The day started off extremely hectic, with train delays caused by increased passenger volume (most were Jays fans decked out in royal blue or CNE-goers sporting sunhats and sandals). Upon arriving, we eased our hunger by picking up some things at Front St. Foods before heading off in the direction of the convention centre.
As it was still early afternoon, many cosplayers had yet to make an appearance. The sun's glare had also become stronger as the hours passed, making it difficult to capture decent photos; as result, we retreated into an A/C-blasting area to cool off in the meantime.
The lineup at Starbucks wasn't too lengthy, though our Peach Green Tea Lemonade and Peach/Passion Tea Lemonade order took much longer than expected. The girl who took my order at the cashier was extremely cheerful, but made a small error by forgetting to write down "+ Fizz" on both cups. Consequently, the girl making the drinks produced both sans-carbonate, and was observed to make a silent attempt at containing her annoyance when she had to remake them.
While I do understand that dealing with one particularly picky order is frustrating when there are numerous sweaty con-goers in line, I wasn't about to walk away accepting the drinks as I had already paid an extra 60 cents per drink for the addition. In this case, please don't blame the customer - blame your drink-writer!
Fan Expo 2015 photos can be found HERE !
Located at Wellesley and Yonge, the restaurant seemed to be relatively close according to Google Maps. Little did we know, it was much more hidden than iPhone and Android maps could handle. Walking around the intersection for approximately 25 minutes, already famished and tired from the heat, we almost gave up when the map led us behind a building and into an alleyway.
Thinking fast, I decided to give them a call and ask for directions.
One of the waitresses picked up, and I informed her of our whereabouts. As a native Japanese-speaker, she struggled profusely to provide us with proper directions. Instead, she hung up on me. Two minutes later, though, she appeared around the corner of the building to lead us towards her place of occupation. Talk about a mission.
"Why is celebrating a milestone in food service an 'annoyance'?" you may inquire. Simply put, the restaurant was already at 80% capacity when we walked in. Trying to make our way to some open seats, another native Japanese-speaker blocked our path, uttering something inaudible in the thick of the chaotic atmosphere. "Reserved" was the only word I was able to make out.
I further clarified, "So can we sit here, or is it reserved?"
"What about the bar? Can we sit there?"
"No, it's reserved."
"...then, are there any spots available?!"
"Yes, here" She directed us to the two spots at the end of the bar that we were initially heading towards.
"Okay...then." I sat down and relieved my shoulders of my weighty backpack.
Unfortunately, the temperature inside the restaurant wasn't much cooler than the exterior in which we had waddled around in. Being seated in front of a grill, I suppose that was to be expected, though the servers didn't move an inch even when we requested for the A/C to be cranked up just a notch more.
No one had come to take our order. No one had offered us a menu to glance over. No one had even provided us with glasses of water. For such a small, hyped eatery, I had not expected the nonexistent service we received.
We asked for water twice (from two different servers), were evidently acknowledged, but nothing was delivered until our third request. The menu also later made its way to our table, presented in the form of block letters scribbled atop white letter-sized paper. Their "2nd Anniversary Special" only made a certain number of their dishes available for ordering. Each item was priced at $5, and I had been told that the portions were identical to that of the regular menu size. This, as I found out after some inappropriate amount of wait time, was not the case at all.
Water had been provided in plastic, disposable cups instead of proper glasses. Food items were packaged night market-style in flimsy plastic containers secured with an elastic. The presentation for in-house dining was atrocious, and the portions were no greater than that of a standard, overpriced food festival vendor. But the worst part of all would have to be that every item tasted identical in regards to the sauce and seasonings used.
As much as I had wanted to enjoy the teppanyaki-style-prepared food, everything was astonishingly disappointing to the point where I deemed them unworthy of my photographic efforts and proceeded to zip my camera away.
(And for those that know me well, this is a very serious situation indeed.)
Getting up to leave, I noticed that a tightly-packed row of people had squatted next to a series of reserved seats. I thought that this was the takeout crew, but then observed that one family was holding the same plastic containers our food had been served in, and were slowly munching away at their contents. My first thought was, "This is absurd! Do people actually stand off to the side and eat as they do in night markets for this place?!".
In the end, the seats where "Reserved" signs had been placed were still empty after our unnecessarily long dining - sorry, WAITING, experience.
Teppan Kenta was a location that I had anticipated eating at, but those expectations had been wholly shattered in this one visit.
I had wanted to like it. I honestly really wanted to like it. I wanted to scrutinize every second of my stay, just to see if there was any one element that would have driven me to visit again.
But, ultimately, I just couldn't. It was a ghastly combination of unfavourable dining conditions, poor communication between servers and customers, inexplicably small portions, nonexistent service, bountiful mistakes, abhorrent food (and drink) presentation, and night market-esque eating in a dine-in restaurant. As much as I fought internally to ponder the possibility of a second visit, I simply cannot conclude anything positive whatsoever.
Stepping outside the premises was, believe it or not, an extremely relieving sensation. The air wasn't sticky anymore, and an evening breeze could be felt.
As dinner had not managed to satisfy our stomachs, I suggested trying out Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches at The Red Bench. (That's right! Frozen yogurt in place of ice cream in ice cream sammies!)
Back to the cozy interior of The Red Bench, the appropriately-sized dessert place served up a variety of frozen yogurt flavours (all available at a self-serve section with black-and-white framed photos lining the rest of the wall), in-house-produced cookies, and a plethora of topping selections.
A few small tables were situated throughout, while a few "bar" seats were lined up along a brick wall.
We opted for vanilla froyo held together by the S'Mores and Brookie (brownie-cookie amalgam) and topped with organic semi-sweet chocolate chips (a compromise between toffee bits and excessively sweet white chocolate chips).
Time was of the essence, as the frozen yogurt melted much quicker than preferred, causing the minute chocolate chips to roll off the patty and into the corners of the paper tray. Honestly speaking, this was less of a problem than the ice cream sandwich being extremely sweet - the entire contents of the tray had been devoured before we even reached the subway station!