My extended family absolutely looooves this place. It’s a standard for birthdays (not mine) and other special occasion family gatherings. Really? Ugh. But the more people I ask, the more I realize I’m in a slim minority of the population that finds having to clap for their food and dive for flying vegetables unnerving. April is birthday season in my clan, so I decide to keep an open mind and square up for a fun time. We’re off to Hibachi!
The inside of this Japanese steakhouse is pretty utilitarian. For the exception of a fish tank that holds four giant goldfish that look mighty cramped, the Hibachi grills and surrounding seats are the only décor. Not that anyone needs to be tricked into thinking they are dining inside an actual dojo because the experience is really about the food.
I have to admit, the chefs definitely have some kitchen skills. The way they throw those knives and spatulas around—it’s like watching a Kung Fu movie where the hero gets into a tussle with an onion and a pack of bean sprouts. Diners here should be in a playful mood because it’s expected that you’re going to participate in the wonderment and applause when the chef does the “I-can-flip-a-shrimp-into-my-hat” trick and the ensuing hilarity of catching sling-shot zucchini pieces in your mouth. I would highly recommend, however, that if you bring young children (say, under 4 years old), that you excuse yourself from the table for the first two minutes since the chefs grease the grill up for a flaming inferno that has you checking to see if your eyebrows are still intact. Can be quite scary for the little ones.
On The Menu
There’s certainly no shortage of options on Hibachi’s rather extensive menu which includes every Teppanyaki (stir fry, to the layman) variety under the sun ($16-27) and tons of other stuff like soups, salads, noodle dishes, tempura and katsu ($10-$15). Oh, and over 60 types of made-to-order sushi ($4-9) which, in my personal opinion, is pretty excellent. They also offer a children’s menu (for kids 12 and under) of shrimp, chicken or steak Teppanyaki for $12.95.
The thing I don’t love about the food here is that everything comes out separately, particularly if you are ordering the Teppanyaki dishes (and of course you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be here). If you are one of those people who eats their meals in categories (all starches first, followed by the protein, then the veggies last), you’re in luck because it’s cooked and served in that order. For someone like me who prefers to eat their meal with all of the components simultaneously present, you’ll inevitably be eating luke warm fare at the end. However, there’s plenty of it, so maybe grazing is the only way to get through this dining adventure. Each entrée is served with soup, salad, rice, your choice of protein and vegetables. You leave full, just sayin’.
What’s The Damage
For the four of us (two kids, two adults), the bill was around $75, and that didn’t include any extras like sushi or fancy drinks. Definitely not cheap, but if you factor in the “dinner and a show” aspect, I guess you could justify the additional expense. And if it’s your birthday, you also get a free Gong ringing which lets the entire restaurant know that you’re another year older (note to self: do not mention birthday at said restaurant).
The Bottom Line (based on a five-star rating):
Distraction Offering: ????½ (between the fish tank and the chef tricks, not much time for complaining)
Atmosphere: ??? (it is what it is)
Food: ???¾ (personally, I think the Teppanyaki dishes are OK, but the sushi bumps up the rating in my book)
Affordability: ??? (if you’re on a budget, probably not the best choice)
Service: ???? (the waitstaff is extremely attentive and since you have the chef trapped behind the grill, you can make any and all requests on the spot)
Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse
2466 Lafayette Road (Rt. 1 South) Portsmouth NH (603)436-2898
Have you been to Hibachi Japanese Steak House? Stupid or fantastic? Kids or no kids?