My Restaurant Review - Shiki near Coolidge Corner
My friends and I went to Shiki on a busy Saturday night. We ordered broiled black cod, broiled salmon, fried soft shell crab, avocado salad, ochazuke, nabeyaki udon and other dishes I cannot recall (unfortunately, I only remember the entrées that I actually ate.)
Good: 1) Excellent food quality, 2) great sake list, 3) moderate prices, 4) great opportunity to try other types of Japanese cuisine (since most of Japanese restaurants in Boston serve mainly sushi)
Bad: small portions
Ugly: 1) Rude and unfriendly wait staff – waitress demanded we order more food (we ordered at least 1 entrée per person – isn’t that usually enough? And, shouldn’t customers decide how much food to order? ), waited about 30 minutes for the bill to arrive (but manager was in a rush to make us pay) and our waitress was rarely around the restaurant.
2) No waiting area – if you arrive when the restaurant is full, you’ll have to either wait outside the restaurant or inside the restaurant. The restaurant is bit cramped; the tables located near front door will have to eat while waiting customers stand and look over the shoulders of seated customers. (We sat as far from the front door as possible, so this was not an issue. But, if I had to eat a meal while someone was standing behind me the entire time, I’d be irritated.)
Overall, food was good even though the portions were small. Service was inattentive and below average at best - maybe the waitstaff had an "off" night. The ambiance is ok, as long as you don’t sit near the front door. Location is bit odd and unexpected. I would cautiously recommend this restaurant based on my so-so experience. I probably won’t go back any time soon; I’ll just wait patiently until my next NYC visit. (I'd rather eat Matsugen or Yakitori Totto any day)
i might be biased since i love the food and like the staff at shiki, but here're my $0.02:
i've often had slow service there (i think they're perpetually understaffed - it's basically a family business), but i've never had rude service. and telling a customer that they should order more food is not necessarily rude. here we have a case of a restaurant that serves small dishes and customers who seem to not know what portion size to expect. nothing wrong with not knowing, but that's exactly when advice from a waitress can be seen as helpful rather than rude.
of course, a lot depends on the exact wording and demeanor. but, eek331, in the end you have to admit that the waitress WAS right: even you thought you didn't get enough food.
I've had pretty slow service there as well, including a wait just to get a check. Being asked to order more is indeed pretty rude.
I agree the portions are typical for this type of cuisine. Not only is it a different kind of restaurant, but the food is in a different league than Tampopo, or anything in Porter Exchange (even though I'm a fan of Cafe Mami).
I think there is a small bar. I'd actually expect a typical izakaya atmosphere to be more crowded (er... cozy and warm?). It's just a little too quiet and subdued to capture the experience you get in other cities...
Hmmmm, that's unfortunate about the service! We've always had slow but pleasant service at Shiki. I think when things are crowded, there can be a backlog.
The portion sizes are 100% standard for izakaya fare, though--think tapas, not entrees. The norm is indeed to order a whole bunch of little dishes to accompany liberal amounts of alcohol (but I've rarely seen this enforced anywhere). Come to think of it, crowded is also pretty authentic for an izakaya-- in fact, it's unusual that they have only tables and no bar/counter. The spots at Porter Exchange really aren't an apt comparison-- it's a totally different kind of restaurant, and Shiki seems to be the only place in town serving up this style of izakaya dishes.
We encountered rude and unfriendly wait staff on our first and only visit to Shiki too. The place is stylish, the food is generally good but the service killed it for me. Very surprising for a Japanese restaurant with Japanese staff. Better to go to Tampopo or other food shops in Porter Sq.