Dale Del Bello remembers everything about his first hibachi experience. While stationed in Korea as a part of the Air Force National Guard, Dale and a group of friends visited Tokyo on leave. They followed a traditional route among his fellow service people, which took him to a hibachi restaurant. Immediately he sensed that he’d stumbled upon more than just dinner. The chefs’ showmanship fascinated him as they seared meats and vegetables on their tabletop grills, allowing guests to sample forkfuls directly off the 600-degree surface. After returning to Buffalo, New York, in 1971, Dale opened his first Arigato location, attempting to recreate what made that dining experience so remarkable. Since then, he has distilled the authentic experience into something that families can enjoy without traveling abroad, establishing Arigato restaurants throughout New York and Florida and staffing them with more than 60 chefs from Japan.
Surrounded by 8–10 diners, these chefs act not only as the restaurant’s culinary creators, but also as showmen and magicians of sorts, dexterously slicing ingredients, flipping shrimp tails into their hats, and conjuring soy sauce out of thin air. Away from the flaming tabletops, meanwhile, bartenders make use of their own skill sets as they mix specialty cocktails, which occasionally use splashes of plum wine or sake to imbue familiar-sounding drinks with new dimension.
Yuki Japanese Steakhouse satisfies wanderlustful taste buds with a tantalizing spread of authentic international fare in a family-friendly dining environment. Set sail toward appetizer island with the seaweed salad ($5) or head straight for dinner bay with the beef katsu, a breaded culet fried to a crunchy crisp and served with rice and vegetables ($17.95). Fresh sushi options include the Mexican roll, curled up with fried shrimp, smelt, avocado and mayo ($5.50), and the Rainbow roll, which cleverly combines the flavors of seven different types of fish with refracted ultraviolet light ($8.50). Harrowing hungers find a three-course solution with the filet mignon and scallops-teppan dinner, served with soup, salad, veggies, and rice ($21.95).
At Sake House’s sprawling sushi bars, skilled chefs slice sashimi and wrap up rolls with fish such as fresh salmon and yellowtail. Though the eatery is known for its seafood, the kitchen also whips up pan-fried dumplings, bowls of udon soup, and chicken glistening with sweet teriyaki sauce. To aid decision-making, star icons call out popular items on the menu, pepper icons signify spicy dishes, and chef-hat icons designate the dishes that were pulled from the top chef’s hat.
The culinary creators at Chiang Mai Thai & Sushi Bar artfully twist a variety of sushi rolls and curate a menu of traditional Thai dishes. The hot pepper and basil with beef or pork ($10.99) and Siam tofu ($14.99) are both doused in house-made chili sauce, which warms tongues with a gentle flame beneath the restaurant's potted bamboo and hanging art. The Fancy Duck dish ($18.99) arrives tableside with a posse of cashews and veggies while dinners admire dishes elegantly presented on indigo flatware, ornate wooden trays, and the backs of sleeping butlers. Cool glasses of Singha beer ($4.99 each) complement rolls from the sushi menu, such as the Dancing Dragon ($13.99), a duo of shrimp tempura and imitation crab that sashays among cucumber and scallions to a smattering of masago applause.