Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tako Sushi - A Teppanyaki Nightmare

Last night at Tako Sushi, hands down, was the worse teppanyaki experience I've ever had in my whole life. It was so bad that I have to blog about it today right away so I won't forget all the bad things I have to say about it. The food was awful, the service was awful, everything was AWFUL. The only thing "positive" that I can say about it was that at least the dinner wasn't expensive, it was actually really really cheap. Considering that my experience there was so bad though, you can imagine why they can charge so little. Let's just say that at the end of the day, I will NOT go back to Tako Sushi for teppanyaki ever again, even if for free.

It was packed last night there. This Mississauga location only opened a month or so ago, so I was not surprised by the crowd. Mississauga lacks good Japanese restaurants in general, and when new restaurants open people tend to flock there. Tako Sushi's original location is at Don Mills, which I've been to once for sushi (sushi was not good), but not for teppanyaki.

I went with my family and the five of us were led to the teppanyaki room. There was exactly 5 seats available for us in a row, which was perfect with a good view of the teppanyaki table, but the waiter insisted we sit at the corner with 3 people on one side and 2 on the other like an "L" shape, with empty seats available on both sides beside us. We thought this was really really weird, but he insisted that we could not sit like that because he is expecting other guests to arrive soon. Which, in my point of view, doesn't even make SENSE because those people can be seated on the other 5 empty seats in a row too, like why this awkward arrangement? But whatever, we didn't argue.

A few minutes after we ordered, the manager came back and said that we can now sit however we pleased. I was thinking WTF? After being so adamant about the "L" shaped seating arrangement, suddenly it is now OK for us to sit like however we wanted, which made absolute sense to begin with anyway? We were all muttering under our breaths as we finally sat down in a row in front of the teppanyaki table. Our Kirin beers arrived (we ordered 4 bottles but the waiter only brought 3 the first time, but whatever not a big deal at all). We were looking forward to the dinner now.

The set teppanyaki dinner that we ordered consisted of green salad, 3 California rolls, 3 nigiri sushi, clams, strip loin steak, lamp chop, 1/2 lobster, sake soup with mussels, veggies, and beef fried rice. All this, was for $19.95 per person! It was a super great deal. And if you add $8 you get 1/2 an order of extra lobster, which we did. This was honestly a crazy deal.

The sushi was OK, the fish wasn't particularly fresh. Lots of rice underneath too.

The waiter brought over a dragon roll which was on-the-house. I was sure this was because of our frustration with the seating arrangement issue earlier. So that was cool, things were good so far.

Our chef came shortly after and started cooking. He did this right away after asking us how we liked our meat cooked. He also spoke to us in Chinese since he probably heard us speaking Chinese, which is totally fine. But what I was not fine with was...where was the customary and standard juggling of knives? Where was the show???

Clams, which were cooked covered most of the time.  

Lamb chops, which were actually lamb racks. 

Added the strip loin steak afterwards.

The strip loin steaks were cubed. Till now, still no special show or knife skill display, no fire, no nothing. He was basically just cooking in front of us like a normal person.

I must warn you, these pictures do not do justice. As in, the food tasted a lot worse than how it may look in these pictures. 

First of, the clam had no flavor and the texture, it felt like I was eating rubber. The lamb rack was so tough and dry! We asked for medium and it tasted more like well done. The steak was supposed to be cooked medium rare, but again, tough and dry (thank goodness it was cubed or else it would be hard to swallow that down). None of these three things had any flavor because they were only seasoned with salt and pepper. On the other hand, to be fair to the chef, we know that the meats weren't cooked for long either, which can only mean that the quality of meat was bad.

However, you know how usually when you go for teppanyaki you see a lot (or sometimes maybe too much) garlic butter being used by the chef? No such thing here. There was no aroma of garlic butter (which would usually fill the room), I'm not sure if it was even used. If it was used, I wasn't able to taste any of it. I mean really, garlic butter is a MUST for teppanyaki! Another important point is there were NO dipping sauces available.

Next up were the lobsters. Oh right about here, the chef addressed us that he hopes we don't mind that hes not giving us a show because he was just so swamped and so busy that he doesn't want to waste time doing the tricks. Eh...come again? WTF? The show is supposed to be part of the whole teppanyaki experience! All teppanyaki chefs do at least the standard show, and some even create their own variations. How can you tell me because you're too busy, you won't be doing a show for us? He also didn't ASK u if it was OK to not do a show, he simply INFORMED us that he won't be doing one. I think he was taking advantage of us because we were chatting with him in Chinese the whole time and being friendly, and due to such good "terms", he probably felt he didn't need to impress us.

Lobster. Nothing impressive again, no flavour at all but at least the lobster meat was edible. Notice, please, where the chef placed the lobster plate - half on the teppanyaki table, half hanging above me and my mom's plates (still filled with meats which we didn't want to finish). During the whole dinner, no waiters came to serve us or filled our waters, and evidently nobody came to collect our unused plates. So basically, there was no room on the table as food is cooked for us at an alarming speed by the chef (since he didn't have to do any tricks, the food was cooked really quickly). We felt stressed trying to keep up and make room for him to put food in front of us.

On a more positive note, this lobster head had a lot of fat, which I love =) Sadly this has nothing to do with Tako Sushi

Next up was the mussel soup, which the chef served for us. The soup was obviously pre-made and basically just heating up on the the side as he was cooking.

This soup had a lot of flavor. Full of MSG flavor that is! There was no way mussel soup can contain so much flavour by itself naturally. Two out of my four mussels weren't even opened.

Veggie time. Bean sprouts, and assorted green and red peppers and onions. Needless to say, there was no onion ring fire-shooting volcano show, just regular onion slicing. As I said, because he was cooking so fast we still had a lot of food on our plates. There was no room for him to put the veggies. We had to arrange the food and combine them into plates to make room for the veggies. 

Last thing was the beef fried rice.  Again, no catching an egg in his hat or tossing it up and splitting it with his spatula...he broke it like how me and you would at home.

The beef  was so dry and hard, almost like beef pellets. Usually, teppanyaki fried rice is so delicious too, but not this one. I couldn't taste any butter in it, or any other flavor for that matter, and it was so dry.

So you know how usually when the chef is done cooking his final course, he would LEAVE and people can then eat quietly and start chatting since the show was over? Well, no, not here! After he was done cooking for us, he started cooking food, food that was not for us. For the half hour that we were eating and trying to finish our food, he was cooking a variety of oysters, lobsters, and meats for other people. Why is this you ask? It is because people that sit in the dining room can also order teppanyaki! YES, that is right! Is this messed up? Or is it just me? For the teppanyaki restaurants that I've been to, you can only order teppanyaki if you SIT in the TEPPANYAKI ROOM! If you are sitting at the regular tables, you can't just go and cross order teppanyaki stuff! I was appalled by this set-up. Here's the chef, cooking lobster for others.

This shot below just gives you some idea how our table looks like. Remember the dragon roll from the beginning of the night? The plate from it is still there. All the empty plates were still there, nobody came to collect anything.

There was green tea ice cream afterwards, probably the best part of the dinner since there was nothing wrong with it. We were all stuffed and very full, full of bad bad food. 

Three more things you need to know:

1) There were not enough teppanyaki chefs yesterday night. The group sitting across from us, which you can probably see in most of my pictures if you scroll back up, sat there without food the whole time because no chef was available to cook for them. I gotta say they have a lot of patience...I would've walked out long time ago. Another table full of people were also waiting for chefs. Really bad management here, not the chefs' faults, because remember, they gotta cook for the customers in the dining room too. Talk about over working the chefs.

2) When we got our bill, there was no discount. If you look at the website right now, you can see there is supposed to be a 20% grand opening discount for the Mississauga location. We asked about this, and apparently this discount ALREADY ended a few weeks ago. Hm...HELLO!? UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE! You have a new restaurant, and it is obvious that people will go to your website and check it out! They are MISLEADING people by still having the discount promotion on there. They know customers would STILL have to pay at the end even if they learn that the discount is over. SCAM!

3) We all smell horrible afterwards. There was no ventilation system there. You cannot hear any sort of fan above the chef's table. The smell was stronger than after Korean BBQ. Remember, our clothes not only absorbed the smell of food that was cooked for us, but also an extra half hour's worth of food and oil smell that had nothing to do with us.

WOW. What a night. Heard from a few people on twitter that the Don Mills location is just as bad, and that the sushi in this Mississauga location is bad too. But you know what? Because this teppanyaki dinner is just sooo cheap, I'm sure people will still go back again and again for it, people that don't mind the food and just want to get full. Be my guest, just don't ask me to go back. 

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