October 9, 2012

First Impression: Osechi Japanese Cuisine

There have been a handful of Japanese restaurants that dare enter the realm of chain restaurants and fast-food heaven, also known as the East end of Hamilton.  The first one came around 2004 and was quickly taken over by Popeye's. The next one was a shady AYCE restaurant beside Pho Dau Bo in the TD plaza. This was already headed for the deadpool even before they could light up the "OPEN" sign. We poked our heads in one night and laid eyes on the saddest buffet table I'd ever seen. 

Next up to the plate is Osechi Japanese Cuisine (also AYCE) located in the same spot as the previous AYCE joint. Osechi is a chain establishment from Markham. When we walked in we were promptly greeted by the hostess and seated right away. There were a few booths up front but a majority of the seating was behind the sushi bar.
The AYCE menu here is pretty extensive (100+ items) and has the same ordering system as August 8. Each table has an ordering sheet and each menu item has a number. You write down the menu item number along with the quantity and pass it off to a server. After we perused the menu, we placed our order and the items quickly started trickling out of the kitchen. The restaurant wasn't too busy when we walked in and service was really attentive and quick. 

We only ordered two rolls, the Volcano Roll - california roll, grilled salmon & bonito flakes, and the Pink Lady - spicy crab meat & smoked salmon. The Volcano Roll was a little on the fishy side because of the heavy mound of bonito flakes and I wish the Pink Lady came with raw salmon instead of the smoked salmon. I do like the fact that you only get a few pieces of each roll so you still have room to sample other things on the menu.
I was really surprised to see the korean seafood pancake on the menu and although it wasn't very authentic, and there was hardly any seafood in it,  I really liked it! It was thin and crispy, but they could loose the sauce drizzled on top. The kalbi was also really tender and not overcooked. I would have had more but the pieces were too fatty. The shrimp curry was a great portion size with four pieces of plump shrimp in a spicy coconut broth. This would have been delicious with some rice noodles. The cold tofu was horrid. I would never order this again and I don't understand why it's even on the menu. They were slices of cold tofu with a bottled kimchi sauce half-hazardly splattered on top. The tamago (sweet egg) was horrible as well. You could tell it wasn't made fresh, in fact, it tasted like it wasn't finished thawing out yet. Tamago is the easiest thing to make so I don't get why so many places mess this up. The Tom Yum soup was spicy and had great flavour. The mango salad, although fresh, was a little heavy on the fish sauce and they could have omitted the bell peppers since they didn't do anything to enhance the dish. 
 
They're offering 10% off for the grand opening and your bill also has a coupon for 15% off if you come back for dinner within the next fourteen days and pay cash. The service was prompt and attentive, which is a surprise sometimes with AYCE restaurants but in all honestly, I probably won't return. There wasn't anything mind blowing about the menu but they did have a few interesting items on the drink menu. If I'm cravin' AYCE I'd rather head out to August 8, cause then I could at least get me some chicken feet and shrimp rolls! 

Osechi Japannese Cusine
800 Queenston Road
Unit 16
Hamilton, On
www.osechi.ca
Osechi Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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