Tried Kyoto Japanese Steak House in Royal Oak, MI tonight...
Basically decent. Some highs and some lows.
It's a similar show to other hibachi houses, which is to say, geared towards kids and decently entertaining for adults. While I went alone, it was still a good time, helped out by the fact that I was Grouponing it. This made the total cost of the entire meal, tax and tip included, about half of what it would have been paying full price. The discount definitely gives them an additional star, I'd say.
I have to say that the meal starts out in just about the weakest possible way. The miso soup is just the blandest version of miso soup I've ever had. There isn't much gusto in even the best-ever-made miso soup, but even so: this stuff is very weak, indeed. The very thinly cut mushrooms were the best part of the soup, and I will say that the soup was served at a very warm temperature, which is good. It's too bad there weren't more scallions, seaweed, and most of all *flavor* to make this seem like any more than a half-hearted attempt. I ate mine, but I could easily see someone just foregoing this part, or giving up on it after a spoonful or two.
As well, the salad they serve is not the traditional ginger Japanese salad you get most everywhere. It's got a completely different (but not bad!) dressing served over what's almost completely iceberg lettuce chunks. I think I remember a single piece of completely peeled cucumber being in there, but I can't be sure. Either way, this salad isn't much to write home about, but it was far from inedible. I ate all of mine, for certain, but the dressing and the "salad's" ingredients were disappointing. Fresh? Yes. Disappointing? Yeah, that too. Still: completely eaten.
It's at this point that the hibachi show kind of comes into play, and things do start getting better. As I said, the show is pretty enjoyable, and more importantly, the chef is able to do most of the food well.
The first thing he makes is fried rice, which I opted to get at a $2 up charge. Don't make my mistake: this is *lousy* fried rice. I neither finished it, nor took it home with me to eat later. It's not the chef's fault: they just don't put enough stuff into the fried rice in order to make it have interesting flavor (you know: onions, carrots, spices, other vegetables, etc.). He prepared it correctly, but it's just positively a culinary lost cause. If I'm not taking the remainder home, it's a problem.
In addition to white rice (included) or fried rice ($2 more, and DON'T YOU DO IT!), they also prepare some noodles which are just okay. There's soy sauce in them, and they serve their purpose as a starch. Kids love 'em. If I knew at the beginning what I knew at the end, I probably would have just stuck with white rice and the noodles, but whatcha gonna do? The noodles functioned, but I wouldn't want a plate full of them or anything.
Next came my main course: filet mignon and shrimp. These were prepared *perfectly*. A wonderful medium for the filet, and the shrimp were chock full of spring when you bit into them, not chewy or rubbery at all. I ended up using the included sauces for these: the ginger sauce for the shrimp and the other for the steak. Pretty good combination, though in thinking about it afterwards, the filet could have used a touch from the salt shaker. No matter, because that's on *me*: I should have asked for that. Nonetheless, these were just great examples of both.
Oddly, the grilled veggies came last, and they were fine, though I thought they could have been a bit more generous with them. It wouldn't hurt them to do a few more of these with any given entree.
So, it's not bad: they get the most important things correct, and with a Groupon, I was relatively happy. That being said, I'm not dying to go back there, and to be certain: when I've been to Benihana, I've *never* had anything bad to say about any of the courses like the fried rice or the soup. So it's pretty safe to say that there's better food out there to be had, but for my $21 out the door with a 20% tip included, I'm satisfied that I wasn't victimized or ripped off or anything. The steak was great, the shrimp were very good, and the veggies were also good. Everything else? Yeah...those areas could use some serious work and/or quality changes.
Service was fine with regard to refills of beverages, napkins, and what-not. Full price for Kyoto is just too much, period, but for close to half price, it's okay.
I agree with the seasoning factor in regards to ALL hibachi table Japanese dining. Even if the ingredients are fresh and cooked properly by the Chef, there is always a blandness to the food. Major lack of salt and pepper, let alone any other seasoning. So it's never outright bad just bland and forgettable. Like you said the show is the real draw especially with kids. The more fun the Chef the more fun the experience as a whole is.