Tokyo Diner, Selinsgrove, PA

When you hear “diner,” you have a particular picture in your head. At least I do: I see comfort food; a brash, mouthy waitress pouring endless cups of coffee, calling you “hon” or “dear,” and an old cook manning a well-worn flat-top grill. Tokyo makes me think of bullet trains, fake models of noodle dishes displayed in the windows of restaurants, white-gloved elevator attendants. Put the two together, and somehow it doesn’t quite jibe–each one is mutually exclusive–but I have been wrong. We were both wrong.

This restaurant is on-site at the Comfort Inn in Selinsgrove, on Route 15. The menu was loaded with possibilities, sushi, sashimi, tempura, and hibachi. Hm. I talked G. into giving it a try; he was willing, we had driven up from DC, took scenic backroads, and it had been a long day. Well, to put it simply, we were pleasantly surprised.

We chose the sushi seating (a booth for two) instead of dining hibachi-style, which would have meant sharing dinner with strangers. However, we noticed that the folks coming in for dinner were not just locals, but regulars as well. The choices on the drinks menu seemed intriguing. The bartender, who was also seating diners, advised that he made a great Tokyo colada (pina colada with Midori, a green melon-based liqueur–which I do like). Sold. Wow. Just the right mix of coconut, pineapple, and yes, Midori. We had shrimp tempura, steamed shrimp dumplings, fried crab balls (yes, you read right–shreds of crab meat with a thin batter, fried into a large ball), which was followed by chicken and shrimp fried rice. There’s a pattern here–but a very nice pattern indeed. The colada was then followed by a Midori margarita on the rocks. Double wow.

Dessert–I needed it, considering the lovely Asian glow. I matched the personalized embroidered cloth napkins, so we went with the mochi bonbons, nuggets of ice cream enrobed with sweet rice mix (mochi). The whipped cream (and chocolate sauce drizzled on G’s strawberry ice cream, left off the red bean rice which I got) was really extraneous. The bonbons had enough to stand on their own, not too sweet, but unique and savory. Having had mochi in a different format, I was not disappointed. It was really good. The whole meal was worth it, food-wise and dollar-wise.

As we were leaving to go back down the hall to the hotel, we learned that this was a family-owned enterprise, with five other locations (York, Hershey, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, and Lancaster); guess this means a trip or two on Scooter. If Selinsgrove is any indication, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.

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