Takara Japanese Restaurant in Madison has been my fall back choice for sushi and Japanese for a while. The sushi is adequate. Be certain to avoid anything particularly sensitive to freshness; avoid the anago (sea eel). The service is apathetic. The other entrées aren't amazing, but they're fine.
You'll get far, far better sushi and service at Sushi Muramoto, a mile or so away. But if Sushi Muramoto is more expensive and frequently packed. Until today, I was happy to go to Takara is I wanted some sushi and didn't want to wait for Sushi Muramoto.
The true test of a restaurant is how they handle a problem. Problems occasionally happen, even in the best restaurants. Handled well, it can even be a good mark for the restaurant. Handled adequately and I'll be a bit disappointed, but I'll come back if normally things are better. Takara failed to even make "adequate."
A group of 7 visited Takara this evening. As usual, the sushi was okay and the service was mediocre. One of our party ordered several sushi rolls. One of those rolls was, by her account, poor tasting. She was concerned it was no longer good. This was not an unusual roll; it was a California Roll I believe. This was a type of roll my friend has had repeatedly (although not at Takara), so she had some grounds to judge it.
Having had only two pieces my friend sent it back. Our waitress was confused by the idea that someone would "send it back," but after a moment seemed to understood, gave a clumsy apology, and took the roll away.
We finished and asked for our bills. The returned roll still appeared on the bill. It wasn't a lot of money, perhaps $6 on a bill that easily exceeded $150, but it was the principle of the thing. My friend asked for the manager.
The manager appeared reasonably promptly. My friend stated that the roll in question was unacceptable and asked that it be removed. At this point, Takara showed it's true colors. She apologized that the roll was not acceptable, but said that my friend had ordered it and must pay for it. As a defense, she said that it had been made that day, and that no one else had complained.
This is gross incompetence on behalf of someone in the service industry. The appropriate thing to do is apologize and remove the charge. It's 6 lousy dollars, far less than the value of my friends swearing off Takara and warning their friends to avoid it. Failing that, you apologize for the unacceptable food, but also apologize that policy prevents you from remove the charge. But under no circumstances do you become defensive. It never improves the situation, and makes it clear that you are blaming the customer.
To save $6, Takara insulted a customer and angered 7 total.
Maybe next time, I'll wait and go to Sushi Muramoto. It's a bit more expensive, but the sushi is also better.