The hibachi (heating device) originates from Japan and goes back as far as 794 AD. In Japan, the hibachi was not typically used for cooking but rather for heating, often seen in waiting rooms at train stations before WWII. They have gradually been replaced by oil heaters, which are commonplace in Japan. Hibachi in the United States often refers to small cooking grills or portable barbecues made of aluminum or cast iron. Most of us are more familiar with hibachi style cuisine, which is basically Japanese teppanyaki cooking, in which gas heated large hot plates are integrated into tables around which many people can sit and eat at once. The chef performs the cooking in front of the people dining, utilizing a theatrical flair, such as when he lights a volcano shaped stack of raw onion hoops on fire.
Hibachi is an interactive and popular style of dining among children, families and groups of teenagers. It works well for a special celebration dinner where all attendees can participate in the fun with the chef at the center of the “entertainment.”
My awesome nephew Christopher turned 13 in August. His choice for his family birthday dinner was at Flame (82nd & Columbus Ave.) in NYC. Flame is a relatively new hibachi-style restaurant with a very nice menu of appetizers, salads, soups, hibachi entrees and more.
We were 12 people seated around one hibachi grill, with Christopher seated across from the chef between his Mom and his sister Maya. He had a smile from ear to ear when the chef began his theatrics and his Happy Birthday wishes. The hibachi entrees included: filet mignon,
NY strip steak, chicken, duck, shrimp and scallops. Mixed vegetables were cooked up for everyone as well as fried rice. We first enjoyed a few appetizers and then were served our entrees, all sharing the wonderful vegetables and rice.
Chardonnay and cabernet were the wines of choice, but typically saki is served in Japanese restaurants. Dinner was topped off with a specialty cake and Happy Birthday wishes were sung by the staff and family around the hibachi table.
Janetta’s rating: 8 for Food, 8 for atmosphere, 8 for service. Overall rating is 8 for total hibachi experience. Try it with your family or send your teenage kids who will certainly enjoy this experience with their friends.