Yamabuki Restaurant - dinner - May 7, 2006
We originally had a dinner reservation for 8, but they were very willing to accommodate the change in our reservation to 9. Our reservation was at 5:30, which is when the restaurant opens for dinner. We ended up getting there a little early, before the doors were open, so we sat in the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel to wait. We went back at 5:30, at which time the doors were unlocked. We went in and told them about our reservation. We waited a couple of minutes as they put our tables together and then we were seated in the main dining room.
Our server then came over and took our drink orders, and the service was terrific all night. They were happy to oblige when we requested two separate checks for our party.
My husband and I had been to the restaurant two times previously, once sitting at the sushi bar and once sitting in the auxiliary dining room, both times for dinner. I found the sushi to be good, but since we have a favorite sushi restaurant, this wasn't a place we'd come back to just for sushi. We thought the sushi prices were a little high, but the annual passholder discount helped a lot.
This time, quite a number of us ordered the beef teriyaki complete dinner. A few others ordered the assorted sushi complete dinners. The complete dinners come with a number of "sides": miso soup, dinner salad (with ginger dressing), shrimp and vegetable tempura, 3 pieces of California roll and white rice. The miso soup had very good flavor and included bits of tofu and and green onions but no seaweed as some other places might have (which disappointed me since I love seaweed but which my husband was happy about since he hates seaweed). The dinner salad was pretty ordinary - the dressing was fairly mild. The tempura (2 pieces of shrimp, 3 pieces of vegetable) was quite good, very crispy, and the vegetables included sweet potato, eggplant and green bean. The California roll was very ordinary, but then I'm not a particular fan of California roll. The beef teriyaki was quite tasty. When you order, they ask how you want the meat cooked, and my order of medium came out so that the inside was still nice and pink. I'm not a fan of too much or too sweet teriyaki sauce, so I liked that the flavor of the teriyaki sauce was not overpowering, and there wasn't too much on the beef. I particularly enjoyed the numerous small sides as it meant you had the opportunity to taste a variety of things.
A few of us ordered appetizers, and everyone seemed to enjoy them. I had a piece of tuna sashimi, and it was very good quality. My husband said all of the sashimi he had in his appetizer (7 pieces total, consisting of tuna, salmon and yellowtail) was quite good. I ordered the oshinko (marinated vegetables) appetizer, and while $6.50 initially seemed a little expensive, I changed my mind after it arrived. It had a very good variety of vegetables (including carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, cucumber and daikon), and it was a very good sized serving as well. I also had one order of sushi, a clam which I haven't been able to find elsewhere and can't remember the name of, and it was very tasty and very crunchy. The sushi/sashimi dishes came with only very small amounts of ginger, but when we asked the server for more, more was soon brought to us.
For dessert, I had the plum wine ice cream, which was very good, even though it was more plum ice cream as opposed to plum wine ice cream. I had wanted the ginger ice cream but was told they were out and that they seldom actually get any in, so I'm not sure why they don't just take it off the menu. Others in our group had the mochi (they have two flavors available - mango and green tea, and you can either choose one flavor or a mixture of both), and they said it was quite good. I love mochi myself but had decided on the ice cream instead.
I was happy to see that menu items included shabu shabu and udon, so we're planning on returning at some point to try those. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that while the kid's menu included "safe" items like chicken nuggets, it also included selections like chicken teriyaki, beef teriyaki, tempura, soba and udon.
As good as the food was, the service was excellent as well. Each of our "sides" was brought to us separately, so while there was the issue of having enough space to have that many plates/bowls in front of you, it also meant our server had to return to our table numerous times in bringing out each dish. She was gracious and polite and friendly each time, and as we finished dishes, the empty plates/bowls were quickly taken away. Our drink glasses were also constantly being refilled, and any specific requests we had were timely accommodated. The wait staff was attentive but never intrusive and never interrupted our conversations.
The prices are not inexpensive, but you definitely get value for the price you pay. The restaurant is nicely decorated and fairly quiet. As we were leaving, the staff and the hostess and manager thanked us for coming and hoped to see us again.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this restaurant for anyone who likes Japanese food and those who might be interested in trying something they've never had before.
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