Location, location, location. Stunning views. Lush gardens. But somehow, Yamashiro still left a bad taste in my mouth, and it wasn’t only from the food.
I can’t stress more how much I wish that I could write a rave review about this restaurant. It had everything going for it: location, views, potential ambience and what could have been an inventive menu. It’s like the unfortunate “good on paper” guy referenced in Sex and the City (ok, if I can make a Friends reference about an eggplant, I’m going to make a SATC reference here). Yamashiro had all the credentials of what could be an extraordinary restaurant, but it fell so, so short.
My first tip off should have been the virtually deserted restaurant. I chalked it up to the fact that our reservations were on the earlier side (7PM), and thought there must be more people coming the later. By the time we left (around 9:30), the restaurant remained well below capacity. The people have spoken, and would clearly rather spend their Friday nights (and $$) at other, better places in LA.
The restaurant itself felt like a burnt-out child star. It might have been the place to be years ago, but its true age still shows through. The interior was in desperate need of a paint job. There were were severely worn spots on the walls. The carpet was so worn down, you could visibly see the areas that had the most foot traffic. You can’t charge these exorbitant prices and desperately try to be a a “fine” dining restaurant with the interior in the poor shape it’s in.
We were seated on the side of the restaurant with a lovely view of Century City the valet parking lot:
Ok. I can deal with a mediocre view (the views at the front of the restaurant were much, much more impressive). But a less-than-stellar appetizer that came highly recommended by the waiter? No bueno. Upon asking how the Tropical Albacore Ceviche was, the waiter made a face that talked me out of it before he even said anything. He recommended we go with the Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice:
The greatest things on this plate were the micro arugula and caviar. And that’s an issue, when those are the garnishes. The spicy tuna was like eating paste, and the spices overwhelmed the tuna to the point where I couldn’t even taste tuna. At all. The rice was more along the lines of sweet sticky rice, or a slightly dry risotto. It was reminiscent of thick glue, and the only hint of any “crispy” rice was found on one (yes, just one) piece that had been overcooked one one side. And it was more hard than crispy. If this was supposed to be better than the ceviche, I don’t even want to know how awful that is.
We were less than halfway into the meal and I’m already thinking “Please let something come along and salvage this meal.” I had high hopes for the main dishes. Those hopes were quickly shattered.
Mom ordered the Shoyu Glazed Black Cod:
Dad ordered standard sushi, which wasn’t great, but wasn’t too bad (and a little on the tiny side):
My brother ordered the Crunchy Roll (which he reviewed as “very crunchy”):
I decided to go with the seared ahi tuna. The plate came out piping hot. The potatoes and spinach were equally hot. The tuna was warm, at best. How that’s even possible when it’s sitting on a ridiculously hot plate, I’ll never figure out:
I was disappointed to see that the dessert menu wasn’t asian-inspired at all. I was hoping for something along the lines of tempura ice cream, but was presented with (however tasty sounding) standard American dessert-fare. We decided to go with the Yama S’mores, mostly because the name was the most catchy thing on the menu. And it involved chocolate. And marshmallows.
The dessert, with a scoop of rocky road ice cream, topped with a homemade graham cracker. The puffy brown mass on the right is a balloon of toasted marshmallow cream atop a thick chocolate bar, on top of a chocolate cake:
See, it really is marshmallow cream inside:
This was good. Nothing extraordinary, but at least we finally had something more than mediocre to come across our table. It’s unfortunate that it was the only non-asian-inspired dish:(
Yamashiro gets an overall C- (we aren’t in the D range, only because of the view and the s’mores). Save your money (or spend it at any one of the much more inspired and quite frankly, better restaurants in LA). Thankfully, my dad had found a deal on Groupon.com. IMHO, even with the deal, the dishes were not worth the money. I’ve had much more phenomenal meals at places that are a fraction of the cost of Yamashiro.
I hate to end this post on a sour note (and I’d like to put it out there how sad I was writing such a bad review on a restaurant I was looking forward to) so I’ll leave you with the only redeeming quality of the restaurant. The view of the twinkling lights of la la land:
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