There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you all need a break from dining hall food. The same rotating meals for 27 weeks straight can be a little repetitive to say the least. Surrounding the University of Connecticut is a plethora of different eating out options: Delicious pizza from Sgt. Pepperoni, 16-inch grinders from Teds and juicy burgers from Mooyah. Hibachi cuisine was the only thing missing, but YAMATO Hibachi & Poke Bowls has you covered.
Located directly next to Wally’s Chicken Coop, YAMATO is in walking distance from nearly every dorm on campus. Its menu ranges from hibachi to sushi to poke bowls, providing students with a variety that makes ordering a difficult task. My friend and I shared a James Bond roll (shrimp tempura inside, spicy crab and avocado on top with eel sauce), a poke classic bowl (tuna, sweet onion, edamame, cucumber, ponzu sauce and roasted sesame oil), gyoza (pan fried dumplings), edamame and a hibachi steak platter. The food was all very delicious. The only item I am unable to give my food-critiquing expertise on is the poke bowl, simply because I refuse to try raw fish. The gyoza, which is one of my favorite foods of all time, was extra crispy and extra flavorful. The edamame had the perfect amount of salt, and the hibachi fried rice was to die for. I have zero complaints regarding the taste of the food.
While the cuisine is up to par, the setting and interior design leaves much to be desired. One would expect a new restaurant to be fresh-feeling, modern or at least memorable. YAMATO is none of these. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted with a restaurant the size of two college dorms, that has two tables and some bar seats. The countertops are an unpleasant shade of tan and the kitchen is clearly visible from the tables. Typically, hibachi is an experience as well as a cuisine, with food that is prepared in front of the customer. This is not the case at YAMATO. The sushi is the only dish that is made in front of your eyes, and it is not pleasant to watch. The ingredients for the sushi are all placed in plastic containers or wrapped in Cling Wrap. This may be a personal preference, but I do not wish to see raw shrimp covered in plastic.
Even more strange, you are expected to walk to the cash register, order your sushi and pay all before you eat. The food is served in plastic containers on a plastic tray with plastic utensils. It almost felt as if I was getting sushi from Price Chopper and taking it back to my dorm to eat. When you are finished dining, you place your trash into the garbage can and stack the trays on top of each other. While a delicious flavor is necessary, the dining experience also has to be enjoyable.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe I would recommend dining in at YAMATO. If a friend was craving Asian cuisine, I would tell them to place a takeout order and savor it in the comfort of their own home. Thankfully, YAMATO has already taken care of this for us and partnered with Hungry Button to provide all UConn students with easy delivery, so you can get tasty food delivered to you in no time.
Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.