Last Wednesday I had to go to the mall and decided to have lunch at Koto Japanese Restaurant. Three and a half years ago I wrote a review of their restaurant on Erie Boulevard, where my friend Josh & I had a wonderful experience. This summer I wrote a positive article about Koto’s hibachi express in the food court, and that was pretty positive also.

new salmonFor some reason, I thought that would turn into a positive experience for a lunch time meal. Unfortunately, things just don’t work that way all the time, and this time… well, let’s tell the full story.

The reason I went inside was because I was in the mood for salmon teriyaki. I was asked if I wanted to sit at a hibachi table or a regular table and I chose a regular table. Being by myself, it seemed stupid to sit at the hibachi table and watch a performance… whenever they decided to do one.

The menu showed that I could get the salmon lunch hibachi for $12. I’ve been to other restaurants, like Ichiban on Old Liverpool Road, where they say hibachi but they cook it in the back so I figured I’d get the lunch special. Only… it turns out Koto actually means you have to sit at the hibachi table to get it. Instead, I ordered the regular meal at $19, and asked for fried rice.

What I got was what you see in the picture above. Maybe that’s their full size now but look at the picture below of what I used to get at Koto downtown. Maybe the price of salmon is prohibitive enough so that sizes are smaller but it doesn’t mean they need to be overcooked, as my salmon was crunchy and hard along the edges and a bit into the fish as well.

Salmon TeriyakiThat was the first disappointment. The second was the “fried” rice, which, if it was fried, was lame and dry. Truthfully, since I wrote my review from the summer of the hibachi in the food court I’ve noticed that the quality of the fried rice has degraded drastically. Back then, that was the difference in my choosing Koto before Cajun Cafe, whose rice I’ve never liked. Since the rice quality has decreased I find myself bypassing Koto more often because I love the bourbon chicken and I don’t have to wait for my food at Cajun Cafe.

The kicker was when I got the bill and realized they had charged me an extra $2 for the “upgrade” to fried rice; that irked me a bit more and fully ruined my lunch experience. I paid the bill, and I still tipped the waiter my standard 25% or so, but I’m vowing that I will never go back to Koto in the mall again, at least the restaurant part. The food court… well, the chicken with teriyaki will still pull me here and there and, at only $7, is still relatively inexpensive.

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