Tuesday, August 3, 2010
276 Hwy. 400 N., Dawsonville, GA 706/216-6988
On Saturday night Kyle and I joined my dad and stepmom at Osaka, a hibachi restaurant in Dawsonville, GA about 2 minutes away from the Georgia 400 Premium Outlets.
I bet half the people (or more) reading this blog are thinking "Ugh, hibachi. How corny can you get?"
And it does carry that negative stigma, often for good reason. However, I like hibachi. I like having fresh food cooked up in front of me. I like seeing the chefs perform knife tricks beforehand. I like the miso soup that precedes the meal.
Therefore I can say I liked Osaka, but not nearly as much as I like some of its competitors. Here's why:
The meat. I ordered a combination NY steak and chicken dinner. I got about twice the amount of chicken as I did steak. Look, I know steak is more expensive than chicken, but the meal was $18.95, so I expected equal portions.
The fried rice. I love fried rice at hibachi restaurants. Love it. Usually. This rice was OK, but it lacked sufficient flavor. I'm not sure if it needed more egg or more soy sauce, but it failed to impress.
The hibachi chef. I feel bad about saying this, because Jimmy was very nice (and the service from our waitress was great), but it rubbed me the wrong way. For one thing, I'm not crazy about the trick of tossing the food directly from the grill into the customer's mouth. Some people love this. Not me. Usually the chefs ask for a volunteer. Jimmy chucked a piece of chicken at every person in our group, and only one made it to its destination. My chicken fell far from the intended target, on my pale blue polo shirt. Hope that teriaki sauce comes out in the wash.
For another thing, Jimmy used a small water dispenser to heighten the flames of the grill, an interesting spectacle, but then he squirted water at every member of our party, on either the face or neck level. The only reason I didn't complain about this is because the restaurant was exceptionally hot and the water actually cooled me off a little bit. 95 degree temperatures don't mix well with sizzling hibachi grills. Our party sweated through most of the meal.
Another reason I usually like hibachi is for the sauces that are served in little square bowls - one for your meat, one for your vegetables. A some hibachi restaurants you'll get even more sauces, but Osaka serves only two. And unfortunately, neither of them were very good. The ginger sauce was too watery, and the white/pink sauce for the meat didn't taste like any particular ingredient I could identify.
This isn't to say that I disliked everything. Both the chicken and steak were both quite tasty, and the vegetables were copious and varied. All items combined, it was plenty of food for any diner.
There's also a sushi bar. Most of the selections looked like the usual Americanized stuff - California rolls and the like. It would be worth a try to ask the chefs to make something special, more traditionally Japanese.
Verdict: OK, but not up to Benihana or my favorite, Kobe Steak on Roswell Rd.