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.