Oct 29

Benihana – Monterey

136 Olivier St

Monterey, CA 93940

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

You would think that calling ahead for a reservation would guarantee you seating within a reasonable amount of time when you get to the restaurant right at the stated time. After arriving at the restaurant right on time for the reservation, we were forced to sit for another 10 minutes in order to be seated. Once we were finally called, we were brought to an empty hibachi grill table. At this point, we were quite confused about what took them so long. Upon review of the expansive expensive menu, the waitress took our order and later brought our drinks.

Today, we decided to order Rocky’s choice and the Samurai treat. Rocky’s treat comes with Hibachi steak and chicken breast. Samurai treat comes with Filet Mignon and colossal shrimp. Before the entree was cooked, we both got an onion soup that tasted pretty good and was not heavy. We also received a salad that looked quite fresh, but the dressing was not that good at all. Our chef then arrived and proceeded to cook some shrimp and vegetables on the grill in a decorated and skillful action. This included cutting off the tails of the shrimp and flipping them into his chef’s hat with his spatula. The waitress provided rice and later provided tea. The chef was quite funny during the cooking presentation and was friendly. The dipping sauces were not that good and did not add much to the meal. The hibachi steak tasted tender and flavorful and the chicken was juicy and not overcooked. The Filet Mignon melted in your mouth and was cooked perfectly. The colossal shrimp was much larger than the appetizer shrimp. The lemon and butter made the shrimp even more juicy. I liked how the chef cut up the vegetables, steak, and shrimp into bite-sized pieces. In the end, we also received yummy Haagen-Dazs ice cream that went well with the meal.

Overall, the food and food service was great and entertaining. However, initial service with the hostess was less than desirable and the prices of food were quite high. Due to the great service and entertainment from the chef, I was willing to tip over 18%, but I probably would not come back due to the inconsistent service. If you want to have the authentic Hibachi service, then Benihana would provide that service, but the price and bad hostess would turn you away. If you were in Monterey, I suggest you choose somewhere else to eat.

Oct 22

Kara’s Cupcakes – Monterey

1240 Del Monte Ctr

Monterey, CA 93940

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Located inside Del Monte Center at Monterey, Kara’s Cupcakes looked very inviting from the outdoor mall due to its simplicity and display case. As we entered, we noticed that these were not going to be cheap supermarket cupcakes. As we looked through the pricey selection, we received prompt service if we had any questions or if we were ready. There is some seating inside the store on bar-stools.

Today, we ordered the s’mores and chocolate velvet cupcakes. Both cupcakes looked really appealing from the outside. The s’mores cupcake had an interesting marshmallow frosting that went well with the rest of the cupcake. The chocolate velvet cupcake was extremely chocolatey and tasty.

With that said, I still did not feel the taste was worth the price for standard-sized cupcakes. Other than the looks, I felt the flavor was nothing special. If you are in the area and wanted a cupcake, then you will get a good tasting expensive cupcake. However, I would feel that my money would be better spent at Coldstone at the other end of the plaza.

Oct 15

The Fish Hopper – Monterey

700 Cannery Row

Monterey, CA 93940

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Located right off of Cannery Row in Monterey, the Fish Hopper serves up piping hot clam chowder offering up free samples luring people in. They also have a full-fledged restaurant too, but I could smell the clam chowder from a block away. After being offered the delicious sample (and almost burning my tongue), we had to splurge $10 to get the real thing in a sourdough bowl. The bread tasted very fresh and was quite soft. The food is instantly ready because once you order, they just get a bread bowl ready and scoop in the clam chowder goodness. The clam chowder was quite creamy, and they did not skimp on the clams. Overall, the clam chowder was flavorful and delicious. I would have liked there to be more seating areas outside of the restaurant instead of searching for stairs to sit on, but the whole area was busy. Given another chance to come here again, I would definitely order another clam chowder. It would be nice if the prices were a bit lower though. If you are coming to Monterey, you should definitely go to Cannery row to grab some clam chowder.

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