After much delay, downtown Madison can now finally welcome its newest addition to what was already a surplus of Asian-inspired restaurants — Glaze Teriyaki.  

But, that being said, Glaze looks to bring something new to the table by crossing the bridge between a takeout place like Asian Kitchen and sit-down place like Restaurant Muramoto. It’s a fast casual grill that still produces a pretty plate.

Upon entering, one immediately notices the establishment’s robust decor. Potted plants, exposed wood, quirky decorations (a vintage scrabble board comes to mind) and interesting fabrics, such as one based on “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” provide Glaze’s interior with a unique character. 

It almost feels like an upscale sit-down — that is until one notices the team of chefs cooking intently out in the open, or the line of customers eagerly waiting to receive their food.  It’s an ambitious idea, trying to provide a refined experience with the convenience of a place like Naf Naf Grill. At times it works, but at others it feels a little caught in between.

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When ordering, friendly cashiers take newcomers through the process, and ask dining preferences in terms of “dining in or out,” rather than the typical “for here or to go,” a gesture perhaps emblematic of Glaze’s aspirations for being more than just a casual lunch destination.

Their edamame side is executed well, cooked and seasoned to perfection — a simple task that is necessary to ace for a place like Glaze. Their tofu teriyaki bowl, served with rice and a side salad, is hit and miss.

Firstly, their way of cooking tofu is refreshing in its intent. Grill marks and large pieces offer a nice change of pace from the typical small cubes. It feels like Glaze is trying to make good tofu, rather than try and make it appear or taste like a meat that it is not. Adding in the side salad, rice and sesame glaze creates a plate that is pleasing to the eye, and it wouldn’t look out of place at a fancier restaurant.

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It mostly makes for a good bite, but one issue is that the dish feels like it is drenched in sesame glaze to the point that it is hard to appreciate the dish’s actual components. The right choice is likely to order the glaze on the side, so one can flavor the dish to their personal taste.

Unwanted sauciness aside, Glaze prices their food pretty fairly — but it’s still pricey. Considering the restaurant’s upscale atmosphere and sourcing of local, organic ingredients, the $8.50 spent on the tofu dish feels justified, and probably will feel justifiable in the future.

Overall, Glaze is a dining experience worth having because of its versatility. Its convenience makes for a quick stop, whereas its upscale interior and culinary aesthetic could serve well as a first date or dinner with parents.

Just get the sauce on the side.