A hibachi typically refers to a specific kind of flat-top grill that is popular with restaurants in the United States that cook a Japanese-inspired cuisine. The restaurants are very popular with families because of the performative aspects of the cooking by the chefs. They will often arrange onion slices into a tower to make a tiny volcano that shoots fire, flip pieces of shrimp into diners’ mouths, break eggs on their spatulas, and more. These theatrical aspects make a family restaurant such as this a great night out.
The name hibachi is actually a misnomer. In Japanese, the word means fire bowl. It refers to a fireproof cooking vessel placed over an open fire; it is more similar to a wok. The actual word for the flat-top cooking is teppanyaki. At a family restaurant, a teppanyaki chef puts on a show of cooking. The food itself is inspired by Japanese cuisine but it’s actually designed for Western diners. It is closer to Western cuisine than it is to Japanese. That is why it is paradoxically more popular with Western diners than Japanese diners even though it was inspired by Japanese cooks.
You can find a great example of this type of dining at osakasushims.com. They provide an entertaining night that involves great food.
Teppanyaki is a decidedly Japanese food; Mongolian barbecue is typically prepared on a smaller and rounder flat-top grill. However, many of the dishes that you get from a teppanyaki restaurant can be inspired by Mongolian barbecue, especially the beef dishes. Mongolian beef is a common dish that is made in Chinese, Japanese, and other restaurants. It has been adapted by each culinary tradition and also made more popular with Western diners.
If you are taking your family somewhere for dinner, you should consider teppanyaki. It is truly great fun. You can also follow them on Instagram.
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