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.
Led by head shushi chef Toshiaki Mizutani, a Tokyo native with more than 30 years of experience, the chefs at Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant craft sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and crispy tempura-fried entrees from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Its most popular rolls include the Wuz Up Be roll, stuffed with spicy yellowtail, avocado, and green wasabi-flavored tobiko, and the Deadliest Catch roll with snow crab, avocado, mayo, and roe, all topped with grilled eel and a savory sauce. Fuji rolls are filled, volcano-style, with spicy hot sauce, and after taking a bite, diners can put out the flames that erupt from their mouths with Japanese and domestic beer, sake, and wine.
In addition to sushi, guests feast on steak, chicken, and seafood in housemade teriyaki sauce. They slurp down noodle dishes or crunch into meats, vegetables, and tofu coated in tempura batter and fried to a light, crispy finish.
There are two menus at The Art of Sushi: one for Japanese entrees, and one for sushi. That doesn't mean that the kitchen and the sushi chefs can't collaborate, however. During dinner, they join forces to create bento boxes lined with crispy tempura, gyoza, and California rolls. The King Lobster maki roll, by the same token, pairs lobster tempura rolls with half of a fried lobster tail.
If you'd rather stick to one style, then peruse ginger stir-fries, noodle soups, and meats flavored with homemade teriyaki sauce. Alternatively, the sushi side features both raw and cooked seafood, balanced atop pads of rice without a single safety harness. Pair meals with glasses or bottles from the wine list, which also features sake options, plum wine, and imported Japanese beers.
Tokyo Bay Mang Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse spans a spectrum of cooking ideologies, simultaneously folding fresh, raw fish into sushi rolls, searing hibachi items in a scorching blaze, and rounding out the menu with pan-Asian entrees and Thai dishes. Chefs fire up three front-and-center teppanyaki tables, where flaming plumes obscure steak, shrimp, and scallops. The King lobster sushi roll sports dual tempura and fried lobster tails swept up in the flavors of faux crab, asparagus, avocado, and eel sauce. Basil sprinkles thai curries and piping-hot seafood, served behind a façade that mimics the tiered roofs in Thailand that protect possessions from pad thai monsoons.
Edo Japanese Steakhouse’s chefs simmer and slice tender cuts of chicken, seafood, and steak into sauce-coated dishes. Enter a sleek dining room peppered with authentic Eastern artwork such as traditional fans and Godzilla’s third-grade self-portrait before diving into bowls of yakisoba noodles with chicken ($11.99) or special seafood udon ($12.99). Yakiniku beef inundates taste buds with a wave of hot and spicy flavor ($13.95), and cutlets of deep-fried tonkatsu pork ($11.99) are whisked to plates by blue-robe-bedecked wait staff. At the crimson-seat-adorned sushi bar, two fish manipulators lure raw octopus, salmon, and tuna into hand-wrapped rolls by beatboxing a rendition of the Free Willy theme, as detailed on an expansive sushi menu.
A.J. Jewell, born in Japan to an American father and a Japanese mother who was a chef, inherited a love of cooking that transcended the Pacific. When he moved to Tampa in the 1980s, it was only logical that he follow his mother into the restaurant business. At age 18, he trained as a teppanyaki chef, learning to commune with the open flame, and soon after apprenticed under master chefs to perfect his technique. After years at Sushi Tsu, sharpening his culinary acumen, and studying world cuisine, Jewell became its owner. Each of Sushi Tsu's chefs apprentices under Jewell's sage gaze for two years before stepping into their role as teppanyaki specialists. Diners can request their favorite chef for their meal to build a rapport or establish an ongoing rock-paper-scissors game. In addition to serving fresh sushi and hot hibachi-style steakhouse food, the eatery showcases local artists with occasional live jazz music on weekends and artists painting inside the restaurant.