June 29, 2010

BEST Hibachi

A close-up on the shrimp starter - they are SO delicious and were the only part I finished before the next course was served...
Hibachi noodles
Hibachi noodles + fried rice
Hibachi noodles + fried rice + filet mignon
Hibachi noodles + fried rice + filet mignon + hibachi vegetables
...And the perfect final palette cleanser, green tea ice cream!

If you have never experienced Japanese hibachi, you're missing out on a GREAT dining experience. Not only is the food usually great - and quite plentiful - but it's always dinner with a show. From tossing eggshells into their chef hats, to spinning knives and spatulas around forks and tongs, to setting the table aflame before your eyes - going out for a hibachi dinner is sure to set you smiling and satisfied all night.

Hibachi is essentially a flat, metal stovetop that I've typically seen around two feet wide and maybe four or five feet long, set in the middle of your dining table. The chef comes in, turns on the fan and the heat, and begins to put on a show as he prepares your meal. Most hibachi restaurants will offer you some combination of miso soup and ginger dressing salad starters, then hibachi shrimp, fried rice, noodles, vegetables, AND your choice of meat. Typically dining out, the food on your plate DECREASES as the meal goes on - but it's just the opposite at hibachi restaurants! It's always a lot of fun with tasty food and lots of humor and amusement.

However. Of all of the places I have had hibachi, there is one that stands out: Banzai in Hamilton, New Jersey. I was worried when we went recently for a special occasion that it may have changed over the years since I was last there - but no, the chefs have only gotten quicker and the food, tastier! Banzai sets itself apart with its perfect sauces and seasoning - nothing too strong, overpowering, or salty, just fine and fresh flavors. And they have the best hibachi shrimp I've ever had, perfectly cooked and flavored, and steak so juicy it practically melts in your mouth. They know exactly what they're doing on their hibachis to bring out the best flavors of their food, which I think is really important when you're working with (what to many I would assume is) a novelty cooking technique. It's just a pleasure to dine there - and there are ALWAYS leftovers, as Banzai serves ALL of the food mentioned in the last paragraph as included in their hibachi dinners. Plus ice cream! Just when you think 'Oh, this isn't too much food!' you suddenly remember you STILL have the meat course...and then vegetables...and then dessert... But not to fear, it's even better reheated or cold the next day!!

Where you can enjoy this yourself:

Banzai Japanese Restaurant
3690 Quakerbridge Road
Route 553
Hamilton, New Jersey

I would most highly recommend ordering a shrimp, steak/filet mignon, or respective combination hibachi meal. You have it with my definite seal of approval. ;-)

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