Monday, May 14, 2012

Osaka–How the mighty have fallen

I want to put a HUGE disclaimer out there before I get to deep into this review.

I have always been a fan of Osaka.  There was a time when we went there multiple times a month.

We were such big fans, that we used to hold our New Years Eve party in the private Japanese Dining room (bet you didn’t know they had that) – where we would sing karaoke and eat all night.

It was the the first place I tried Sushi  over 10 years ago (thanks Debi) and their Hibachi Grill has been a staple “Date Night” as long as I have known my wife.

While it is not the #1 Japanese Restaurant on our list (yes, we do maintain such lists – and that spot belongs to Hani Yori of Japan in South Bend), I have always spoken highly of Osaka.

Last Night might have changed that view for long time.

Since it was Mother’s Day, we took Debi out for dinner – and to her, Sushi/Hibachi sounded good.

When we arrived, the Grill area was not ready for seating.  Two of the three were still laden with dishes and the third was occupied. 

We were asked to sit at the bar, but even that had 8 dirty shot glasses scattered around.

Service at the bar was generally slow (to non-existent), with no one dedicated to the area.  While this may work for hostesses/waiters getting drinks for their areas….if you in a “Holding Patter” at the bar, a bartender helps keep customers happy with flowing drinks.

Little did I know, the highlight of the evening would be a simple canSapporo of -  Sapporo Beer

  • Appearance – Light head and carbonation.  The beer itself is crystal clear and pale gold
  • Nose – Crisp, with a slight hint of rice and mustyness (not in an off-putting way).  No hops whatsoever.
  • Taste – A light pils flavor, that counters the potential spiciness of oriental cuisine.  Like many things from Japan, you can tell this has been tailored
  • Solid 3 out of 5 – Especially with Japanese food.MugMugMug

After waiting approximately 10 minutes for an area to be cleaned and to be seated, we were joined with another threesome who had been waiting longer than we had.

For dinner we ordered the Filet (extra Rare) and Shrimp, Steak (Medium Rare) and Ahi Tuna (Rare).

Here are our thoughts -

    • No Miso Soup – This didn’t really come to light until after we were home….a eureka moment, where I said “Hey Wait a  Minute…..”.
    • New Chef - The Hibachi Chef was really new.  He had (admittedly) no formal training, but instead learned “Everything” there at Osaka.  Since the Hibachi act is 99% the same wherever you go….it was interesting he did none of the “Standards” other than Onion Volcano and flipping shrimp.
    • Cleanliness -He didn’t clean the grill between servings.  No scraping or watering, but instead, leavings just blacked on the grill.
    • Tuna - This had an impact on the Ahi Tuna – where a few pieces had “crusties” from cooked rice and other food left on the grill.
    • Overcooked Filet Mignon – I know 100% for a fact that Debi said at least three times that she wanted it “Super Rare”.  It didn’t happen.  Instead she got a just under medium rare steak….plus the aforementioned “Crusties”
    • Not everything wrong was the Hibachi – The Sushi was actually warm….including the fish.  This impacted flavor and raised the question the freshness.

I am sure I am going to get a few comments, especially from the loyal customers….but if you really know me, you know that I put it all out there….100% my opinion and unbiased.  If its bad, its bad.

I would like to think that the poor dining experience was attributed to it being Mother’s Day – and that we caught them at the tail end of one of the busiest days of the year.  If so, I really do wish Osaka well – but I will use a quote from Debi as we were driving home to sum up the day -

“If this were our first time going there, I would not go back.”

I really pains me to say…..the highlight of my dinner experience was the beer- A classic Sapporo……from a can.


  1. Wow, that sounds terrible. Have you noticed a gradual decline or was this the only time recently that you've left unsatisfied?

  2. Hard to say - With the recent inclussion of several other Japanese resturants in CoMO, I find us trying those more often. Kabuki is my wife's favorite currently.

    I do wonder, with all these new resturants - are they pulling the good chefs away and therefore Osaka is forced to bring in the inexperienced?


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