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Unpleasant experience at CAGEN Sushi in East Village (former Kaijitsu space)

Decided to try Cagen after reading positve reviews of the place. I didn't realize at first I already been to that space when it was Kaijitsu which moved uptown. There was one other party in back and I waited for 3 other of my guests to arrive. Won't elaborate on the food except to say what I had was good-I'll explain my problem. After 1st course of the tasting menu I was famished and asked for a bowl of rice to tide me over between courses. I was told they didn't have rice as a side dish-so I questioned why?? Anyway I asked waitress 4 times!!! Finally they "obliged" me with a small bowl of rice which I devoured and asked for a 2nd bowl. The chef got into the act (the owner himself who was slicing the fish in front of us) and said no more rice-as if he was the rice Nazi!!! At that point I exclaimed -I'm out of here and asked for my check midway thru the omakase tasting. My guests elected to stay which is fine with me but why would I put up with such a response especially when paying top dollar!! I never will go back to this business, not because of the food but because being treated in that manner is unacceptable for my dollar.

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  1. How long was it between courses?

    You should have been thankful that you received the 1st bowl of rice. Asking for a 2nd bowl was demanding. You come across as a spoiled, entitled person and when you did not get what you wanted you stormed out. Very impertinent. I bet the 3 other guests were embarrassed...I would be if I was was there.

    13 Replies
    1. re: pbjluver

      This. Perhaps they only prepare enough rice for service that night and were concerned about running out? No restaurant is obligated to serve you something that isn't on their menu just because they have it.

      The customer is not always right.

        1. re: loratliff

          Rice takes 20 minutes-tops-to prepare.

          1. re: UES Mayor

            How long was it between courses?

            Would you have happily waited the 20 minutes it takes to prepare more rice?

            1. re: pbjluver

              I was well aware that I was dining in a sushi restaurant where rice is already cooked waiting to be served. I saw with my own eyes the large amount of already cooked rice! The chef simply didn't want me to have a supplement served to me for reasons beyond my knowledge. You don't and should not expect that each serving of rice is prepared to order. It's rice!! Not duck ala orange.

            2. re: UES Mayor

              That doesn't mean that they have a limitless supply.

              1. re: UES Mayor

                37 minutes on my high end sharp IH copper rice cooker in regular mode, 20 on quick mode, but doesnt taste as good.

            3. re: pbjluver

              The other 3-one of which is a nephew stayed but texted me to say the chef was wrong to not have obliged. I wasn't behaving in a "spoiled brat" way of any sorts. It certainly was or should not have been a matter of having enough rice for the evening-we were the only party there at that time-the only other party that was there when I came had already eaten. Like I said, the food I did have was fine-I just happened to be starving from waiting for guests to arrive and the initial bowl of rice was so small! I also am not one to feel or act entitled-to suggest so is wrong. I am a very well behaved ues mayor-I only get unrully when something as ridiculous as this happens!!

              1. re: pbjluver

                Why would you say asking for a 2nd bowl was demanding? If you want a 2nd serving of anything you ask for it? And I pay for it! I wasn't expecting it for free!! That would be demanding!

                1. re: UES Mayor

                  I don't think asking for rice was being unreasonable, the restaurant is in the business of hospitality. They should try to accommodate where possible. It's not like you asked for their first-born. I was at a 4 star restaurant for a special occasion and the room was too hot for my bf who started sweating profusely and took off his jacket. When the jacket came off the head waiter rushed over and told him that his jacket must stay on, heedless of the sweat, the warmth of the room or any concern about us as guests. That was only one part of a horrible experience there.

                  They should have realized that UES Mayor was hungry from his request for rice, it was really poor manners not only to refuse rice but to also ignore his obvious hunger.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    It was wrong to "ignore his obvious hunger"? It's a restaurant; he was going to get fed. UES Mayor isn't a 2-year-old (although his actions may suggest otherwise) and the restaurant was not his babysitter.

                    1. re: loratliff

                      If I had a guest that was really hungry I'd try to figure things out, I'd like my guests to be happy and comfortable, I really don't think it was a big deal for him to request more rice. Maybe it's a Chinese thing, but a guest requesting lots of rice means that I didn't provide enough food and I wouldn't be upset with the guest, I'd be upset with myself.

                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        Sorry, but I don't think this equates at all with your example of the hypothetical guest in your home who is hungry and requests more food.

                        From Wikipedia:

                        'Omakase (お任せ o-makase?) is a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it to you" (from Japanese "to entrust" (任せる makaseru?)). In Japan it can be used at any restaurant.'

                        The same reference also states: "In American English, the expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef."

                        The idea of an omakase meal is that you leave it entirely to the chef, not that you demand other food whenever the mood strikes you. If you want a particular dish or food on demand, then you should order a la carte.

                        The OP stated that he had ordered an omakase meal. If the OP was so ravenously hungry that he just couldn't stand the wait between courses, then he ordered the wrong thing. I don't see how that's the restaurant's fault.

                        And according to his own description of the incident, he didn't simply request more food, he *demanded* (four times!) to know why they didn't have rice as a side dish. Even after they accommodated his demand for rice on the side he demanded a second helping.

                        And when he didn't get his way he demanded his bill and left in the middle of the meal. That's his own description.

                        You may feel differently, but if I had a guest like that in my house, I'd be happy if he left. In fact, I like to think I'd invite him to leave if that's the way he wants to behave.

              2. The fact that your friends stayed speaks volumes. They are your FRIENDS and chose to side with the chef, a stranger, and not you.

                2 Replies
                1. re: thegforceny

                  That's true. I might go check it out, since even the OP says what he had was good.

                  1. re: thegforceny

                    They didn't side w chef-they were just hungry and texted me later to say how wrong chef was.

                  2. you keep mentioning top dollars and my dollars..but there are a lot of things money alone can't buy.
                    I am sure this will get deleted but...

                    1. I applaud your courage in posting your anecdote. If it isn't a put-on, it's certainly a description of someone who was demanding and unreasonable to the point of being childish. Good thing you decided never to return. I'm sure the restaurant (and perhaps your unfortunate friends) are in full agreement.

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