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Otani, Japanese on Braddock Road near GMU

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After an evening of disappointing seafood (see my post regarding the Bonefish Grill) I felt it was only fair to give another cuisine a chance to disappoint me. Otani Grill in Fairfax accomplished this.

Otani is a sushi and teppanyaki place with a limited lunch menu that includes a selection of bento boxes. There is a sushi bar, although that was unoccupied when we were there. We didn't try the teppanyaki, although the flames from the other side of the restaurant were interesting to watch, and gave a faint promise of warmth. My daughter and I each ordered a bento. I had the Tonkasu Bento, which features fried pork cutlet. My daughter had the Beef Teriyaki bento. Both included rice, miso soup, salad, gyoza and 4 pieces of California roll. We also had a small sushi order to share and we had a pot of hot tea.

The miso soup was thin, watery, nearly tasteless, and without much of anything such as tofu cubes to give it character. Its only saving grace was that it was hot, which was a Good Thing considering the temperature of the restaurant. the salad was also watery, but unlike most Japanese restaurants, this one served it with ranch dressing. The California rolls were loose, poorly rolled, and unremarkable. The Gyoza was pretty good, but appeared to be the prepackaged pot stickers from Costco (which may be why they rose above the level of the food otherwise available).

I chose the pork because that's usually one of the bento items that virtually impossible to ruin. But it turns out that I underestimated the skills of the kitchen who managed to find a way to make this dish resemble a sliced brown hocky puck on a bed of brown lettuce. My daughter tried valiantly to eat the beef teriyaki, but it was only after she cut the meat free of the gristle with my pocket knife that she could do it. The pork, beef and rice were cold. The gyoza was hot.

The tea was hot, but at five bucks for a pot, it should have been remarkable. Instead, it was lightly flavored hot water.

The sushi is priced per piece and is fairly expensive. The quantity of fish is minimal. The taste was missing.

I now realize that a better strategy would have been to eat at that Scottish place next door, the one with those yellow arches. At least there my expectations would have been so low that I wouldn't been disappointed. And the food would have been hot, and the tea would have only cost a buck.

Wayne Rash

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