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Review: Osaka Japanese Steakhouse

written by 27 September 2010 4 Comments

Evidently, the Chimney Silver Oaks Maple Lakes Argyle Square area has sprouted a baby Town Center whilst I wasn’t looking. I ventured down south in the hunt for a Fashion Bug, which is rare to find in captivity these days. Following my trusty GPS (her name is Gladys), I found the Oakleaf Town Center. Anchored by a SuperTarget, the food establishments within are the usual suspects – a Peterbrook, Five Guys, Panda Express, Chili’s, Panera, McDonalds – oh, sing along – you know the tune. When faced with a situation like this, I go for the least chain-ish option, which normally means strip mall sushi. Oakleaf’s offering is Osaka Japanese Steakhouse.

I consider sushi the same way I do a hamburger. I can appreciate a beautiful Wagyu beef burger on a handmade brioche bun topped with seared fois gras. I can also scarf down a WendyBurger on my way to the lake in the summer. As long as there’s a Frosty, I’m good. The deal is the same with sushi. I know the difference, but I’m not picky. I’ve eaten Publix sushi. Their rice is shockingly not half bad. So, knowing that I haven’t got my snooty pants on, let me tell you that I found Osaka offensive.

When I walked in at 12:55 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, the place was absolutely empty other than a mother and child sitting at one of the hibachi tables. The lights were off other than a few just over the sushi bar on my side of the room. When the young waiter asked where I’d like to sit I said, “I suppose over here. There’s more light.” He didn’t take the hint. No lights came on. Three or four of the staff were having their meal in the back corner of the dining room in the dark.

I opted for their three-roll lunch, $9.95. I expected three four-piece rolls, as is the lunch custom these days. Instead, I was surprised to get full rolls. It came with an accompanying bowl of clear mushroom soup which I found to be absolutely useless - cloudy water with a few mushrooms floating in it.

I asked the waiter to explain the “Boston” and “Alaska” rolls. He shrugged and said, “I dunno.” I raised my eyebrows in anticipation and he wandered off to the other staff members at the back table. He came back a few minutes later and said, “Um… Boston is steamed shrimp and lettuce. Alaska is Salmon and some other stuff.” I told him I’d have the California roll and those two rolls. This is how it looked when it arrived.

By the time my food got there I wasn’t especially hungry because there was the strong (I mean seriously strong) smell of dirt wafting across the restaurant. It smelled so strongly of dirt that I was becoming concerned. It was organic and rotten and unpleasant. Unfortunately, other than a pair of chopsticks, nothing else arrived with my food. No refill on my soda, no silverware or napkins, other than the sharing plate that was already on the table when I arrived (which you can see above this serving plate) and no little bowl for my soy sauce. I usually don’t ask for anything, I just accept service as-is, but I did ask for the little soy dish.

As you can see from the photo above, the rice enveloping the California (bottom) and Boston (middle) rolls was extremely thin. Both rolls fell apart when I tried to use chopsticks to pick them up. All three rolls seemed to be glued to the plate, needing a prying motion to separate them by jiggling a chopstick between the two. The avocado in the California and the Alaska (top) was under-ripe and hard. The biggest disappointment was the Boston roll. The mayonnaise used was gloppy and warm by the time it reached me. All the rolls were unpleasantly tepid, but that mayo had been warmed by the warm rice and just wasn’t appealing. As you can see from the photo, the toasted sesame seeds were bordering on burnt. Overall, a disappointment.

The restaurant itself is beautiful. It definitely goes beyond the usual blocky tables and paper lanterns of most strip mall sushi joints. The fountains, decor and architecture simply served to highlight the poor quality of the food and the lackadaisical service. The young man was never rude, but he had no knowledge of the products and no ability to serve properly. It wasn’t until he brought me the bill that he asked if I’d like a refill. At that point, the overwhelming smell of freshly turned topsoil (I REALLY hope it was dirt) had made me want to scoot out of there as soon as I could.

I would say that perhaps the restaurant is geared more toward the hibachi show, but after the fourth time I watched food sail over the little kid’s head and onto the floor behind her chair, I realized that the cook was a long way from being able to perform even the most basic tricks usually offered at these places. Honestly, even the kid looked embarrassed for him.

In the end, he didn’t charge me for the drink. It’s possible that the drink was part of the lunch deal, but it wasn’t noted on the lunch menu, so don’t expect that if you go in there. This was some of the worst sushi I’ve had in the area. I thought at first that these problems may be due to how new the place was, but their health inspections at the location go back to November 2008. No matter what the age of the establishment, I cannot recommend Osaka at this time.

Osaka Japanese Steak House on Urbanspoon

If you’re brave enough to try it, Osaka Japanese Steakhouse can be found in the Oakleaf Town Center at 9525 Crosshill Blvd. just west of the intersection of Old Middleburg Road on Argyle Forest Blvd. You can call the restaurant at 317.0224. Please feel free to share your experiences with this restaurant in the comments below.

all bad cellphone images copyright © 2010 by jodi a. kasten • all rights reserved

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  • avatar
    jaxfoodiefreak said:

    Oh wow, disgusting. That’s near my house, but I’m very afraid to go there. I try to find the positive in all places I eat but if it’s terrible, you have to call it as it is.

    Jacksonville in general has a major problem with poor service, lack of knowledgable staff, etc. If only they all trained them well or are more careful with hiring. Thanks for sharing this!

  • avatar
    jodikasten (author) said:

    I don’t usually do bad reviews, JFF. I’m careful about where I go because I hate to waste money. I’m pretty well informed, so I mostly manage to avoid the truly bad stuff. But, this one just had to be mentioned. Ick! Thanks for reading!

  • avatar
    JAG said:

    The hibachi is better but yes the service is poor.

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