My wife and I had dinner at Kiku recently and I was all set to write a normal review of the Japanese restaurant mentioning how they don’t necessarily have the fastest service in the world, but they do have some pretty good sushi at a reasonable price. Then I went back three days later for a friend’s 30th birthday…
The birthday dinner started out fine, we got our drinks and ordered some appetizers and our entrees. Almost an hour later we were still waiting for our food or at least for someone to stop back and ask if we needed a refill on our drinks. Shortly after the one hour mark our waiter returned and told us our food would be ready in a minute. One minute turned into 15 and he finally came back with a few plates of food.
While handing out the plates he asked who ordered the Philadelphia Roll and the Salmon Roll. I told him that I ordered a Philadelphia Roll, but that along with it I ordered the Superman Maki, which consists of tuna and cream cheese inside a deep fried roll topped with spicy mayo, eel sauce and crunch. I know, leave it to me to go out for sushi and find the one thing that’s deep fried and covered in mayonnaise right? “Oh yeah” he replied “This is the Superman Maki.”
Now, I had just eaten this same exact thing three days prior when I was there with my wife. In fact, the reason I ordered it this time was because I liked it so much that I wanted to try it again. The roll that was on my plate this time however didn’t have any cream cheese, wasn’t deep fried and had no crunch on top of it. It clearly wasn’t the same thing I’d eaten a few days prior. I told our waiter that I though I had gotten the wrong roll and he took the plate back to the chef. He returned a couple minutes later and our conversation went something like this:
Our Waiter: “Yeah, I talked to the chef, this is the Superman Maki”
Me: “OK, but the Superman Maki has cream cheese and is deep fried and covered in crunch. This roll has no cream cheese or crunch and isn’t even deep friend”
Our Waiter: “Yes it is.”
Me: “Alright, I’m not trying to be difficult, but if anyone knows the difference between something that’s deep fried and something that isn’t it’s me and this clearly isn’t deep fried. On top of that, there’s no cream cheese in it and it isn’t covered in crunch.”
Our Waiter: “Fine, if it isn’t the Superman Maki than what is it?”
Me: “I have no idea what it is, but I can certainly tell you what it isn’t…”
He left again and this time returned with a menu, opened it and pointed at a completely different item than the one I ordered and said “See, this is the Superman Maki.” I mentioned that the picture he was pointing at wasn’t in fact the Superman Maki and then took the menu and flipped to the page that it was actually located on and showed it to him hoping he would see that aside from the spicy mayo and eel sauce drizzled on my sushi that it looked nothing at all like what I really ordered. This didn’t seem to faze him however and he continued to argue with me. I told him that I had just had the same exact thing when I was there three days earlier and that it didn’t look anything like this. The rest of our conversation went like this:
Our Waiter: “Well what do you want me to do, have the chef make you a new one?”
Me: “Yeah, this obviously isn’t what I ordered so that would be great”
Our Waiter: “Fine, but it’ll take two hours”
Our Waiter: “We’re busy so if you want a new one it’ll take two hours.”
At this point I couldn’t even believe that he was still arguing with me and three of the people at our table still hadn’t gotten their food so I just told him to forget it and that I’d eat the incorrect sushi and that he should just worry about getting the rest of the food to our table. The rest of our entrees arrived about five minutes later and once we were done eating our appetizers finally arrived. That’s right, our appetizers came AFTER we finished our meal.
We also clearly weren’t the only table in the restaurant that had a bad experience that night either. One other table got up and left after sitting for about 15 minutes without anyone stopping by their table to asked if they needed drinks. Their waiter’s response to them leaving? “Fuck ’em.” Not only did he make that comment though, he said it loud enough for the entire back of the restaurant to hear him. We could also hear another table complaining about the service at Kiku, but weren’t close enough to hear what their actual problem was.
Once we were done eating, the hostess who originally sat us at our table stopped over to ask if everything was OK. “Honestly, not really” my friend Hank replied. He then proceeded to tell her about the numerous problems we had with our meal to which she responded “Oh, I’m sorry about that.” We asked her if we could talk to the manager and she said she’d go get him, but our waiter returned instead. We asked him if at the very least he could take my incorrect item off the bill but he flatly refused saying “If you have a problem with the service just don’t tip me.” My friend Jason tried explaining to him how ridiculous that was and at that point our waiter got so upset that not only did he continue arguing with us but he was actually sticking his finger in Jason’s face. We realized that we clearly weren’t getting anywhere with him so we just had him bring our bill and we paid and left.
I know people can have bad days and things can go wrong and normally I like to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, but the way our waiter was arguing with us and the way he acted was just beyond inexcusable. On top of that, it didn’t seem like anyone else who worked there seemed to care about much at all either. Believe it or not, Milwaukee actually has a pretty decent selection of places to get sushi and from now on I’ll be heading to those places instead of Kiku.
AmandaApril 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm (12 years ago)
Wow. When this stuff happens to me I always say to myself- this sucks now but it will make a heck of a story later!
“Iâ€™m not trying to be difficult, but if anyone knows the difference between something thatâ€™s deep fried and something that isnâ€™t itâ€™s me and this clearly isnâ€™t deep fried. ” – I LOLed at this one 😀
DanielApril 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm (12 years ago)
I hate reading articles like this because I know that I could go there today and have fantastic service. People are susceptible to bad days, and the second you stop thinking of them as robots that should bow to your every whim, you’ll grow to be more patient.
NickApril 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm (12 years ago)
Daniel, I know that everyone has bad days, but it wasn’t just one person at this restaurant. The entire staff they had on hand that night didn’t seem to care about anything, which is a terrible way to run a business. I would never think of someone in the food service industry as a “robot that should bow to my every whim,” and what we were asking for of the restaurant certainly wasn’t unreasonable at all. Also, judging from the reactions of the other diners at Kiku that night we certainly weren’t the only ones who had a bad experience.
MattApril 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm (12 years ago)
As someone with experience as wait staff and management in a restaurant, the service his party received was absolutely inexcusable. His order should have been corrected and comped. His server should have at a bare minimum been around to explain the delay in the food and refill drinks. And simply, the server should not have been arguing with the guests.
DonApril 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm (12 years ago)
Yes, his meal should have been comped but it seems he’d rather write a review about how terrible his service was rather than do anything to fix it as it happened.
Frankly Nick, it’s because you didn’t bother to complain that your server can get away with doing those sort of things. Next time your server brings you something you didn’t order you call the manager over right away and get it fixed. Then, instead of writing about how terrible the service was you can write about how quickly the management was to fix the problem.
NickApril 9, 2011 at 8:58 am (12 years ago)
We did ask to speak to a manager and that’s when our waiter just returned instead to argue with us more. I’m not sure if he was the manager on duty or what, but we pretty much did everything we could to try and fix the situation. Again, it wasn’t only our server, but every single person they had working that night seemed to have the same type of attitude.
Raiders757May 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm (12 years ago)
Don, if you go back and read the article again, you’ll notice that he did complain. Given the response he received, Nick was beyond justified in writing this review. There is no defending the staff in this situation, and I’m a little surprised at the grief Nick has gotten from some of you.
CoreyApril 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm (12 years ago)
You’re an idiot.
Whammy!April 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm (12 years ago)
Wow, are you the Dan that signed up for Yelp, rated this place 1 star and pasted a link to this article? What a troll.
MichaelApril 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm (12 years ago)
If you’re in the service industry, you are expected to perform as your job requires. Having a bad day should have no bearing on how well you perform a SERVICE. You can’t excuse crappy service with, “oh, he’s having a bad day.”
MaxApril 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm (12 years ago)
I’ve eaten at Kiku before. I agree that the service there is shoddy and on a good day at that! I was there on a mid-afternoon, with only 9 other customers. Took nearly an hour (around 50 minutes) to get Udon noodles. The waiter didn’t stop to refill drinks once in that time, and the host didn’t even bother to ask how everything was.
Meanwhile the other staff could be seen behind the bar, milling around. Incredible
SamMay 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm (12 years ago)
I infact, know exactly who this particular server is and it is also, the manager of the restaurant. I went to Kiku on 3 separate occasions, hoping to receive quality service and each time, was let down and the service was completely inexcusable. I have worked in the service industry for nearly 8 years now and never have I been more appaulled. Never, I repeat never, should the manager of a restaurant yell and point his finger at a calm, respectful, paying customer.
EdApril 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm (12 years ago)
It’s understandable for a person to have a bad day. If however you’re on a tilt like the waiter was, someone should do something about the situation. The manager or owner should have taken the waiter off the floor.
The damage a waiter with a bad attitude is much worse than any lost revenue from being down a staff member. Especially with comments like those the waiter threw at the table who had the will to leave when they were ignored. That’s completely uncalled for in the service industry. People aren’t robots in the service industry but neither should they bring their own personal problems into the work place. In this case, their workplace involves interactions with others. What if this were an office? Is it ok to say about another co-worker, “Fuck’em?” No, that’s not acceptable at all, why should it be acceptable in a restaurant?
NickApril 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm (12 years ago)
Ed, I totally agree, and it was actually a different waiter that made the “Fuck ’em” comment, not ours. That’s one of the things that really made this a bad experience, that no one at all who was working there that night seemed to care about anything.
BrentApril 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm (12 years ago)
This sounds like a story you should submit to Consumerist
JApril 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm (12 years ago)
I had a similar conversation with a waiter about a pizza. We’d ordered a pizza that is supposed to have scoops of ricotta. We’ve eaten it many times and know what it looks and tastes like. When the waiter brought our pizza, it clearly had goat cheese instead of ricotta. It smelled, tasted, and looked like goat cheese. Neither of us like goat cheese. The conversation:
Us: “Could we please see a menu? We want to verify the kind of cheese this pizza is supposed to have.”
Waiter: “Goat cheese, but I’ll bring you a menu.”
Menu: ricotta cheese.
Us: “Well, the menu says ricotta cheese and this is clearly goat cheese – ”
Waiter: snatches pizza away before we can finish talking. Brings back a few minutes later “I showed this to the chef. It’s definitely goat cheese.”
Us: “There seems to be a mistake.”
Waiter: “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”
Us: “Can you bring us a new pizza, but without any cheese to be on the safe side?”
So we got a new cheeseless pizza and the waiter refused to wait on us for the rest of the evening. We wouldn’t have left a tip, but the backwaiters (who usually refill water and bread baskets) were very attentive and we did not want to shortchange them from their share of the tip. Makes a funny story though.
HertzeyApril 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm (12 years ago)
Note to self, do not eat at Kiku if in Milwaukee.
I know people have bad days, but yell expletives in an environment like that shows that you don’t care. Arguing about a menu item is ridiculous. I have been very lucky with sushi spots in the Twin Cities. Last week I was a Fushi-yugi and had a really good roll called “Spider” it had tempura soft shell crab in the middle. At least now you know to avoid this one.
TimApril 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm (12 years ago)
Why did you bother paying? I would have gotten up and left the moment the waiter tried to argue with me about my order. Actually, no, I would have left at the half-hour mark.
NickApril 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm (12 years ago)
If we’d just left they probably would have called the cops or something so I’m not sure if it would have been worth the trouble of dealing with that.
In retrospect we probably should have just left before that, but we had eight people and four different cars, so meeting somewhere else after all that would have been a pain. Plus, by the time our food finally did get there it was pretty late and I think we were all so hungry at that point that we were just grateful that it was finally there.
bonmotApril 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm (12 years ago)
I hate to be “that guy” but it’s “faze,” not “phase.” A phase is a stage or period in a process of change or development. To faze is to disturb or disconcert.
But I’m sorry you received such horrible service! Perhaps the restaurant was going through an awkward phase – don’t let it faze you!
NickApril 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm (12 years ago)
Ha ha, I’m actually glad you pointed that out. I just fixed it. Usually I’m super crazy about grammar, spelling and using the correct forms of words, so I’m actually a little surprised that I missed it.
kikoApril 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm (12 years ago)
Sushi with cream cheese, deep fried with mayonnaise? Don’t make me puke.
You ignorant hick – they should have given you dog food wrapped in newspaper.
But what can you expect from Wisconsin?
NickApril 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm (12 years ago)
I’m pretty sure I’ve had similar maki rolls in places like L.A. and Las Vegas… Who knows though, maybe they just put those on their menu for the visitors they get from Wisconsin.
SarahApril 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm (12 years ago)
Wow. Something like that happened to me at a Japanese restaurant where we’re regulars except that the waitress was more a bit on the dim side than trying to be rude. She forgot to put in our order on a very busy night, forgot about allergies and also brought us the wrong food. She actually had the courage to tell us straight-up that our food was taking an extra long time because she’d forgotten to ring it in, and so she’d asked for some quick to make appetizers so we’d at least have something ot munch on. In any case, I could hardly eat anything because of the food mix ups and it was getting really late – I just wanted to go home and eat something safe. Management wasn’t in that night, but the next time we went in and told our story (because we’d asked if the nice, but very-bad-at-her-job waitress was working and if she was, could she _not_ serve us again) the owner comped our meal that night and gave us a certificate for the next time. So, maybe if you talk to the owner/manager, they might at least refund your meal and give you an incentive to come back again. It would also help to gauge whether the staff acted that way because they’re treated badly by management, in which case the restaurant is probably a lost cause.
HawkeyeApril 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm (12 years ago)
Great report Nick. I’ve been an avid reader for some time now. You strike me as a reasonable guy–well, except for some of your dining feats.
I’m not sure what else you could’ve done, and I think it’s absolutely fair to report your experience. The servers who posted complaints above seem overly petty and defensive. I don’t think the business owner’s maxim is “the server is always right.” Yeah, there are asshole customers out there. That sucks, and that’s part of having a job where you interact with other humans. But this seems like a service breakdown. And if servers find serving difficult or unpleasant, they should try a different job, like public school teacher. Or if they have a problem dealing with people, maybe try toll booth attendant or night watchmen.
Keep rockin’ Nick.
NickApril 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm (12 years ago)
Thanks! I’m actually extremely reasonable when it comes to stuff like this, but our experience that night was just so unbelievable to not mention it. Based on some of the other reviews I’ve read about Kiku on Yelp and Urbanspoon it looks like quite a few other people have had similar experiences there as well.
HawkeyeApril 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm (12 years ago)
whoops, watchman, not watchmen. (thanks bon mot, not “bonmot,” for making me proofread!)
jettApril 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm (12 years ago)
I love all the people who work there who have logged in to comment! It’s so smooth and not at all obvious.
Zachary Jacob ZblewskiApril 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm (12 years ago)
A friend of mine recommended this place to me last time I was passing through Milwaukee. I’m glad we decided we didn’t want sushi that night and went somewhere else.
How was the service the first night you went? Did it still take them an hour or so to bring anything out? I wonder what they do for the hour from when they take your order until they bring it out.
NickApril 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm (12 years ago)
Yeah, it’s usually pretty slow service, but never that slow. Before that though I’d only been there during the week when there were usually only three or four tables of people in there.
It’s not even the fact that it took so long that bothered us, it was just the terrible service all around and our waiter continually arguing with us.
AnonymousMay 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm (12 years ago)
I think I know exactly who you are talking about 🙂
I had the WORST most RIDICULOUS experience at this place. First, the waitress confided to me in spanish that there was a lot of sexual harassment happening by the manager and none of the female staff were happy working there. This “server” LOUDLY verbally fought with another server and was barking out orders to my and many other customers disbelief. I invites the waitress to have a drink at my table after her shift, and she agreed. This “server” then proceeds to walk over to our table with a “no she didnt” scowl on his face. I told him that we had invited her to sit with us. He LITERALLY told me “Yeah, thats nice.” and brushed me off. I breathed through wanting to put my foot through his chest. He then proceeded to scold this girl in the middle of the dining room! As I left, I looked back at the manager and his idiot server. The manager asked if everything was alright. I said no as the door closed. He rushed outside, where I assumed he was going to apologize and say Im sorry, but our policy doesnt allow servers to sit with customers, etc. Instead, he begins YELLING at me and threatens to call the police because she is underage. I responded with the fact that I hadnt ordered her an alcoholic beverage, and a “drink” can be juice, soda, or water. Furthermore, if anyone was going to get in trouble it would be his establishment for serving her an alcoholic beverage, and so in and so forth. The friend I was with laughed because she works for the police. She said go ahead, I will probably personally know the respondimg officer. Rather than reply with my fists, I bid him a good night, and comforted the crying waitress. I strongly recommend anyone with half a shred of decency of class to never go to Kikous Sushi in downtown. And to the “server” with an ego the size of Rhode Island, you WILL get what is coming to you. Karma. Namyo Ho Renge Kyo. Domo Arigato. That place is ridiculous….
JessicaMay 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm (12 years ago)
Hi, my name is Jessica, Iâ€™m the manager at Kiku. We are trying to do something for your bad experience. We would like to make it up to you by offering a $25 gift card so you can come try us one more time. Please send me your e-mail address to try to get you in as soon as possible. I appreciate you reading this e-mail.
-your friends at Kikus!
NickMay 26, 2011 at 10:27 am (12 years ago)
Thank you for the offer, but I think I’ll decline. Based on other reviews I’ve read this doesn’t really seem to be an isolated incident, and there are way too many other great sushi places in and around Milwaukee that I’ve had excellent service at for me to come back to Kiku.
JessicaMay 31, 2011 at 7:21 pm (12 years ago)
Well thank you, hopefully you never ever get that kinf of experience again. We are sincerely sorry and are working on improving every minute of th day. IF you ever change your mind well send coupons all day everyday just shoot emal to [email protected] WE ARED WILLING TO OFFER 50$ COUPONS TO LET YOU KNOW WE ARENT PLAYING ANYMORE.
Mat SJune 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm (12 years ago)
Whoa, sounds like quite a night! I have been into Kiku a few times and to an extent have ran into some of the problems you described in your article… slow food prep and suspect waiters being the main issues. That being said, these haven’t been enough to keep me away as our food orders have always been spot on and very tasty. Maybe it’s just me but I am always willing to overlook staff errors or attitudes as long as the food tastes great.
NickJune 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm (12 years ago)
I generally agree about overlooking staff errors and attitude, but this experience was just WAY too terrible for me to ever want to go back.
What makes it even worse is that after that night I found out that our waiter was actually the owner of Kiku, and for an owner of a restaurant to act the way he did is completely inexcusable.
SallyJuly 10, 2011 at 5:06 am (12 years ago)
Yes, do not eat here. There are a lot better places to eat then this one. The four of us waited for our food for more than an half an hour. We were the only customers. And then when it finally arrived three orders had been put on one plate instead of everyone having their own. And after that we had to wait for the forth one to arrive after three of us had finished eating.
The food is not even that good, prices are way too expensive considering the quality of food.
Also a male waiter acted rude (extremely rude) towards us and then when we didn’t leave him 18% tip which was handwritten on the bill by himself (we did leave some, but not the 18%), he tried to stop us by running after us and closing the door in front of a member of our group. Some of us had already stepped out to the street and couldn’t believe our eyes.
We thought we were being generous considering the poor service we got and still decided to leave some tip, but no way we were going to give him the 18%. So we explained to him why we didn’t feel we should tip him that much. Then he got really upset about it and started yelling even more.
But do you want to know the best part of our whole experience here? I think it was great when the manager/owner came to our “rescue” and yelled at the waiter “let the Fuckers go”!
What a great service, right? If you are dining here I have to warn you this is Milwaukee’s version of Chicago’s famous Wiener’s Circle, but these guys aren’t even funny. Yeah, fuck you too Milwaukee.
Ben A. StarksJuly 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm (12 years ago)
Well, once again we were treated shabbily at Kiku Japanese Restaurant. After first being thrown out by a staff member (and called a MF!!!) who refused to change a $1 BILL SO WE COULD PARK AND EAT. We were offered a FREE dinner tonight to apologize. We got there and they didn’t give us the dinner, they offered a $20 coupon. We left. The Shepherd Express should be ashamed of them using their name all over their store.
ChristianOctober 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm (12 years ago)
OMG. I just ate there and had almost the same experience. Unreal. Someone should post this on their door! I just dont understand how service gets that bad!
NickOctober 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm (12 years ago)
You’d be amazed how many people I’ve talked to that have had similar experiences there. They must rely on new customers coming there all the time (which is probably why Kiku always has deals on places like Groupon and Living Social) or people from out of town that are staying downtown. I can’t imagine that they have many repeat customers at all.
lisaJune 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm (11 years ago)
Oh gosh. Kiku is awful! Never had anything but bad service there.
I’m finally to the point where if someone suggests that place i put my foot down and say no! 🙂
Love the blog, btw. Been reading it all morning. I’m going to try and recreate some of your genious work!
NickJune 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm (11 years ago)
Yeah it’s funny, almost every single person I know who used to go to Kiku eventually ended up having a super bad experience there and ended up never going back. I can’t believe how many stories that I’ve heard that were similar to my experience there.
I seriously have no idea how they’re even still in business.
@sillyamyAugust 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm (11 years ago)
this is horrible!!!!
@sillyamyAugust 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm (11 years ago)
this is horrible!!!!