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Hamachi Steak House Review - Halifax, NS

Should have known better really. Water front location, outside tables, on the tourist trail; a recipe for a below par meal.
Teppanyaki is not the only option here; there are regular tables too. However, no one enquired when we booked whether we wanted the communal dining experience at the teppanyaki table, or just eat at a regular table. We arrived at our allotted time and there were vacant regular tables, but we were asked to wait ... and wait. After 20 minutes of standing in the bar we were offered a seat at the teppanyaki, but by this time we had decided to take a table for two rather than eat cafeteria style with a bunch of people we didn’t know. On a general level, the layout of the restaurant is not optimal. In a restaurant where there are evidently long wait times, even for those with reservations, it would make more sense to have a bar area that could accommodate more people.

The regular menu was as expected; a selection of grilled steaks, chicken and a token fish, salmon if I recall. Having been kept waiting we selected two appetizers to start. One arrived. The $9.00 Niku Balu - (seasoned tenderloin meatballs with pineapple chili dipping sauce). A good portion of average meatballs that were somewhat over cooked and served with just a dribble of dipping sauce. Another dribble of sauce was delivered on asking. No sign of the second appetizer however. When the waiter returned to advise on the progress of the second appetizer, he kindly delivered our entrées, promising that the Ebi Fry appetizer (black tiger shrimp, breaded and fried served with tonkatsu sauce) was on the way...

So, 2 medium rare steaks, one NY striploin and one porterhouse – I’m greedy, I like a little bit of the filet with my stiploin! Regrettably, neither was particularly outstanding considering their AAA status. To be fair, the NY striploin was passable. I managed to grab a piece off my girlfriends plate and it was tastier and more juicy than my Porterhouse, if a little over cooked for medium rare. For me, the buttery texture of the filet portion on the porterhouse is the best, and so it proved here. Had the striploin portion of my steak been as good as my girlfriends striploin, I would have less to complain about, alas, it was not. The striploin portion was tough and flavorless. I expect it to be more chewy than the filet portion of course, but certainly not tough. For two steaks costing in excess of $30 a piece, these were mediocre at best. Needless to say we didn’t stay for desert.

The second appetizer? It did arrive! Just after our entrée landed. Good try, but not good enough for a restaurant where two steaks, one and a half appetizers, two martini’s (had to do something while we waited!) and a glass or red wine cost you over $100. Halifax is blessed with an abundance of excellent restaurants, unfortunately this is not one of them. If all you want is a nice steak, try The Keg.

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  1. I can't comment on Hamachi, having never eaten there, but your mention of The Keg deserves a comment. Some people tend to look down their nose at The Keg -- after all, it is a national chain, it advertises heavily on TV, it uses pictures for some of the featured items on table cards -- but I have been there dozens of times and I have always enjoyed it. The steaks are good, the food consistent, and the prices offer reasonable value. It isn't gourmet food, but for a nice appetizer salad, a good steak and a few glasses of red wine in a casual setting with friends, without totally breaking the bank, I would highly recommend it.

    1. Thanks Greg

      Yes, perhaps a little unkind of me to associate a chain steakhouse with Hamachi. They position themselves in differnet markets entirely. I too have had many a decent steak at the Keg restaurants - they do what they do very well. What suprised me was that the independent Hamachi wasn't able to do as well for the same price. Oh well, lesson learned eh!

      Going back to Da Maurizo's next week so will hopefully enjoy another fine meal there and its just across the street from Hamachi!

      Cheers
      TC

      1. Curmudgeon:

        When I left Halifax back in '80 Suisha Gardens had opened in what was the AT&T building or something to that effect at the base of Spring Garden Rd. on what I think was Barrington.

        It too had pseudo-Teppan dining as I recall. Nothing very memorable.

        Mind you back in those days my idea of fine dining were steaks [?] and boiled dinners from the Midtown, wing steaks from the Derby, roast beef from the Tartan Room, fish and chips from Camille's.....oh how Halifax has changed.

        Envy you heading to da Maurizio's...I salivate thinking of their taglietlle quatro formaggi or their duck or pumpkin ravioli with orange sauce. Great restaurant.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bob Mac

          Hey Bob.

          For what it's worth, just last week, Jim L was through here. I took him to the Midtown becasue it was Boiled Dinner Day. Look for his thoughts on it in about a month. We know each other form old Compuserve beer and spirits forum days.

          Jeff

        2. Camille's, oh what a memory. I was a sailor in the Navy many moons ago and remember Mama's well. I live in Edmonton, AB now but my wife of 18 months and I are heading for Slackers in a week and a half. She loves seafood, is Mama's still open? if not, where is the best seafood restaurant for an old salt to take an Edmonton girl who's never been to the Maritimes?

          1. Camille's is long gone now, unfortunately. General concensus for the best fish and chips in town is Phil's Seafood on Quinpool, but be advised that it is not in the Camille's style with a pancake-style batter -- Phil's is more of a crumb breading. Very good though. More in the Camille style is Fries & Co. on Chebucto Rd. but I prefer Phil's. No frills in either place. If you are looking to take your wife somewhere a bit more upscale for seafood try McKelvies, the Five Fishermen, or Little Fish.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Greg B

              Greg is sooooo right. I like to pop out to the original Phils on Purcells Cove Road when I can. More "diner" than restaurant.

              There is a F&C place out in Eastern Passage (not Boondocks) that is also very good, and more like Camilles, but with larger portions.

              1. re: Brewnoser

                I think you're referring to Wharf Wraps. Good stuff there, though I hate the name.

                1. re: Brewnoser

                  Just thought I would let you know that the original Phil's is no more. I'm not sure if they are doing some renovated but the building was gutted and the sign has been gone for months now. (I pass every day ion the way to work).
                  There is another F&C place on Pleasant St in Dartmoutn called John's which is also highly spoken of, my brother will vouch for the Haddock tips.
                  I do like Wharf Wraps as well.

              2. Is the Midtown in Halifax? We are moving to Lunenburg shortly and I am collecting info on where to get my major fixes, and you said the magic words "Boiled Dinner"...now is that New England style (with corned beef) or Newfoundland (salt beef)? I'll take it either way!

                1 Reply
                1. re: LJS

                  Like the name implies, it is right in the middle of Halifax's downtown. Corner of Sackville and Grafton. Like almost everything else at the Midtown, the boiled dinner is in the "Midtown Style". The meat is more like ham to me.

                  In Lunenburg you can do fine dining at Fleur de Sel, but I hang out at The Knot when I'm in town. One of the best true pubs in the Province. You'll figure it out.

                2. Brewnoser (sorry, my server is not supporting the direct reply function today),

                  I wanted to tell you I will be watching for your recco's as our tastes seem to run on similar lines. Our daughter is really into food and working her way through Kings by part-time jobs at Da Maurizio's cousin on Spring Garden Road (forgotten the name and the fish stall at the Market.) She is a superb from-scratch young cook, having learned in Italy. Thanks to her,our family had already discovered Fleur de Sel and made it the place for special occassions.

                  Plus, we have been to The Knot and it is great: only regret is that we are not yet at a stage of life where we can live year-round in NS.

                  I'd be interested in knowing what you think about The Esquire in Bedford?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: LJS

                    The Esquire reminds me of the restaurants my folks took me to when I was a kid in the 1960s. Pretty basic, though pleasant enough. I'm not crazy about it to be honest.

                    Your daughter works at Il Mercato, one of my favorite places.

                    The Midtown boiled dinner is one of my faves -- "corned shoulder", boiled potatoes, cabbage, carrots... gimme lots of mustard and butter and we're really cooking. I can never decide what I like better there: the boiled dinner, the hamburger (more like a giant meatball), or the meatloaf special on Tuesdays. Put a gun to my head to decide and I'll take the meatloaf.

                    1. re: Greg B

                      Speaking of common tastes.... except for the boiled dinner, which I like, but am not in love with (too many corn beef versions growing up) I totally echo Greg B's post. I've eaten at the Esquire, and it is good, fair family dining that I hope is never replaced by the Keystone Kelly's of the world, but with the exception of home made pies (they still have them, I hope) nothing to get excited about. Da Maurizio is owned by the same family as Il Mercado (they also have another Il Mercado in Bedford in the same mall as Pete's Frootique), and, in my opinion, far better (simply amazing flavour extraction for sauces) but also pricier.

                      The Bedford place seems much better prepared if you must take along some "rugrats" <g> as their customer base would be more in the procreative mode than the downtown version.

                      But I'm with Greg on the Midtown's meatloaf. That is my preferred special - Tuesday.

                      Watch the Chowhound tour part of the site - in a couple of weeks the web team should catch up with Jim Leff and he may cover his visit to the Midtown.

                      Also down the shore, in Mahone Bay, there are several great places to eat. I tend to just hit the Mug and Anchor pub, where on a nice day you can practically sit out on the harbour, seemingly at sea while on their upper story deck. I've eaten well and eaten poorly there, but at least they have good beer on tap.

                      1. re: Brewnoser

                        Does gregb or brewnoser know when the midtown is closing? I want to make sure I get there one last time, at least!!

                        1. re: spazita

                          spazita:

                          If you do, have a Keith's and a plate of fried pepperoni for me as I will not be able to make a "road trip" from Alberta to say a personal good-bye.

                          I think of the Midtown every time I make a boiled dinner or talk about steaks [?] with friends who went to school with me at Dal in the '70's.

                          Truth be known it was the original Moosehead with the red label I drank back then...mimic a set of moose antlers and the cold beer was on one's table from one of the "da boyz" waitering.

                          1. re: spazita

                            I haven't heard a firm date yet. The story at the time of the building sale was that they had a year to run the place before it closed. That would make it sometime this fall, I believe.

                    2. Brewnoser, and GregB, thanks for tips and perspective on Esquire-we are looking forward to spending more time in the area...now as I am a newbie to this Board can you clarify the reference to Jim Leff and the web team "catching up"? Where should I be looking?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LJS

                        Jim's ongoing records of Chowhounding North America is in the Blogs section of the site - here is where you can find the Midtown adventure www.chow.com/tour/1902 The different episodes prior to this one, and after t, describe some of his eatings on in Atlantic Canada.

                        I see he may be in Mexico by now?

                      2. food excellent but all the staff left except 1 kid (who was obvisously new) and there was still 14 clients still in having dinner. dessert and drink orders never brought or all screwed up and the guys telling us oops everyone left and no it wasnt even near close time. Bill totals were over $1600. thats twice service has been poor when we went there both times because staff vanished, i guess best advice is to aviod this place on weekdays.

                        1. I can comment on Hamachi I have eaten there several times the food and ambiance are fantastic. On the other hand I have eaten at the Keg and everytime I have been there my steak was never cooked correctly. Even when sent back to be done over they still could not get it right. The food takes forever to get and the atmosphere is noisy and the waiters are all in a huge hurry. The way I look at it I would rather wait a little longer and have my food cooked properly then wait forever and feel unsatisfied with my meal.

                          Another way to eleviate poor service is to speak up at the time and speak to someone who has clout and voice your opinion as I did sometimes they will reduce your bill or give you a freebie for next time.