Impressed by the flavor and precision of Okinawa Hibachi Steakhouse's cuisine and chefs, respectively, the readers of Westchester Magazine cast their votes to name the restaurant the home of the area's best hibachi in 2011. Surrounded by the glowing reds and golden hues of the dining room, chefs sear and manipulate meats and vegetables at traditional teppanyaki tables, cooking steaks to order and cutting heads of broccoli to resemble arms of broccoli. At the sushi bar, a line of chefs assemble maki rolls and platters of sushi and sashimi. The trickle from the fountain in the dining room provides a soothing soundtrack for fully equipped eating contests.
Described as "part restaurant, part amusement park" by [The New York Times_] Okinawa's dining room is filled with the exhilarating eruptions of flame and steam at its hibachi tables. Featuring both a sushi bar and hibachi grilles, the restaurant's extensive menu lists an impressive assortment dishes from each, including more than 40 types of sushi rolls, a host of classic teriyaki entrees, and 30 hibachi dinners prepared before wide-eyed diners' and their jealous personal chefs.
U-Me Sushi Hibachi Japanese Restaurant forges together the flavors of its ample menu with the flourishes of fiery tableside hibachi-style preparation. The behind-the-scenes action leaps to the fore at the sushi bar, where nimble fingers assemble delectables into neat bundles such as the california maki roll ($5). Understudies of Elvis impersonators can rouse mouths with the Rock'n roll, its tobiko-ensconced shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, and cream cheese tastefully harmonizing ($12.50), and the vegetarian roll composes notes of lettuce, carrot, cucumber, radish, and more ($6.50). Those seeking heated eats can let eyes alight on the scintillating energy of the hibachi-style craft as chefs sear steaks and sizzle edibles on table-mounted gas griddles. Chicken teriyaki ($14.50) and sukiyaki nabe, a medley of beef and veggies cooked in succulent broth ($14.50), are among many offerings sweetly capped off with fried bananas ($5.50) or fried ice cream ($5.50).
With cream-hued seating flanked by gray stone walls, it?s no wonder ?modern? is included in Bambu's name. The atmosphere's more reminiscent of an upscale living room than a traditional dining room: slate tiles and hardwood cover the floors, and elegant leather chairs surround both bistro-style and hibachi tables. And while diners cozy into their seats, chefs stand mere feet away, chopping up steak and chicken, and setting towers of onion rings afire.
But the entertaining display?a signature of any hibachi chef?isn't the only show guests can watch. At the helm of the sushi station is Sushi Chef Hiroshi, who boasts more than 15 years of slicing and stuffing fish into rolls. He builds each one with unconventional yet tasty combinations, such as salmon, lobster tempura, and fried bananas. He even eschews traditional green seaweed wraps in some rolls, instead holding ingredients firm with pink seaweed or edible c-clamps.
Like high-school students at a science demonstration, patrons at Koo Restaurant gather around a table, oohing and ahhing as flames dance high in the air. But instead of test tubes and beakers, the person behind the table wields knives and spatulas, slicing and flipping meats and veggies over a hibachi grill. Once each morsel has sizzled to a crisp golden brown, chefs divvy them up onto plates, and the guests devour the food that was just cooked right before their eyes.
Hibachi meals?which include filet mignon, scallop, and lobster-tail options?are not the only Japanese fare served within Koo's bold red and gray walls. Regular tables host plates of wok-fried noodles, teriyaki shrimp, sesame-crusted ahi tuna, and sushi rolls. Chefs also whip up smaller, tapas-style plates, so groups can bond by sharing steamed shrimp dumplings or stacking thai spring rolls into a rickety Jenga tower.
The deft chefs at Johnny Roll House roll fresh ingredients into cylindrical eats, purveying a menu of innovative sushi and Japanese entrees. Six steamed shrimp dumplings ribbon dance across tongues with an order of shumai ($5), making way for the deep-fried spring rolls of a harumaki starter ($5). Capped with a homemade sauce, the Johnny Roll ($13) layers crispy shrimp tempura and avocado atop tuna and salmon. Use sweet-heat to blast dust-bunnies out of sinus cavities with the Super Fire roll’s ($13) triumvirate of yellowtail, jalapeño, and scallion topped with seared tuna and spicy mayo. The salmon teriyaki entree ($15) girds muscles with protein and, unlike divorce papers, comes served with miso soup and salad. With vibrant rosaceous walls to complement its tasty fare, Johnny Roll House rouses sensory systems without Pavlovian reinforcement.