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Avoid Gonpachi (Azabu-Juban, Roppongi)

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Hi guys,

I just returned from Gonpachi, the place that allegedly featured in Tarantino's "Kill Bill". Long story short, the terrible dining experience there made me so mad, that I want to warn you guys to absolutely avoid this place.

We ordered Yakitori, some Tofu dishes, Tempura, and fried Spagetti. We also had a few large bottles of beer. Not only was the food of really average to poor quality, but the portions where the smallest I have ever seen in Japan and the service just insulting. It literally took us several attempts before a waiter would take our order. I must add that all of us are fluent in Japanese so this cannot have been a language issue. It just seemed they don't give a damn.

Every single dish we ordered lacked any character and was completely generic. The tempura tasted oily, they didnt even serve soy sauce with the Tofu.

In the end, we decided to cut our losses and left after about 40 minutes. Still we paid 12000 yen for 4, which is -considering the quality of the food, and the size of the portions- absolutely unacceptable.

To sum it up it is as very overpriced Isakaya with no locals and unfriendly waiters. I don't know how this place was before Tarantino found it, but this night it was a tourist trap of the worst kind and has been the worst dining experience I ever had in Japan in the last 2 years.

Avoid at all costs.

-Scharn

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  1. When you ask Japanese about Gonpachi, they will suck their teeth, go "maa nee", and tell you that Koizumi took Clinton and GWB there during state visits. That's Japanese for "stay away".

    4 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      In fact my super style-savvy aoyama hairdresser recommended it. All her other recommendations were on the money, so I'm not sure if that was never an actual recommendation but a joke I just didn't get?

      Funny thing is my Taxi driver didnt like it either. So when he asked me where I went that night (well, I started the conversation cause I was bored it it takes forever) I told him about Gonpachi, the food and the crowd there and he was like: "Nono, this is *not* a place for foreigners, this is a place for *Americans*. That is a big difference." I thought that was funny, and maybe that's true: I did some online research and it seems many many tourists like Gonpachi. It's also recommended in lots of guides...

      1. re: Scharn

        Where else did your "super style-savvy" hairdresser recommend? By the way, "super style-savvy" may not be compatible with "Chowhound savvy" but you probably knew that already. She may have slipped back into Japanese and made an assumption about what kind of place an "American" or a "foreigner" may like, and that's what came to mind. You know, Koizumi took Clinton and GWB there, and therefore "Americans" will like it, no? The "Americans" probably read it in a magazine or a travel guide, and if it is in a magazine, it must be good, right?

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          Mostly where to buy clothes, but these were really nice small clothes shops in Shimokitazawa, Kichijoji, the complete opposite of a Gonpachi. But you're off course right -- she never recommended a restaurant. And I remember I told her, I would have to entertain some foreigner friends, and that's when she was like "go to gonpachi"... It all makes sense now... ;-)

          1. re: Scharn

            Naruhodo nee...

    2. It's in Nishi Azabu, not Azabu Juban, surrounded by 3 or 4 of some other Global Dining mini empire branches.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        Hi Silverjay,
        I am booked in for Gonpachi at the end of the year based on my hotels reccomendation.
        Based on this review I am thinking its a bad idea.
        Could you think of another place with a similar atmosphere but more noteworthy food?

        1. re: Marchez

          Look into a branch of Uoshin.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Thanks Silverjay, I will.

      2. A Japanese friend avoids it like the plague. He describes Gonpachi as a place that makes you feel like you're dining in a Japanese restaurant in the U.S.

        4 Replies
        1. re: BaronDestructo

          About 6 months ago I found myself drunk and with a hungry girlfriend. HungryGirl wanted soba or salad, something healthy and we were in the area so went to Gonpachi.

          My first beer came out lukewarm, a first for me in any country. I was shocked, the server must not have cared. It's pretty hard to overlook something like that.
          I called him back, ordered a COLD beer and enjoyed it while HG wolfed down her salad. I think she had no complaints, there aren't a lot of salads in the area at 11:45 at night.

          1. re: lost squirrel

            On the other hand, the uber dive-of-dives, the Kaotan Ramen at the edge of the cemetery will serve you a cold one at all times of day and night! And the ramen is pretty good, to boot.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              Amen to that.

              1. re: Asomaniac

                Unfortunately HungryGirl was not up for ramen at the time, next time..

        2. bu the gonpach in shibuya is quite nice and the food is as well nice...in nishi azabu it was really dreadfull but if you have to go try the one in shibuya

          1 Reply
          1. re: nikakon

            I've been to the Gonpachi in Ginza and the food wasn't terrible although nothing to write home about.

          2. Granted, it's really expensive, the food isn't as bad as you say. You seem to have ordered the generic stuff you can find at any izakaya. I ordered the foie gras which was absolutely amazing! The camembert and avocado tempura was also pretty good. The drinks are really overpriced (which is probably what burned that hole in your wallet), service is a bit mediocre, but in terms of food, I think this place is actually pretty good. I live in Japan and have eaten at many many other places. If you want cheap food, DO NOT go to an izakaya, particularly in Roppongi.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tecbarrera

              No it's not, but we'll let you slide on this one, since you posted this over two years ago.

            2. It's the flagship location of a very mediocre chain restaurant that is often found near amusement parks and old shopping malls. It's like a Japanese Howard Johnson with the Nishi-Azabu one happening to have a great location. Walk across the intersection heading West. The second small street, make a right. Walk 75 meters there will be a little house type thing on your right. Either go in there (Butagami tonkatsu) or go into the door under the Christian cross looking flag that says "These"- this is a Library Bar- get the vegetable or pork curry or ask if they will make the old favorite French toast.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jet lagged

                Well, if you are already headed in that direction, why not go alittle further and try 13 Aprile (next door to Butagumi)? Italian with 10% Japanese influence, amazingly charming. Agree on avoiding Gonpachi, and have enjoyed These (mostly for Euro style nibblings with wine and cocktails, I have never had the curry) and Butagumi.