First of all, it wasn't my idea to go there - in fact, when SO brought it up, I was apalled. But SO's dear friends are visiting from Boston, and they already had reservations for 2, which they kindly offered to change to 4 so that we could all go together. We really wanted to spend time with them, and it would have been rudely pushy to try to change the venue, so we agreed.
[Sidebar: I don't know quite how we keep getting into this situation with SO's visiting friends. Last time, a different pair of out-of-towners picked the Ivy, and the time before that, yet a third couple selected Doughboys. And the infuriating thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion that all of these people go back to where they live and tell all their friends, "Gosh, there's just NO GOOD FOOD in LA! Cultural wasteland, you know." These are well-educated, well-traveled people - and now that there's a decent search function on this website, there's just no excuse for not doing your homework!]
So, Yamashiro. To be fair, we'd never been before, and I thought it was possible that my instinct that it is a cheesy, overpriced tourist trap was born of a native-Angeleno snobbery that I should try to keep in check. So I tried to go into it with an open mind. But it turns out that a cheesy, overpriced tourist trap is EXACTLY what it is.
First, the much-lauded view. Yes, it is definitely the best thing about the place, and when you're standing at the end of the property looking over the city, you can forget for a moment that you're at what feels like Disney's Japanese Village. But at our table in the "Sunset Room", half the view was of the parking lot, which cuts the romance significantly.
Next, the ambience and service. To be honest, I'm shocked that a city that boasts many very vibrant Asian communites allows this kind of cultural stereotyping and caricaturing to exist. I understand that it's Hollywood - I suppose it's no worse that Mann's Chinese, or the Egyptian, or any other fake temple of Hollywood's love of so-called "exoticism". But, horrific architecture aside, there does seem to me to be something offensive about having a bevy of white hostesses greet you at the door, while all of the waitresses I saw were Japanese (and not very good waitresses, by the way!).
Finally, the food. Don't eat it - it's bad. Enough said.