2100 Ward Street
Berkeley, CA 94705
Man, this is going to be painful.
I have loved Kirala.
But when we went last time, it was all blunders. The friendly-but-goofy waiter got two out of four orders wrong. I had ordered curry soba. But he brought out udon. My friend ordered the OTHER lunch special.
By the time my order came--which seemed to have taken ages--everyone else had finished. So they were all watching me eat. And I was trying my hardest to slurp down boiling hot soup as soon as I could without burning my mouth and resembling a slobbering animal. I was sweating, requiring me to peel myself off the seat later when we finally left.
Indeed quite a bit of time transpired between when I finished my soup, and the time we actually left. We were waiting and waiting and waiting for the check to come. We could see the seasons changing out the window.
Since we had the table waaay in the back of the restaurant which benefits from privacy, it was hard to flag down our waiter. When he finally arrived, he set down two bowls of ice cream instead of the check. They were his apology for being scattered.
It may have been the only occasion in my life when I was actually disappointed to see ice cream. We were stuffed and we needed to get going.
Of course we weren't going to leave ice cream there. So we stabbed it with our spoons and it was delicious.
Still the check was remarkably late, and the ice cream didn't cure all.
AND THERE'S MORE:
Besides what I've already written, there was a rude woman server (helping the main server) who came by and practically dumped our dishes on our table. I might expect such "service" at another type of restaurant. But It was appalling to be treated this way at a Japanese joint.
THAT SAID: the food was great. That was no surprise. My soup was intensely flavorful though I think that udon noodles go better with it.
AND: the hostess at the front was darling. It was clear she has a stake in customers' dining experiences. She made our way to the table once, but unfortunately not a second time when I would have had much to share (because I care!).
I will go back to Kirala because I have had better experiences there, and I have faith in them. Plus, I really want to give this Berkeley institution a better review.