Last week we were in the mood for hibachi so decided to try out Benihana of Toyko in Harrisburg, PA since we'd hear good things about it. (I have a house in PA and also an apartment in NC, just to clarify that I did NOT drive 6 hours just for a visit to this Benihana.) We decided to go on a Saturday night so I called on Friday night and made a reservation for the hibachi tables...6 people for 6pm. We got to the restaurant right at 6pm Saturday and I was immediately glad that I had made the reservation since there were close to 40people waiting in the lobby to be seated...I thought we were good cause we had a reservation. Apparently reservations don't mean anything at Benihana. We waited 1.25 hours for a table WITH a reservation! There were people coming in after us who were quoted with 45minute waits...so apparently it would have been faster to NOT have a reservation...I asked the manager about it and he said if we didn't have a reservation we probably wouldn't be seated at all that night and an hour plus wait with a reservation is normal. REALLY?!? I hate waiting for food. Especially BAD food. It was the worst hibachi food I've ever had...and it was EXPENSIVE! Not to mention that the service was terrible...they will definitely not be mistaken for being friendly there! The hibachi "show" was subpar, they don't fry the rice unless you ask (which we didn't know) and the steak I ordered "medium" was RARE at best...I took one bite of the bloody meat and nearly vomited...I don't like my steak rare...I couldn't finish the meal. The hibachi chef was not nice and I would barely even describe as "pleasant." We asked for soy sauce and they wouldn't take the time to get a bottle for the table, instead the chef squirted a bit from his bottle on our food. When you pay $30plus for a meal you would expect friendly service, tasty food, and a nice atmosphere. We were packed into the tables like sardines and there was no ambiance...pictures on the wall, etc. I would NEVER go back to Benihana again...not even if it was a free meal.
Little Toyko on East Maynard Rd in Cary, NC on the other hand, was one of the best dining experiences I've had in quite some time! We stumbled upon this little restaurant while on a search for a mini-golf course that we never found. However, the large SUSHI sign across the top of the mini-mall did attract our attention so we walked in for some and were VERY pleasantly surprised. The sushi was FRESH and FAST! I felt like we were in an episode of Seinfeld...but this time it was the one where Jerry is the only one in the restaurant and the owner pays attention to every detail and fills his water after every sip. Little Toyko was FANTASTIC! They brought out a free appetizer that was a seafood combo served in a beautiful shell with flames around the side. Then we had our meals and they also brought us two free spicy tuna tempura that was delicious! And after dinner brought us black bean ice cream for both of us...which Xan had to eat since I don't do the dairy thing...but I did try a little taste cause it wasn't a heavy ice cream, more icy than cream. We will definitely be going back to Little Toyko...the service and food were top notch!! We even took home some food (I always have leftovers...especially with all the free food they gave us!) and brought two pairs of chopsticks to practice! Xan and I are going to learn Mandarin this year and are hoping to make it to Asia soon after we get the Chinese language down...I'm sure its not an easy one to learn but we are both excited about it!!