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MSP: anyone been to Osaka restaurant?

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  • Enso Feb 16, 2008 10:38 AM

It's in Eden Prairie, I think. Saw it on the west side of the freeway as I was zooming down 494, just north from where it makes that big curve. Sign says "Sushi and Hibachi". Just wondering if it's worth a try...

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  1. I just went to the location in Apple Valley. I was a little worried since it was in a strip mall but was pleasantly surprised. All we had was sushi ( no hibachi) but the fish was fresh and the rolls were very creative. They also had this spicy miso soup that was AWESOME. I wish Osaka was closer to me because it was one of the best sushi experiences I have had in the cities!

    1. I went there last fall (Apple Valley). Husband and I did the hibachi table. The food was oversalted (and yet somehow still bland), and it was about as far away from authentic Japanese food as you can get. (Fwiw, I am Japanese-American [nissei] and know my way around Japanese cuisine.) The "cream" dipping sauce (did they call it "lobster sauce"?) was reminiscent of mayonnaise, like a loose, liquid, orangey mayo. I think the hibachi came with a side of fried noodles - and it was sweet, really odd and sugary.

      I remember thinking that the meal was expensive for what it was. I don't recall what we ate specifically - probably husband had steak and I had chicken, 1 appetizer, no drinks (possibly hot tea), no dessert - and the bill was ~$50-60. If I'm going to pay that much, I'd really like it if the food was considerably better than what I could make at home. Ah well. The cook's display was typical - he juggled utensils, flipped shrimp tails into his hat, created the onion flame volcano, etc. He was no better or worse than other hibachi cooks. He seemed disappointed that no one at our table was drunk (more on that below).

      The worst part of the experience was the atmosphere. I usually don't give a damn about atmosphere, I don't notice noise levels, ambiance, wallpaper, table lamps, whatever - I enter restaurants hoping only for polite, prompt service and delicious, hot food. Anyway, I think we were there on a weeknight, but the "happy hour" crowd was going strong. Other tables were full of loud, giggling, drunk people - and I even saw a hibachi cook take his water squeeze bottle and squirt women in the cleavage while onlookers literally hooted and screamed with delight. That was hard to ignore because every table seemed to have a cadre of completely drunk customers. Also, a lot of people were celebrating birthdays the night we were there - for each one, the waitstaff brought out a special something (dessert, maybe?) for the guest of honor. Every time, these colored disco lights would start pulsating, and someone would come out with a drum and/or a gong and rhythmically grunt some kind of happy birthday message. I wondered whether other folks at the restaurant assumed this was a traditional Japanese way to celebrate birthdays (uh, it's not).

      I won't go back. I'd never bring my (Japanese) parents there. Much better food (and classier joints) exist elsewhere.

      7 Replies
      1. re: joshi

        whoa. just, . . whoa. :)

        there are more than one of these establishments, you're saying-- is it a local chain?

        do you have opinions on other japanese restaurants in & around msp? or favorites? where *would* you take your japanese parents, for example? are any suburban japanese restaurants worth driving *out* of the cities for, in your opinion?

        1. re: soupkitten

          I don't know if Osaka is a chain, I just went to the hibachi/sushi restaurant called Osaka in Apple Valley. Someone my husband works with had mentioned eating there, and we thought we'd check it out. We live in Northfield, so anything in the cities is a little bit of a trek for us (~1 hr of driving each way).

          I've tried a few Japanese restaurants since I moved to the area (OMG, almost 3 years ago now). I haven't found any that I've really liked, unfortunately, which means I've not found one that my parents would enjoy. To wit - Fuji-ya had really slow service the 1 time I went, the sushi came in slabs (I mean, when a single piece seems larger than, say, my tongue, that's a little too big), and the tuna had strips of gristle. Don't care to go back there.

          Tiger Sushi at MOA (I know, I know) had only 2 or 3 menu items that didn't have cream cheese or mayonnaise in it. Cripes. I specifically asked the waiter, too, and that's what he said. Don't care to go back there.

          Midori's Floating World (or whatever that's called) seemed all right, but I was with friends the one time I was there and was a bit too distracted to notice the food. (I hadn't seen this particular friend since high school graduation back in the early 90s, so we did more talking than eating.) I'd like to go back there again to check out the food more attentively.

          I had a fairly good chirashizushi dinner at another Japanese restaurant in Apple Valley, Kami. I've eaten their chirashizushi twice, in fact. The fish seemed fresh both times, the service was a little slow but not horribly so, and the prices were in line with my expectations. My husband (not a sushi eater) has ordered sort of run-of-the-mill cooked entrees (chicken teriyaki, and I think yaki soba?), and they were average, nothing to write home about.

          We had dinner once at Obento-ya - cute place, good food at decent prices, good service. We had gyoza for an appetizer. I had a compartmentalized bento meal, and I think my husband had curry rice (I don't see it on the menu, though - might have been a special). It's not fancy food - and considering the portion size, it seems like it would be a good lunch place. I didn't try the sushi. I'd go back there again.

          I've also tried buying sushi-grade tuna at Coastal Seafoods, but the fish there is best when cooked. I found frozen slabs of mackerel for sushi at United Noodle, but I've never tried it. I've heard people say good things about the sushi at Origami, but I have not made it out there yet (hard to motivate my husband to go to sushi restaurants).

          Fwiw, when my parents did come visit that 1 time, I took them to the state fair (they ate grilled pork chops on a stick), and we also went to Jun Bo for the dim sum on a Saturday. (They didn't state it outright, but I had the impression that they didn't like Jun Bo. They didn't eat much.) They weren't here for long. I think I cooked the rest of the time.

          I'm not sure that my summary is particularly helpful. I know I sound kind of down on a lot of restaurants around here, but I grew up near Chicago, went to graduate school in central NJ (and often dined in NYC), and lived in Boston when I did my postdoc, so I was accustomed to (and spoiled by) large cities with sizable ethnic populations and authentic restaurants. Coming to Minnesota was a bit of a culinary culture shock.

          The board on Chowhound has been a godsend for me - we've tried a number of enjoyable places after reading about them here. Most recently, we went to Kramrczuk's - loved the cabbage rolls. We've also gone to places like Cecil's Deli and Aribels - thumbs up for both. Husband and I have eaten at Peninsula on Eat Street numerous times and haven't had a single bad meal there. I like Quangs (also on Eat Street) a lot, but the pressed meat (meatloaf-like) dishes freak my husband out. There's a relatively new restaurant in Burnsville (Saigon Palace is the name, I think) - we had a custom dinner for a group recently (organized by a friend, but I think the menu was mostly chef's choice) that was pretty good (the shrimp egg rolls were astonishingly tasty).

          1. re: joshi

            thanks!

            here's a thread on sushi in msp that covers quite a bit--not sure if you've seen it. there isn't an equivalent thread on japanese restaurants generally--hmm.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367904

        2. re: joshi

          We didn't have hibachi, like I said and the sushi was really good. We actually had a birthday while we were there and we thought it was very cool that they brought our birthday girl dessert and sang to her. But we are silly like that.

          They also brought out these masks for the table which was a huge hit with the 3 year old at the table. Anyway, we had a good time and no - we were not drunk.

          1. re: joshi

            Sounds like a cheesy Benihana teppanyaki joint.

            1. re: bigchow

              It's basically a tacky version of Ichiban's. When I went there it was a friday night at 6 o clock and it was completely empty besides one family at a hibachi table. I went to the sushi bar, and when I asked the sushi chefs which fish were the freshest he told me that he didn't know, so I just ordered a sashimi dinner. When I got the sushi I noticed that it had a little ice on some of the octopus, when I asked the chef about it he told me it was supposed to be like that.

              Don't go to Osaka.

            2. re: joshi

              Thanks for the info, joshi, and for saying a bit about your background (this is a very helpful practice). I am purebred American (though some speculate I was Japanese in a past life). I have, however, lived in Japan for several years and that does tend to spoil one's palate for overly-Americanized versions. It also helped me gauge your tastes to hear your take on other J restaurants further on. I think I can safely give Osaka a miss. Now, to break it to my parents who are hoping to go to the one just about to open in the northern 'burbs for our family's winter babies birthdays {sigh}.

            3. My husband and I love love love Osakas. We have on down here in Tulsa Oklahoma and it's fabulous. The one we go to is Hibachi style. We love to start out with a purple haze which is a warm saki with chambourd which is a raspberry liquer but it doesn't taste like raspberries promise it's a must try. Down here what we get is called Osaka Favorite which is Filet and Lobster. Scrumptious the shrimp is great too. Their soup,salad,rice and grilled veggies are amazing too. Got to love the sauces that are served with your food both are great I like to mix the two sauces and put it on my fried rice yummy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jennbudder

                The Minnesota Osaka restaurants are a small chain with three or four locations all near Minneapolis. http://www.osakaseafoodsteakhouse.com/ The restaurant in Tulsa is a Teppanyaki-style restaurant (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teppanyaki ) and is in no way related to the Minneapolis restaurants. Osaka is a very common name for Japanese restaurants in the US, just as a lot of unrelated pizza places in the US have "New York" in their name. There is, for example, another small Osaka chain, unrelated to the MN or Tulsa restaurants, in California. See http://www.osakasushi.com/

              2. I've only been for lunch but have been many times as it is a favorite among the coworkers. I think the bar is pretty and we keep meaning to go for happy hour but just haven't made it yet. My buddy always gets a plate of rolls and I always get hibachi lunch - I think it's reasonably priced and a great hot lunch. I really like this place, I hope they succeed. (I am referring to the EP location.)

                1. Are you looking specifically for sushi? Tanpopo in downtown St. Paul is mostly a noodle restaurant. But they do usually have a small selection of sushi. And they have tonkatsu - and it's awesome. It's a small, homey place. The noodles (udon and soba) are fresh and delicious. I think the place is a treasure.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: halloweengal

                    I agree--I love love love Tanpopo, especially this time of year when a big bowl of noodles warms you from head to toe!

                    ~TDQ