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“Not bad but expensive and not the benihana experience” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Imari

Imari
Hilton Waikoloa Village, 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, Island of Hawaii, HI 96738
+1 808-886-1234
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Ranked #29 of 56 Restaurants in Waikoloa
Price range: $20 - $40
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Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Queen K Hwy & Waikoloa Beach Dr
los angeles
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
“Not bad but expensive and not the benihana experience”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2012

Restaurant is located in the Hilton hotel and has a Japanese garden type setting. You need to make a reservation if you have teppanyaki (and specifically make for teppanyaki) and they need the entire group to be there (if the people sharing your table aren't there yet, you'll have to wait). We had the teppanyaki for four adults, and the child ordered off the menu. I ordered the rib eye which was fantastic. My brother and father had the filet mignon which was also very good. We did not try the sushi so cannot comment. Mom had the grilled fish which was very fresh. The food was wonderful, at least for teppanyaki (I know it's a horrid thing to do to a steak). The Mizo soup was pretty good and served at the right temperature. I had the garlic fried rice which is not the typical fried rice but was very good. I'm not a big vegetable person but they were cooked so perfectly I wound up cleaning my plate. My son ordered the udon noodles off the menu, and they were very accommodating, serving them plain instead of with the veggies, and with a side of white rice-- he loves udon but likes it plain so we were happy they were able to accommodate him.

In teppanyaki, the cooks prepared the food right in front of you. The reviewers are right when they say the show isn't like at Benihana. A benihana meal takes about an hour to get your food and they do a lot of tricks like the choo choo train and volcano. We got the volcano (which my son loved) but not a whole lot else. You still get a show, but not as elaborate as Benihana. But I have to say the food was much better than Benihana and there were no complaints. My son ate free.

A few negatives. We ordered 2 bottles of wine but they were out of stock and didn't have what we wanted until we got to our 3rd choice. The manager came out to apologize, which was a nice touch, though they could have offered a discount on our third more expensive choice to make up for it. There are mosquitos in the area due to the water in the Japanese gardens, but it's not a swarm. The meal was very expensive (almost $300 for 4 adults, 1 child with alcohol) but we felt is was totally worth it, particularly since we were doing a resort day at the hotel and didn't want to leave. Like all teppanyaki, you will share your table/grill with strangers, so it's not for people who want to be left alone. Our dinner companions were fortunately charming.

  • Visited May 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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126 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Worth giving a try...... Don';t belive the bad reviews.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2012

Yes, It is at the Hilton. Yes, you will pay a premium price. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it's a show many of us have seen before. Yes, the Sushi is good, Yes, the food is good and Yes, the service is good too!

To those who complained about service. I have eaten there three times in just the last two years and each time received GREAT service and never had to ask or wait for anything. Each time I travel to Hawaii I make a point to go there for dinner at least once during my vacation. So I have eaten here many times and never been dissapointed.

Someone complained about the Chef who couldn't "do the volcano”, complain to the onion union... bad onion... and get a dictionary and spell check. Man... How'd you like to be that Chef with the uncooperative onion, with everyone watching you?

Someone said there were no windows - WHAT??? The place is designed like a traditional Japanese restaurant with Shoji Doors for walls, so it’s an open to the outside restaurant when the “walls” are slid open - the whole place is open to the outside... Where did this person sit? Was the weather really bad and they had to close the doors?

NOTE: The Fried Rice is NOT fired Rice. It's Garlic rice and not what you expect. If you want Fried-Rice you have to order it and it comes from the kitchen and is very good.

Although I did not have Sushi this time, I must say it has never disappointed. This time I had Steak and Lobster and my son had the Steak and Chicken. The Lobster was a good size tail, fresh and cooked perfectly. Our steaks (Filets) were also exceptional, tender and cooked perfectly. None of the food was less than exceptional – it was all very good. Everyone at the table appeared to enjoy themselves and their meal. We all interacted and mingled and had a great time.

My biggest complaint is you MUST make a reservation. Even knowing this, When I called to make my reservation, I was told the only time they had was 5:30. But when we got there no one else showed up 'til 6:30. So I had an expensive glass of wine and relaxed.

We all forget this is Hawaii and we need to learn to relax and go slower. "Island Time" - This was a good time to remind myself of that.

  • Visited March 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thousand Oaks, California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“nothing special”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2012

I read the so-so reviews before going but tried honestly to like this place. Unfortunately, the reviews are pretty accurate. You are going for a Benihana-type experience but it's less fun and more expensive (prices did not surprise me as I expected to pay resort-inflated prices). Service wasn't great either.

  • Visited March 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Boring Teppanyaki”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2012

My six year old loves Teppanyaki. She loves the flash, the sounds and the fresh food. This place missed on all three. The chef could not do the volcano. It fail over several times. He could not get the oil inside the hole. The flame/steam was everywhere. No egg spin, no shrimp toss and average knife skills. Best thing he did was cook. The food was average but to be proud about. For two adults and one child $235.

  • Visited February 2012
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Yuck”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2011

The atmosphere and food here were terrible. There are no windows, service was slow and I couldn't eat half the food. The garlic fried rice was horrid, along with the un-chewable steak that had some kind of mayonnaise sauce on it. It was just as expensive at KPC, which is a hundred times better. Maybe the food is better at the tables where they cook in front of you, but I didn't sit there. Go somewhere else to spend your money.

Visited December 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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