Hamachi House is Hit and Miss

Visited In: February 5, 2011
Gluten Free Menu: No
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude:
Variety of Gluten-Free Options:
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating:
Price Range: $25 and up, per person (Teppanyaki)

The Teppanyaki dining experience at the Hamachi Steakhouse in Bishop’s Landing has long been one of my favorite dining treats. It’s a wonderful experience, combining great food, a fun culinary show, and delicious food. When I discovered that they offer a gluten-free soy sauce, I was very excited to share Teppanyaki with Mike, as he had never been to any of the Hamachi restaurants. Our experience had its ups and downs.

We had made a reservation for one of their Teppanyaki tables, which are U-shaped with a grill at the center. Food is cooked in front of you by a Teppanyaki chef. When we arrived, it was clear that the other people who were waiting had a reservation at the same table – things were running late for some reason. A waitress greeted us and kindly took my coat, but left Mike standing with his. Not a good start.

We got seated and were handed sushi menus, since they didn’t have enough regular menus for the entire table. We ordered wine (for me) and beer (for him) to start, while he looked suspiciously at the sushi menu. Eventually a normal menu arrived and our waitress explained the options. Although you can order a regular entrée, a special Teppanyaki menu (with different combinations of grill options) is also offered. Each plate includes miso soup, a salad, grilled vegetables, and steamed rice. (Most people upgrade to fried rice for an additional $3.75.) I asked our waitress about my options.

She was extremely knowledgeable and offered a lot of information. The salad dressing contained gluten so they would do a special salad, but the chef could cook with gluten-free soy sauce. There was also a ginger sauce that would normally come with grilled meats, but they would provide me with something different as it contained gluten. The miso soup is naturally gluten-free. Based on this, Mike and I ordered Combination F ($76), which included chicken, scallops, and filet mignon. (As I mentioned, soup and salad and grilled vegetables were included. We upgraded to the fried rice too, as did everyone else at our table.)

Miso soup is a broth-type soup, with tofu, seaweed, and green onion in a soybean broth. It sounds horrendous, I know. I’m a really fussy eater, but after several trips to Hamachi it has grown on me. The next course was a house salad, which normally comes with an apple vinaigrette. I received a side of some sort of herbed oil and vinegar which I found surprisingly delicious. (Mike tried both and declared them equally excellent.) I also found it interesting that my salad arrived in a different color bowl than the others – an easy and often overlooked way of identifying special items.

Then it was time for the grill portion of the meal to start. The chef cooked up a big portion of fried rice, but accidentally used the soy sauce with gluten. He informed the waitress and she had the kitchen make me a special portion, which was delicious. However, I had a few problems with this. Problem one was that the chef didn’t speak much English and neglected to give any rice to Mike – the waitress gave him an extra bowl that had been sitting on the cart when she delivered mine and I mentioned the oversight. Problem two was that his grill and utensils were now contaminated and he seemed unaware of the seriousness of it.

The chef did, however, ask if my allergy was severe and if I wanted the meal prepared in the kitchen. This defeats the entire point of Teppanyaki, so I said no. He proceeded to grill the different types of meat one at a time. When he cooked a meat that we had ordered, he would simply season them separately – one with the gluten-free soy sauce and one with regular soy sauce. Mike found it off-putting that our food was cooked separately like this as it affected the culinary show. I was worried about contamination, and hoped that the high heat would somehow sanitize the grill and utensils during the process.

We left the restaurant with mixed feelings. The food itself was delicious and filling and I didn’t get sick afterwards. However, I think that they could be more gluten-friendly by completely substituting the gluten-free soy sauce for the regular sauce. I am not sure if they don’t do this because of cost or because of taste; the gluten-free sauce was much saltier. In the end, I would say that if you are really sensitive and/or really concerned about contamination, stay away from the Teppanyaki tables and stick with their regular menu. Hamachi has a way to go before I’d call them truly gluten-friendly.

Hamachi Steakhouse
1477 Lower Water Street (Bishop’s Landing, Halifax)
902-422-1600
Web Site: http://www.hamachirestaurants.com

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