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I am heartbroken.
Ok, to be honest, i don’t know if I am. Not yet anyway.This past weekend i went with some friends to one of our favorite restaurants in the area. (side note-i will write another post about the state of the restaurant scene in my area soon. It’s important context). It’s a local teppanyaki grille that for the last 5 years or so has outshone not only the other few teppanyaki joints but a lot of the other restaurants through better service, better food, and better quality of experience-which is key since a teppanyaki place is dinner AND a show.

We made friends with the head chef (who introduces himself Bruce Lee, though his name is just Lee) a few years back and have always requested him when we go as he is the best they have there; both funny and a great cook. Even when it doesn’t work out to have him cook for us he always comes by to catch up with us and even to bring us sake on the house.

Well, on Saturday night we were informed that Lee is gone. From Ziki. Not dead…but for us he may as well be…he went back to China.

So it was already with apprehension that we walked in there. Sadly, the night was a total disaster. They were busy so we waited for over a half hour for a table despite our reservation. We didn’t go to the bar because we thought a table was quickly forthcoming. So we just stood around.

We ordered their pineapple sake only to be told 30 minutes later that they were out. 30 minutes…no drinks. The drinks we ended up ordering cost less than the sake and came after 10 more minutes. NO one came by to see if we wanted another round, which we did.

The food was terrible. I am not sure that the food could have been worse if the chef had actually cared less. My veggies were tasty, but so unevenly cut that I couldn’t grab them easily. My salmon was so overcooked it had the consistency of steak. it wasn’t seasoned well (no garlic or sesame, very little salt and pepper) either.

But the ultimate slap in the face?

The fried rice. The fried rice I pay an extra $2.50 for a small bowl of. It was a monstrosity. Undercooked. Under seasoned. Not enough butter, hoisin, sake, salt or pepper. I had a small fork full and didn’t eat the rest.

So I am sitting on the verge of a broken heart. We did let the manager know our experience and he was kind to take the drinks off, and give a discount as well, but…it may have been the point of no return.

We did hang around and stalk a couple of the other chefs; watching them cook and seeing them interact, so we do have two more cooks to try before we make a final decision. Still, we are sad. Sad to miss our friend Lee. Sad to not be able to eat his food. Sad to not be able to ask him how he does certain things.

I wish him well though.

Hope to see you again, Lee. God speed.