Steakhouse of the rising sun 

Kowasky Stephen
Credit: Shannon Cornman

There’s always room for improvement. You’ve heard that before, right? (Oh, man … was it only me? That’s a blow to the ego.)

Restaurants are no exception.

Whether it’s service, consistency of experience or consistency in food, everybody can, conceivably, get better.

Which is what makes writing this review of Yamato kind of difficult. I had a nice time. The food was pretty good. My waitress worked hard to make our experience a pleasant one … but there’s room for improvement.

First stop: the menu. Listen, I know what to expect at a Japanese steakhouse. That’s part of why I always look forward to going to a Japanese steakhouse. I’m going to see a menu with steak, chicken, shrimp, scallops, salmon and maybe lobster or calamari. And I know that all of those things are going to be prepared, before my eyes, by a man wielding a knife and a spatula and a 30-year-old book of puns.

But as sushi has become popular, Yamato and many others are offering rolls and nigiri to customers. Yamato’s menu lists a few that intrigued me, so I ordered tuna (because everybody does tuna) and flounder.

The fact my waitress seemed flummoxed by the order of flounder should have been a clue to bail on the order.

“We don’t have flounder. You should know that by now.”

That’s what the man from the sushi bar told my waitress. And his “you should know that by now” comment makes me think it’s time for new menus. Also unavailable: mackerel nigiri.

They did have tuna, it turns out, but the specimen I received lacked in both thickness and flavor. Not a great start.

Still, I could take solace in what was coming next: a big pile of seared and seasoned shrimp and scallops.

What followed was a nice performance of all the tried-and-true shtick that ended with everybody’s plates overflowing with food. The shrimp were finished first, followed by the steaks, then scallops and finally (really, after even the vegetables), we got some salmon.

There are logistics at play with teppanyaki (iron griddle) cooking, but with only four people eating, it did seem a bit like poor planning to have some entrées served so much later than others. My shrimp was already cold by the time the scallops arrived. Ditto for my wife’s steak when the salmon showed up.

If you’re eating as it’s coming to you, as we generally do, that’s not a huge deal. But not everybody does like me. That said, everything tasted good. The shrimp were seasoned right and cooked beautifully and the scallops were great, too.

The salmon, with the teriyaki glaze our chef cooked right on the flat top, was flaky and moist. That’s why we keep coming back, after all.

Yes, I wish that they would really try to restore a little sparkle and shine before my next visit. I’d love new menus, too, even if just to remove items they don’t plan to carry.

Because I like Yamato. I generally enjoy the entire experience there, but there’s room for improvement. So, yes, I will return. I just hope when I do, they’re treating the whole of the restaurant as well as they do my shrimp and scallops.

Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.

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