Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bushi-tei Bistro

Just before I jetted off to NY for the holiday madness, my Omnivore and I took the opportunity to try out bushi-tei's new bistro in the Japantown aisle of death under the Webster Street bridge. It's an odd space that looks small from outside but is actually pretty huge once you get inside.

We're big fans of the original fine-dining Bushi-tei restaurant that's just up the street, but I'm sorry to say that we found this new place to be up and down, both in terms of service and food.

Gyoza were small and delicate but delicious and not a bad deal at around $6.80.

This is my Kurabuta pork cutlet "katsu" which was tasty and succulent with a terrific tangy sauce on it. Vegetables though, were underseasoned and so-so, including roasted peppers and Japanese eggplant that was a touch underdone.

My Omnivore had the scallops--three nice fresh fat scallops, well seasoned and seared. The dish was billed as including kiwi which sounded interesting, but though we could see the seeds from the fruit on the plate, the flavor was nowhere to be noticed. This was piled onto cubes of roasted potatoes which were okay though not crispy, which is how I personally like such things and a scoop of the same veggies I had had. And while the scallops were good, as my Omnivore pointed out, he could easily have made just as tasty scallops at home, so it hardly seemed worth the price.

Dessert. We almost skipped it because they were apparently out of the one thing we wanted to try which was the Beignets with KATSUMITSU-- and yes, in the menu it was all in caps. Described as a sort of sweet honey it sounded intriguing but we got the creme brûlée instead. Good choice as it turns out. It was one of the better items we'd had that night with a nicely creamy creme and a thin crunchy crust of caramelized sugar. The blackberry confiture on the side was more jamlike but made a nice compliment to the brûlée.

Altogether with a glass of wine, matters came to around $55, but for that price there's better food to be had. In fact you could just head up the street to the real bushi-tei and do their brunch special, which is about the same prcie-range and far superior food and service.

Speaking of service, a final note: our first server was quite friendly and helpful, offering wine advice and tastes of by-the-glass selections when we had trouble deciding. The second server, however, left something to be desired. Twice, without even asking, she tried to remove our plates before we had finished the food on them. She had my plate halfway in the air when I objected the first time, "Um, I'm not quite done with that." The second time she did the same thing and I just gave up and watched it sail off-- the food wasn't worth the fight.

At the end of the evening she dropped the check before we'd even half finished dessert-- there wasn't room on the table so she put it on the empty table next to ours-- and when she cleared the dessert plates she emphatically plonked it in the middle as if to say, "You're done. Now would you get the heck out of here?!"

We stared at each other, My Omnivore and I, and then at the check. "Jeez, if I didn't have to get on a plane in few hours I'd say we should just let it sit there and not leave for a couple of hours."

But it wasn't worth the fight. The ambiance had already fled.

- Posted from my iPhone

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