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Jul 13, 2006 12:59 AM

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!


      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.


        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.