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Samurai Japanese Steakhouse is located on Wolf Road in Colonie, in the old Burger King building, next to the Hess gas station. When you walk in, you're momentarily confused because technically you can walk to the left or the right. After a moment, you realize the hostess station is on the right hand side. Aside from that momentary confusion, there's a wonderfully decorative waterfall at the front door that's done quite nicely.

The rest of the decor is tastefully done, and on par with most Japanese Steakhouses I've been in. The seated dinner area is separate from the hibachi area. There's a mixture of dark Earth tones, with pops of color here and there, andthe overall theme is one of sharp lines (square, rectangle) versus rounded curves.

The service was odd, almost overbearing. One server came to take our drink order. Then, two minutes later, another server asked us if we ordered drinks yet. I thought it was just our table at first, but then noticed it happen with another table as well. Disorganized at best. A second issue I had, which I found to be a theme in Japanese Restaurants (and one Chinese Restaurant) of the area, was the language barrier. Asking questions of our server was an exercise in futility. They're not knowledgeable, and are literally there just to write down the items from the menu as you order them.

On to the food. For appetizers, we ordered Rock Shrimp ($7.95), and Spicy Tuna Tar Tar ($8.95). The Rock Shrimp had an off-putting batter texture. It was soft, and greasy, and indicative of not being properly drained after frying. The sauce was haphazardly put on, which meant only the pieces with sauce were flavorful. Some of the greens had more sauce than the actual shrimp.

By contrast, the Tuna Tar Tar was delightfully fresh. There was amazing presentation, which included very skilled knife work. Our main issue with the dish was that the tuna itself, outside of the spicy sauce, was very bland. At first, I thought it was just me holding an expectation to sushi grade fish that shouldn't be had. However, the more I thought about some of my favorite sushi experiences, I knew it wasn't asking much for the actual fish to hold a distinct flavor. The tuna had no flavor of its own.

For our entrees we ordered three rolls; The Fire House Roll ($11.95), The Fantastic Roll ($12.95), and a Spicy Yellowtail Roll ($4.95). The Fire House Roll became a source of some issue. It was supposed to be shrimp tempura inside, with a spicy tuna and crunch mixture on top. When it arrived, there were also cucumbers inside which was nowhere on the menu. Since this was one of Brian's rolls, and he doesn't like cucumber in his sushi rolls, he brought it up to the attention of the staff.

The staff promptly got to work on a second roll, and left the first one at our table because it couldn't be reused. Since I don't mind cucumbers in sushi rolls, I picked at a couple of pieces, and enjoyed the flavor of the roll greatly. Oddly enough, when the second roll arrived, I liked it a lot less than the first. The problem was the same that was had with the Rock Shrimp appetizer. The shrimp tempura was fried, wrapped immediately, topped with the cold topping, and served. The lack of draining the grease, and letting the shrimp cool, resulted in the roll having two extreme tempuratures (hot inside, and cold outside). Additionally, the batter was greasy and soft, as opposed to light and crispy.

The Fantastic Roll, while presented well, was just too large to manage. The fish inside (tuna, and salmon among them) had no flavor of its own, necessitating the use of soy but then the soy pretty much overpowered everything, being the only flavor of the roll (rather than complimenting it). Plus, the special seaweed it was wrapped in tasted like a tortilla roll. Not seaweed. I couldn't finish it.

Saving grace? The Spicy Yellowtail was actually enjoyable, flavorful, and delicious.

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Spicy Tuna Tar Tar Rock Shrimp
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Fire House Roll (top left), Spicy Yellowtail (top right), Fantastic Roll (bottom)