the village buy the steakhouse, which was closed in January, and convert it into a new Village Hall that prompted the creation of the task force. Village President Tony Lapcinski gained approval from the village board to appoint the group as a result of the debate village officials were having over the feasibility of Anderson's offer.

Architects and contractors have warned the village that the 90-year-old former Main Street School building where village hall is presently housed cannot continue serving as a government center for much longer than a decade.

The consultants said the village is going to have to either renovate and build an addition to the historic building or construct a new village hall.

Task force chairwoman Trustee Pat Tetzlaff asked that the steakhouse be considered as a possible site for a new village hall.

The building was listed among about a dozen potential sites provided to the task force by Smith.

"It may be off the table before you get a chance to consider it," Smith told the committee.

Smith declined to offer more details about the restaurateur reportedly interested in the building other than he had a reputation for operating a successful fine-dining establishment in southeastern Wisconsin.

Smith also advised the committee that Brookfield computer entrepreneur Arthur Sawall has completed his purchase of the Mammoth Springs cannery site at the intersection of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue. Smith suggested the task force might want to consider the feasibility of a new village hall being included in Sawall's development plans for the site.

The village staff used about a half dozen flip charts, monopoly money, and card board file boxes, as props during the hour-long dinner meeting over in the Village Board meeting room on the lower level of Village Hall.

During the meeting, each of the committee members was asked to define their "goals, needs and wants" for a village hall. After listing their priorities for the new village hall, each member was asked to use the monopoly money to assign a value to each of their priorities.

The first priority identified by the committee was a newly built or remodeled village hall that complemented the downtown redevelopment plan and achieved the second priority of serving all of the village and its employees.

The third priority was the development of a civic campus setting that might include a new village hall and possibly expanded library facility. The committee members indicated they also wanted the process to be transparent and respect the history of the Main Street School building and the village.

In addition to the Seigo's building and the cannery site, other possible sites the committee might want to study Smith listed are: Armory Park, the Community Center, the public works garage land on Clover Drive, land adjacent to the Public Safety Building, the Indian Creek Mall on Main Street, the Eggert Furniture building on Main Street, the former Templeton Inn site on Main Street, village property on Main Street east of Tony Maronni's Pizza, and farm land along Silver Spring Road, southeast of the downtown business district.


Economy forces closing of local steakhouse

Clerk says business owner owes back taxes

Village of Sussex — Downtown business owner Nels Anderson, the owner of Seigo's Japanese Steak House says economic conditions have forced him the close the restaurant.

Anderson said in an interview with the Sussex Sun that the economic recession resulted in too few customers for the restaurant to survive. He said because of the money that he has invested and lost in the restaurant, he is in the process of reorganizing some of his other businesses.

Village Clerk Susan Freiheit said she has been notified by a federal bankruptcy court in New Mexico that Anderson has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on two other businesses he owns in the village, Circle S Storage and Sussex Storage.

Anderson said both business will continue to operate and have been successful but were placed in bankruptcy as a result of the debt accrued by the restaurant.

Freiheit said she notified bankruptcy officials that the restaurant companies Anderson owns owe about $40,000 in a combination of village real estate and personal property taxes as well as sewer and water bills. Initial payments on approximately $38,000 in personal and real estate taxes on the building were due Jan. 31, according to the village clerk.

Freiheit said the debts have accrued during the past six months, otherwise the liquor license for the establishment would not have been renewed in June 2010.

"It is all because of the economy," Anderson said of the debts.

Anderson added that he thinks the real estate taxes on the restaurant are too high. He said he located the Japanese-style steak house, and added an American-style steak grill to the interior of the restaurant, based on encouragement he had received from village officials.

He said the quality of the food and the amenities in the restaurant were comparable to other high-end steakhouses in Lake Country, but apparently was unable to attract the same volume of business.

Anderson initially offered to sell the building to the village for about $2 million last year as a possible location for a new village hall. He later reduced his offer to $1.5 million.

Anderson told the Sun in December 2010 that it would be more cost effective for the village to buy and remodel the restaurant building rather than try to renovate or expand the existing Village Hall, which is housed in a 90-year-old school building.

Since receiving Anderson's offer, the Village Board has created a facility study group charged with studying various construction and design alternatives and making recommendations to the Village Board about what to do with the existing Village Hall.

Architectural and construction consultants have warned village officials that the existing building is not suitable to serve as a long-term center for municipal government and the costs to renovate or build an addition to the building are almost equal to the cost of constructing a new building.

Village President Tony Lapcinski and Trustee Pat Tetzlaff, chair of the study group, have both said the restaurant building should be explored as an alternative to remodeling the existing Village Hall or building a new facility.

However, Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said he has reservations about the cost of converting the restaurant into a village hall and removing it from the village's tax base as a viable privately owned business.


Business Brief 11/10/10

Sussex passes on Seigo's offer

Village of Sussex - Village officials are still looking at the possibility of a new Village Hall, but, for the time being, the Seigo's Restaurant option is off the table.

The Village Board tabled a resolution to consider an offer to sell the building to the village from the restaurant's current owner, Nehls Anderson, at its Oct. 26 meeting.

According to Village Administrator Jeremy Smith, Anderson has received another offer, and the board decided to wait until the fate of that offer had been determined before taking action.


Five years ago - May 5, 2005

Redeemer United Church of Christ is one step closer to rebuilding a new church to replace the one destroyed by fire on March 14, 2004.

Jem Photo/Galaxy Video closed and Seigo's Japanese Steak House is set to open in Sussex at the site of the former lumber yard.


Restaurant offer for Sussex Village Hall

Group to consider options including steak house

Village of Sussex —A citizen's committee will be asked to help village officials decide whether Seigo's Japanese steak house can be turned into a new village hall or whether other alternatives will have to be sought to replace a 90-year-old school building as the seat of local government.

The seven-member committee is being given a year and a $25,000 budget to study what would be best alternative for the village: renovating, rebuilding, or replacing the antiquated - but revered - old school house.

Village President Tony Lapcinski is expected to seek Village Board approval of seven nominees to the committee next month. He said committee members should represent various segments of the village's neighborhoods and business community and he was anticipating receiving recommendations for appointees from the village trustees.

"Village Hall will be a very emotional issue," warned Trustee Pat Tetzlaff during last month's Village Board meeting when she and other trustees acknowledged there is a lot of sentimental attachment to the old building on Main Street.

But a prominent Midwest architectural firm -Plunkett Raysich - and a well-known national construction company - Mortenson - have warned the village that the building is no longer suitable as a long-term seat of government.

They have suggested the village invest about a half-million dollars in what they described as "band aid" renovation, repairs and maintenance work that might add 10 to 15 years of functional life to the structure.

Their report suggests another approximately $5 million would be needed if the village wants to renovate and add on to the school building to provide about 20,000 square feet of office and public spaces, including approximately 11,000 square feet within existing structure.

For about $5.5 million, a new building could be built that "opens up possibilities for creating new and dynamic outdoor spaces that are reinforced by the new village hall and the future library expansion" and would "allow for the utmost in flexible space and energy efficiency at only slight higher cost" than remodeling and expanding the existing facility, according to the report.

But downtown business owner Nels Anderson of the Town of Merton says he has a better idea. Anderson is prepared to sell to the village the 20,000-square-foot building that houses the Seigo's Japanese Steak House north of the intersection of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue for $1.5 million. That is a half million dollars lower than an offer he made earlier this year that was rejected by the Village Board. He said he is willing to lop another $40,000 off the price "if a study on the viability of purchasing the building is done."

"I do not believe that a building of the same quality could be built in this day and age for less than $4 million," he said in a letter to the village.

Anderson later told the Sussex Sun that he believed it would be more cost effective for the city to buy and remodel his building rather than try to renovate or expand the school building.

However, Village Administrator Jeremy Smith has reservations.

"There is a lot more involved here than simply throwing up some walls for remodeling," he observed.

"There is the question of location. Do you want your seat of government at that location? It is a policy question for the Village Board to decide. Do you want to take a building like that off the tax rolls? After all, there have been a lot of people who have said we need a good restaurant downtown," he added.

In addition, the cost of acquiring the land and renovating the building must be compared with the estimated costs of a new building or remodeled and expanded school house, Smith added.

Lapcinski is hopeful that a citizen's committee can gather the facts and offer the Village Board an objective analysis of a number of different alternatives, including the restaurant offer.

Lapcinski, who is not seeking reelection for a third term, said one of the reasons he wanted a Village Hall Study Group was so the issues could be objectively studied by citizens without being involved in the upcoming municipal elections.

The two announced candidates for village president - Trustee Gregory Goetz and Hamilton School Board Chairman Gabe Kolasari - said they support creation of the Village Hall Study Group.


Sussex Village Hall committee proposed

President: Group should mull facility's future

Village of Sussex —Village President Tony Lapcinski said he may ask the Village Board next month to approve the appointment of a special committee to explore alternatives for the reconstruction or replacement of Village Hall.

Lapcinski suggested the committee be comprised of citizens, business leaders, and elected officials and it conduct a thorough and transparent study of whether to remodel or reconstruct the existing Village Hall or build a new one.

He proposed the committee during an interview with the Sussex Sun after the Village Board tabled his suggestion at an Oct. 26 meeting that village study the feasibility of converting a privately owned restaurant building that is for sale into a new village hall sometime in the future.

One village trustee who supported Lipinski's' proposals - Pat Tetzlaff - warned that any discussions regarding the future of the existing village hall building will be emotional.

"There are citizens and trustees who are very attached to that building," she said referring to the old school on Main Street in which village government offices are located.

On the other hand, she said, there are others, who believe it is imperative that the village begin planning for a new village hall in the future.

A consultants' report commissioned by the village has concluded that the nearly 90-year-old building "is not suitable for long term use as the center of village government."

The report by Mortenson Construction and Plunkett Rasich Architects said the building is poorly insulated, its mechanical systems need to be replaced, it is inadequately designed for modern office work, and includes small work spaces that lack flexibility.

In addition, the building's acoustic and security systems are poor and there are no legal handicapped entries or restrooms.

The report suggested that it would cost more than a half million dollars to make repairs that might last 10 years. To remodel and expand the building from 11, 000 square feet to 19,750 square feet would cost about $5 million which is about what it would cost to build a new building, according to the report.

Nels Anderson of the Town of Merton, owner of Seigo's Japanese Steak House, has reportedly offered to sell the approximately 22,000-square-foot building to the village for approximately $2.1 million.

Lapcinski and Tetzlaff argued that the village should at least investigate whether the building could be converted into a village hall but the remaining members of the board would not go along with the idea, some of them arguing that the school building should be preserved.

"This building has stood soundly here since 1922 serving as a center of pride for the community for most of those years and still does in the minds of many unspoken residents and myself," argued Trustee Jason Wegner.

Former Village President Mike Knapp, who twice lost election contests to Lapcinski, argued that the restaurant was an asset to the community and should not be converted into a village hall. He asserted that the $10,000 Lapcinski suggested to study whether the restaurant could be converted into a village hall should be spent on preserving the historic school building.


Coquette, Off the Clock do brunch | Side Dish

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, February 11, 2011
Author: Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Staff

Seigo's Japanese Steak House at N64-W23180 Main St., Sussex , is closed, reportedly as of the week of Jan. 31. The building is for sale.

The restaurant first opened at 18380 W. Capitol Drive in Brookfield - now the site of Mr. B's - before moving into a new building in Sussex five years ago.


New restaurant possible in old Seigo's

Committee told vacant building may reopen

Village of Sussex — One of the prospective sites for a possible new Village Hall has apparently been eliminated before a citizens task force had an opportunity to review it.

The Seigo's Steakhouse building at N64 W23180 Main St. may be reopened as a restaurant, according to Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

Smith told the Village Hall Facility Study Group last week that a Milwaukee-area restaurateur has expressed interest in taking over the building.

The owner of the building, Town of Merton businessman Nels Anderson, had offered to sell it to the village for $1.5 million.

Ironically, it was Anderson's suggestion that the village buy the steakhouse, which was closed in January, and convert it into a new Village Hall that prompted the creation of the task force. Village President Tony Lapcinski gained approval from the village board to appoint the group as a result of the debate village officials were having over the feasibility of Anderson's offer.

Architects and contractors have warned the village that the 90-year-old former Main Street School building where village hall is presently housed cannot continue serving as a government center for much longer than a decade.

The consultants said the village is going to have to either renovate and build an addition to the historic building or construct a new village hall.

Task force chairwoman Trustee Pat Tetzlaff asked that the steakhouse be considered as a possible site for a new village hall.

The building was listed among about a dozen potential sites provided to the task force by Smith.

"It may be off the table before you get a chance to consider it," Smith told the committee.

Smith declined to offer more details about the restaurateur reportedly interested in the building other than he had a reputation for operating a successful fine-dining establishment in southeastern Wisconsin.

Smith also advised the committee that Brookfield computer entrepreneur Arthur Sawall has completed his purchase of the Mammoth Springs cannery site at the intersection of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue. Smith suggested the task force might want to consider the feasibility of a new village hall being included in Sawall's development plans for the site.

The village staff used about a half dozen flip charts, monopoly money, and card board file boxes, as props during the hour-long dinner meeting over in the Village Board meeting room on the lower level of Village Hall.

During the meeting, each of the committee members was asked to define their "goals, needs and wants" for a village hall. After listing their priorities for the new village hall, each member was asked to use the monopoly money to assign a value to each of their priorities.

The first priority identified by the committee was a newly built or remodeled village hall that complemented the downtown redevelopment plan and achieved the second priority of serving all of the village and its employees.

The third priority was the development of a civic campus setting that might include a new village hall and possibly expanded library facility. The committee members indicated they also wanted the process to be transparent and respect the history of the Main Street School building and the village.

In addition to the Seigo's building and the cannery site, other possible sites the committee might want to study Smith listed are: Armory Park, the Community Center, the public works garage land on Clover Drive, land adjacent to the Public Safety Building, the Indian Creek Mall on Main Street, the Eggert Furniture building on Main Street, the former Templeton Inn site on Main Street, village property on Main Street east of Tony Maronni's Pizza, and farm land along Silver Spring Road, southeast of the downtown business district.


New restaurant in Seigo's building

Steak house to be converted into bar and grill

Village of Sussex - The owner of the Boneyard Pub & Grill in Mukwonago is hoping to open a similar establishment with the same name in the village by Labor Day.

Jim Jones of Big Bend told the Plan Commission Thursday, June 16, that he is in the process of purchasing the former Seigo's building at N64 W23180 from Town of Merton business owner Nels Anderson.

Anderson closed the restaurant and put the building up for sale earlier this year prior to property being included in federal bankruptcy court proceedings.

Jones said the sale of the building is contingent upon his receiving approval for various village permits, which appears likely, and he anticipates closing the transaction in July.

The Plan Commission approved a plan of operation for the first floor of the 19,600-square-foot building. However, the commission said Jones would have to secure additional outside parking space in order to be permitted to operate in the lower level of the building.

Jones said he is negotiating leasing parking space on a rental storage property adjacent to the restaurant that is also owned by Anderson.

However, Village Attorney John Macy pointed out there are other nearby properties that could be used for parking space if the negotiations between Jones and Anderson failed to produce an agreement.

The first floor of the building, which is approximately 10,200 square feet, will include a main dining hall and a seasonal outdoor patio. The lower level, which is about 9,460 square feet, will include a banquet hall and seasonal outdoor seating area, according to the village staff.

Jones said he intended to provide family-style dining with a full menu of dine-in or carry-out services.

Jones told the Plan Commission that he is considering serving breakfast at the establishment but has not made a final decision.

Several members of the Plan Commission, including Village President Greg Goetz, urged Jones to try to establish a breakfast business at the establishment.

"I want this restaurant to be successful. I think it is just what we need in Sussex," said Plan Commission member Steve Pellechia.

 

 

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