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Yucky "nice" chain restaurants.(like Benihana)

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  • These would be the ones people go to birthdays and stuff for.

    The top of this would be Benihana. I'm from an Asian ethnic family. Fam went there once in my childhood, I don't remember that much about it other that it wasn't great. Then there was a work lunch in 2012. Not impressed either but typically don't consume much during any work lunch.

    But yesterday the ILs decided to invite everyone to Benihana as a "family" thing. I like '70s kitch and if they've been around that long and survived, there "had" to be a reason. It's Wednesday, they had reservations to boot, and you'd think you would get seated promptly. You would think wrong. An hour in the bar spent sipping some punch thing that I doubt appeals even to 20-yos risking being carded. You can't get food in the bar as most entrees are about them making a show preparing it in front of you, and they don't have the grilltables in there.

    So finally, we get seated. I tried another drink I've had at other places, but it was all syrup and I couldn't finish it. And meanwhile, there is yet another 20-25 minute wait while they told us, a party of six, to scoot over in case they wanted to sit two more people at the table. There's another table in there, the size of your dining room, fumes, sounds going off everywhere.

    Finally, things got started. Very scripted, hurry up and eat. I don't think the miso tasted as much like that as much as a bouillon cube with some onion. Salad was wilted. Guy comes out, juggles a couple spatulas twice (per the show), then commences frying stuff up. By the time he got to the meat, it'd been sitting there 20 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, you're close enough to see the bakery insignia of the cake the party next to you brought in. You might imagine smelling their perfume or BO in the 3/4ths enclosed space you're in. But just breathe.

    Oh God. I don't think this is claustrophobia. I eat in sports stadiums all the time.Not a big foodie, but with the lights, the commotion,the fumes,the low ceilings, I can't eat this. Was the oil or butter rancid? Or was it a lack of ventilation from the low ceilings? I retreat to the bathroom. Toilet paper all over each stall.

    By this point, the stomach has just said no. But as it's family, still trying to prevail. By this time, it's toward the end of the dining cycle; the waitperson has eased up on the drill sargeant get out the salad urgency by the ice cream. I decline. By that time, I'm seriously just hoping it'll be a lack of appetite and not create a scene. But I'm starting to feel pretty bad.

    As soon as I got home, what I did ingest came out involuntarily.

    I was expecting a middling experience, sort of Outback Steakhouse or something. Maybe BJ Brewhouse or Olive Garden. This was gastronomical levels of bad.
    SantaClaraHawk
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  • I ate there back in High School for Prom and LOVED it. Fast forward to about 4 years ago my wife, Daughter and I went down there for Dinner and it was NOTHING like I had remembered it being. I also felt rushed to eat, pay and leave.

    The food was not cheap, and not even close to being worth the cost. There are a couple local Tokyo Steak houses that are a fraction of the cost and much better. I will never step foot in there again.

    I will say though, back in '97 when the Bulls played the Sonics in the Finals, we followed Ron Harper, Rodman, and Pippen down the back alley behind the restaurant while they were trying to avoid the hoards of people out front and talked to all of them for several minutes. Probably the best experience I will ever have there. :D
    2_0_6
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  • SantaClaraHawk wrote: It's Wednesday, they had reservations to boot, and you'd think you would get seated promptly. You would think wrong. An hour in the bar spent sipping some punch thing that I doubt appeals even to 20-yos risking being carded.


    There's a japanese steakhouse by my work that I sometimes take clients to, or eat with company reps when they're in town. So I've gotten to know the manager there.

    He's told me numerous times that making your party wait in the bar is on purpose. They're trying to pad the bill, of which you've found out is expensive, especially with a big party and everyone getting their signature wacky drinks, beers and wine. So making you wait even 20 minutes adds $100 to a group tab.

    As far as these types of restaurants or other "high end" chain restaurants, I loath them all. It's just crap food wrapped up in an "experience" bow so they can charge more. Sure when the kids were little, Japanese steak house, Mongolian Grill, Korean BBQ, etc are fun once in a while.........but in general? Bleck. Gross.
    Sgt. Largent
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  • Yeah. I would say to Hawks fans coming up for Niners games staying near SFO, any of the restaurants with big signs for dinner on Bayshore Boulevard are not your best buy. If you just want decent food, go to Annie's at Anza/101 in Burlingame. Big udon bowls, large American menu, at least beer and wine, possibly full. You want to minimize your food needs before going into Levi's as the selection is decidedly unimpressive. If you want more than a 24/7 diner expereince, then go to Fish Market (Norfolk/101 San Mateo) or down to The Vans in Belmont.

    Further, to anyone, I'd suggest not paying for the parking pass. It's too much. If you are staying on the Burlingame strip where most of the hotels are, look up Caltrain schedules and have your shuttle/uber deliver you there in San Mateo. The mayhem you have heard about BART does not exist on Caltrain, and in fact it's fully legal to bring beer on Caltrain (not Levi's Stadium itself). If in case you miss it, then just get down to Mountain View and pick it up there.

    As far as SF proper, I lived there 17 years and have been in the area about 30 in total. AFA the tourist track, the food at Fisherman's Wharf has been subpar for over 20 years with the current attraction being sea lions that for the most part just sit around. Outside of the Young Museum/Aquarium in middle of GGP, not much to see there plus you have to watch your step for syringes and human waste at every step. No local I know has ever hung out there for any period of time.

    ETA: I get bar wait times and typically am not upset. You get drinks you prob would have gotten in anticipation of the Main Event. But when the drinks are terrible, you are rushed through Main Event, and further you get sick...nah, it's beyond your typical Korean BBQ experience.
    SantaClaraHawk
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  • Benihana in Seattle is closed and has been for a while, they must of rebranded under another name to get away from the Franchise. Hamanasu is what they are called now, they also changed locations. Ironsteak is another of that type of Restaurant that's new in Seattle.

    Back in the 80's I had ate at Benihanas a few times over the years, one time I had the experience on a level of WTF, every other time it was great, they had a Piano bar to wait in and regular Drinks you could order. Really comes down to the server and Chef, when you get a good team they make it great a team of less experienced and or not really sociable and going thru the motions or just want to turn tables for the tip which in these places is auto added to your bill based on party size it can be less then fun when you feel like they are pushing you to eat and out the door give me your money nights.
    chris98251
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