It was Saturday. It was Castleton. The kids were hungry. We were screwed. We were looking for somewhere to eat (we promised them dinner out) and got shut out of a couple of places because we just wouldn’t wait forever. In desperation, I remembered there was another Japanese steakhouse nearby and I think I have mentioned that my kids love Benihana, so they would love it right? And we could get in without a reservation.
So we were going for the whole teppanyaki cook it at your table experience because my kids are big fans. And forgive me for comparing the whole experience to Benihana, but it is sort of unavoidable for me particularly since we have eaten there so many times. When you order dinner, you get the traditional clear soup with thinly sliced mushrooms and fried onions. I have to say this one had a little more flavor than others I have had. The salad was your typical iceberg lettuce with a ginger dressing. This was the type that was more mayo based and creamy and I prefer the purely gingery vinaigrette type as far as Japanese restaurant salads go.
I had the filet and shrimp combination ($26.95 includes soup, salad and shrimp app) and hubby had a combination of flounder and shrimp ($20.95). We always share in these kinds of meals. My son, the steak eater, also had filet (happy to see it as an option on the kid’s menu). My daughter had the shrimp. The kids both had the fried rice option as well. So they really liked the fried rice. I noticed they make it with a lot less veggies, no chicken, and a lot more sauces than at other places. It tasted okay to me, but it apparently really appealed to the kids. I did like that there were a lot more sautéed veggies offered with each meal—there were bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots, onions and zucchini and a lot of them. I appreciated this a bit more than the kids though.
Unfortunately after that, things went sort of south. Both the shrimp and the steaks were overcooked and lacking any real seasoning. My son, pointed it out quite loudly that in fact, his steak was not medium rare as he ordered it (my son declares everything very loudly—he really needs volume control). I don’t know, maybe the guy just does the meat that way regardless of how you order it, or maybe he was just having an off night. The shrimp were also a little tough. They don’t cut them up the same way they do at Benihana, which I think is a mistake because they are probably afraid of undercooking them, and went too far the other way. The flounder on hubby’s dish may have been one of the better things, it was cooked properly and was tender and I liked the flavoring they put on it while they were cooking it. I thought the fish was just a little bit fishy though.
All in all, it wasn’t a great experience food-wise, but I will say our chef was quite flashy and skilled with all the teppanyaki tricks. They do the big flames here, and he was tossing eggs all over the place. That part he had down anyway. The interior is tired though, other than the very cool koi ponds as you walk in (even with a little bridge across it—the kids were digging this). It pretty much looks like it was opened in the 80s and hasn’t been touched since. Oh well, at least we managed to find a non-chain restaurant in Castleton—that alone earns us a medal right?
6342 East 82nd Street