Japanese restaurants from the ’60s

Unfortunately, it looks like the current Japanese food boom has not completely extinguished that sorry remnant of the past, 60’s-style Japanese restaurants of which Benihana is the prime examplar. I recently had the most unfortunate experience of eating at Hamada in Las Vegas—I simply assumed that a prominent Japanese restaurant in the City of Sin would be on the cutting edge. How wrong I was.

This unfortunate blast from the past has one branch in the Luxor, another on Flamingo. The menu is your old teriyaki and tempura style. Nothing introduced into Japanese cuisine in the last two decades is anywhere to be found. The sushi we ordered came looking limp and forlorn, crammed on an undersized plate with no garnish. The sake menu was weak and the waitress, an oldish Japanese woman who had probably spent less time in the last 25 years in Japan than I have, could not answer basic questions about it and seemed insulted that I would dare to ask them in the first place.

A place like this, sadly, will probably take another decade or two to completely die off, since the Las Vegas clientele is by definition dominated by the family from St. Louis that goes there every five years and thinks chicken teriyaki is the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine.

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