To be perfectly honest, after reading the online reviews, I was very nervous to use my Groupon at Watami Japanese Dining House. All I have read were horrible service and not so great food. Boy was I relieved when I walked in to see that not were we the first table of the evening – which meant they have no excuse for slow service – but that our server was a friend from school. I did not know her too well but it sure made our experience a great one! It is quite amusing how even the people you would normally just acknowledge all of sudden seem like they were your best buds when you meet elsewhere out in public. As such, she was incredibly nice, friendly, recommended some great dishes, and made the evening meal awesome. Add to that the quiet ambiance and overall cleanliness of the restaurant, a lovely meal was shared.
First on the table was my little pot of gold for the evening, or should I say my little pot of seafood and mushroom broth. The Matsutake Dobin Mushi was simply that, with matsutake mushrooms, shrimp, and an assortment of small fish pieces in the best seafood broth I have ever had. More ingredients would have been nice but the taste of the soup made up for it. At $9, it was expensive to be sure. However, I just loved the sweet, rich tasting broth. It was very fresh but not fishy. Served in an extremely cute teapot, the sweet, warm broth certainly replaced my tea for the night!
With myself currently in a ‘special roll’ mood, I just had to try their Beauty Roll. It consists of cucumber, avocado, imitation crab, salmon, and tuna wrapped in BBQ eel. The roll was huge and the ingredients plentiful. The avocado added some creaminess and the imitation crab was quite sweet, which was good for what it was. I would have liked more salmon than tuna but there was a decent amount of fish inside. The BBQ unagi on top was a bit thin, but it sure was full of that sweet BBQ flavour! It was soft and tender, although I did get a few bones in one of the pieces. The rice was on the hard side but the flavour was good with a nice balance of sweetness and vinegar. Overall, the generous amount of ingredients in the roll definitely made it good.
Our server friend recommended the Seafood Yakisoba, which had great flavour. The two mussels were tender yet still chewy, and while there were not much shrimp and octopus, there were plenty of salmon and chunks of other fish. I found the fish to be overcooked and dry without much flavour, but at least the noodles were nicely done. They were quite chewy and flavourful, as were the cabbage and carrots. I also liked the sprinkled nori on top to add to the seafood aspect of the dish. In general, I love stir fried rice and noodle dishes, and this was no exception. The noodles were definitely the better part of the dish, which is slightly disappointing as the seafood was supposed to be the star.
Finally, since my dinner friend is not a big fan of sashimi and certain types of seafood, we ordered an Ika Teriyaki Robata. I have never had robata before but I figure grilled squid in teriyaki sauce would taste pretty good. I was right. The squid was chewy but still tender – the perfect texture. It was not drenched in teriyaki sauce but the flavour was there. It was nicely grilled and came out quite hot. However, slightly more sauce would have been nice as I am such a huge fan of sweet sauces. The tentacles were a bit harder to chew, but I liked giving my jaws a little work to do. They were rather chewy and firm, yet springy. It was a nice, sweet end to the meal.
While the prices were perhaps quite high for the food they serve – since it was not upscale, fine dining but instead, rather casual – with the Groupon, it was a great deal. I was just extremely glad the service part turned out nicely. I would suggest to go when they are not too busy so you can really take in the lovely decor and atmosphere of the quaint little place. When there are not too many people, parking is ample and everything ends up being quite nice. With a Groupon next time, I will definitely try some of their sashimi and a few other of their special rolls and robata.