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Super Sad Japanese Food
2/5 80 Pratt Street
Hartford, CT
Rating: Chopsticks of Displeasure
This Japanese restaurant makes Hello Kitty cry.
A few months ago I found a nice looking Japanese restaurant called Tanuki's Japanese Noodle Kitchen with a cute little raccoon mascot (tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog) on a flag outside their entrance. I finally had a chance to try them out. They had nice decor inside with nice granite tables and even the plastic models of food you see in restaurants in Japan. They looked promising based on their wide array of noodle dishes in traditional Japanese styles.

Wanting to try a couple things I ordered the katsudon and a children's ramen. The meal started with a "potato" salad even though it had no potato in it. Instead it had daikon radish and carrots in a ginger dressing which I think is much better and more appropriate. I'm just not sure why they called it potato; perhaps to make it sound more appetizing to local Hartford residents.

Next came the katsudon which looked promising with the traditional onions and egg on top. Unfortunately, I found it too soggy: the katsu might as well have been boiled. I complained and the owner, a Japanese chef, came and informed me that I must be mistaken. Being from Japan he assured me that he was right and that the katsu is supposed to be soggy and all the restaurants I had tried in Japan were making it wrong. I can understand that the katsu wouldn't be crispy like with tonkatsu but my complaint was that it was too soggy after which he said it was probably my fault for ordering brown rice instead of white.

After that the owner told me that his other restaurant had been rated the best in the country by Zagat and had a waiter fetch a letter from them. It turned out to be a letter saying that his other restaurant had been included in the "Best Japanese Restaurants of 2007" list which is quite different from being THE best Japanese restaurant. He then said, "If all my customers were like you, then how did I get that award?"

After leaving me be, I had a chance to try the ramen. It was equally disappointing. The first thing I noticed was that it tasted like bean sprouts, which is ok, except that's all it tasted like. The broth was flavorless like it had been watered down. The "fresh" noodles were forgettable as well, they weren't al dente or springy or stretchy or anything. They had no flavor or character of any sort: the perfect match for the broth, I guess. I've had better instant ramen and would take a Nissin Cup Noodle out of a vending machine any day.

They also failed to give me the dessert that is supposed to come with the childrens ramen and failed to ask me if I even wanted dessert. You may be thinking that the ramen was poor b/c it was for kids but it wouldn't make sense to have different broth and noodles for kids and even if they did, I wouldn't respect that decision either.

To me, Tanuki is a perfect example of a Hartford restaurant: nice looking with a promising menu that falls flat on it's face in terms of quality, service and price. I will not be returning.
Posted 12/08/2008 08:22 PM in Restaurants, Reviews | Total Comments: (4)
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Ah, Zagat...
Just goes to show ya the inherent limitations of reviews (and subjective Top-Whatever lists). Comparing to other local examples of a cuisine and citing "other" restaurants sounds like a recipe for failure to me. Sorry to hear your Hartford experiences haven't been stellar.
Submitted by Dan on 12/08/2008 10:36 PM

I got some push back for my scathing review from Chowhound, but so far the only other person to review them seems to agree...
Submitted by filbert on 12/10/2008 11:50 PM

Even if your food was soggy, you're kind of an asshole.
Submitted by Sally on 02/07/2009 11:06 PM

I've never made ramen from scratch. Like you, I sotpped eating Top Ramen long before I went vegan. I don't think I've had a bowl in 25 years. It was a meal I could make as a kid, and so I made it until I was nauseatingly sick of it. Your updated homemade version looks divine, though. I wonder how likely it is that I could find those noodles in my small town Still, it's worth a shot! If nothing else, udon would be good.
Submitted by akqrmvDPiJN on 01/03/2013 03:03 AM

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