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.
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.
Bento boxes, sushi rolls, and noodle soups make up the menus at Ichi Riki, where chopsticks can lock onto bites of familiar Japanese cuisine. Spicy and mild rolls include fillings such as fresh salmon, tuna, or eel with avocado. Baskets of shrimp and vegetables plunge into the bubbling deep fryer, where they transform into golden tempura. These classic dishes are offered à la carte or as part of combination platters. Pickup and delivery services let patrons enjoy their meals in the comfort of their own cabins made of chopsticks. Their tatami room is also available to accommodate up to 40 people for any occasion.
A fishpond murmurs beside the entrance to Plum Tree Japanese Restaurant, where owner and head chef Hiroyuki "James" Nagata oversees his lunch and dinner recipes. Nagata, whose decades of culinary experience include a stint at one of the world's largest fish markets, rolls and slices sushi. His sushi creations include minced scallop sashimi and the Plum Tree Roll, whose medley of tuna and eel is crowned with a rainbow of roe. The recently renovated restaurant—in business for 20 years—sets an elegant scene, with walnut and cherry-wood floors, hand-painted wallpaper, and doorways arched like Shinto shrines. Outside, the patio’s waterfall emanates the pleasant sound of splashes, like a walrus playing in a flooded basement.