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Monday, November 18, 2013

Teppanyaki redux: Gasho of Japan

I used to come here often, and loved it.  But I hadn't been back in years.  Then a friend suggested a get-together at Gasho, and we were on our way.


If you've been reading this blog awhile, you know I really enjoy Benihana.  Teppanyaki cooking appeals to me.  Throughout our evening at Gasho, I could not help but compare the two restaurants -- and Benihana won easily.


Let's start with the physical surroundings.  Small, cramped parking lot.  Unlit walkways from the parking lot to the restaurant's front door.   Cramped, overcrowded dining room.  And despite all the teppanyaki grills in use, the room was cold!


At Benihana, all of the grill tables seat 12, so unless you are a very large party, you will be sharing with others.  I like that Gasho has some smaller tables available, as a party of six we had a table to ourselves.
That, unfortunately, was the highlight of the evening.


I won't say anything was truly awful, just that it wasn't very good and didn't live up to my expectations.


The server took our drink orders, then brought us soup while we were still  perusing the menu.  Try to eat soup while holding a menu, it isn't pretty....

Salads arrived just a moment later; I do not like ginger dressing, but I was not given an opportunity to ask for oil and vinegar before my salad was served.  It felt very rushed.  Drinks arrived while we were eating our salads, and then our dinner orders were taken.  And there was a very long gap between salad and the appearance of our chef.


What I really like about Benihana is the "show", how the chef entertains while he is cooking.  The corny but fun onion volcano.  Tossing the shrimp tails into his hat.  Shaping the fried rice into a heart. 
You don't really get that at Gasho.  The chef came to the table, sang a few bars of a pop song, twirled his knives a bit (that was impressive!), tossed some rice that we were supposed to catch with our mouths. . .and then got down to the serious business of cooking, and never interacted with us again.


Well, ok, then.


But how was the food?


Disappointing.


Let's start with the "shrimp appetizer".  As in, there was none.  At Benihana, at the very beginning of the process, the chef will cook some shrimp and serve it to everyone at the table, and then he will proceed to cook the entrees.  At Gasho, the chef never prepared a separate shrimp course.  Instead, he cooked the shrimp at the same time he was doing the steaks and chicken.  Those of us who ordered shrimp entrees were simply given more shrimp than those who did not.  Shrimp was a tad bit overdone, too.


Hibachi rice was merely ok.  Also a bit scorched.  And adding too much of the peas and corn mixture does take away from the dish.


Steak was ok.  Good, actually.  And accompanied by a wider variety of grilled vegetables than I am used to seeing.  Not bad at all.


Which leads me to the bean sprouts.  At the very end of the cooking session, the chef tossed some sprouts onto the grill, cooked them quickly, then topped each plate with sprouts.


I like bean sprouts.  Really, I do.  But not so many that I feel I have to dig through a mound of them to get to the rest of my dinner.


Green tea at the end of this meal was warm and cozy.


One other thing that irked us.  Soft drinks are treated the same as bar drinks -- no free refills.  An unfortunate restaurant trend.


No, I didn't go screaming into the night after this meal.  But on the other hand, I am not likely to go back to Gasho for a very long time.


Gasho of Japan on Urbanspoon

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