In Dunn, if you are looking for a fine dining atmosphere or a place for date-night, your options are limited. However, the one place that never disappoints and makes a big impact is Yamato. Nestled at the end of the shopping strip that includes Roses and is across the parking lot from Jernigan's, is the Japanese cuisine of Yamato. In Dunn, you can't find a better dinner. Keep in mind, since this might affect your decision to venture there: while this is Japanese food, they do not cook it table-side. Instead of the large tables where you are seated with strangers, they have one main grill that you can see from anywhere in the restaurant that makes all of the food. Then it gets delivered to you at your private table. Sure, there is no cooking show, but the lack of strangers squeezed next to you, might make up for it. I prefer the show, the freshness is unbeatable. Yes, we have been to Yamato many times, but mainly because of the good food, not necessarily the close location. While the have decent sushi (though it is the best sushi option in the entire Dunn area), we always start our meal with the Assorted Tempura appetizer. With that, you get four large shrimp, two huge onion rings, and a piece of broccoli, sweet potato, mushroom, and pepper all fried to perfection in their light tempura batter. The crunchiness is great and it is a very welcome way to start a meal. Typically for dinner, Megan and I order one of the steak dishes. I am a fan of the teriyaki steak because I am in love with teriyaki sauce and I prefer the broccoli that comes with it, to the mushrooms that Megan gets with the Hibachi steak. Our dinner always includes either a soup or salad. I always get the salad with the house-made ginger dressing. The dressing of is sweet with a little bit of tanginess. I've had lots of ginger dressings, but this is easily in the top 3-5 that I have ever had. The dressing is thick, which I love, and easily covers the fresh iceberg salad with carrot shavings and 2 cucumbers. Megan always gets the onion soup. She always likes the light, hot broth to give her something "warm in her belly" to start the meal. She likes the soup and almost always orders it, but I think it is just average, nothing bad, but nothing special about it.
Like I said, I get the Teriyaki steak, which includes two scoops of precooked rice, broccoli, and either sweet carrots or zucchini and onions. I always get the zucchini and onions as they are one of the best parts of the meal. I get the steak cooked medium-rare and then it is perfectly tender. Their teriyaki is a thick teriyaki that completely coats the steak. In fact, I even mix the rice into the teriyaki for added flavor. Their shrimp sauce (white sauce for some of you) is great. It is slightly sweet and a perfect accompaniment to steak, chicken, shrimp, rice, or vegetables. I am a sauce person, and that is a great addition to the meal. Megan likes the Hibachi steak since it comes with mushrooms. Basically, it is the same dish that I get, just cooked on a Hibachi without my teriyaki sauce. Yamato can be very good, but their record is spotty. Most of the time, everything is amazing. Other times, you can tell that the chicken or steak is overcooked and the rice was made hours ago. It is not the authentic table-side Hibachi cooking that you would expect from other Japanese places, but then again, the prices at Yamato are far better than most places. Chicken or steak are both under $10, while shrimp is under $13. Also their sushi is typically about $5-6 per roll, which is far cheaper than other places. Sometimes the waitresses are great, other times, they are merely average in their attentiveness and knowledge of the food. No matter your experience, Yamato is guaranteed to stuff you with food until you can't eat another bite. Oh, and keep their Bento boxes in mind as they are lots of different foods at a very reasonable price. I can easily tell you that in Dunn, you will never find a better dinner than at Yamato. I'm sure that Megan and I will be back there soon, as I suddenly have a craving for teriyaki.