Friday, May 18, 2007

Hibachi (Closed)

Editor's note: Hibachi is now closed.

2809 Kirby Parkway, suite 109
(901) 737-2124

Today’s review of Hibachi in the Commercial Appeal, reminded me that my own review is long overdue.

A reader actually alerted me to the existence of this restaurant out on Kirby Parkway. Tempted by their Signature Maki Menu, I decided Hibachi might be a good place to cap off our April birthday bonanza.

The birthday bonanza dinner was attended by me, Warren, our monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3), my brother, my mom, my two sisters, and their three monkeys. Worried about taking eleven people to a restaurant I’d never tried, I suggested a last minute switch to Sekisui’s Crazy Hibachi. (Okay maybe Warren was the one with the foresight.) However, the calls had been made and the plan was in motion. There was no turning back.

We all arrived at 6:30 (effectively missing the Early Bird Specials) and took a seat at one of the six or seven hibachi tables. Everyone quickly set about reading the menu. Jiro and I couldn’t resist the sushi, but everyone else opted for hibachi. The downside of having a really fancy sushi menu is the fact that there were not a lot of simple (i.e. crunchy shrimp) rolls to choose from for Jiro. I ended up getting him a Shrimp Tempura roll ($6.95), which he soundly rejected for a reason I can’t recall. (Cucumber, maybe?) I ordered a New Orleans Maki (Cajun seasoned crawfish roll topped with pepper crusted tuna and avocado served with Cajun sauce--$10.95) and a Crazy Maki (spicy tuna, cucumber, sprouts, and shrimp tempura rolled in soybean paper--$7.95).

These rolls were massive. MASSIVE. I really liked them both. The pepper crusted tuna on the New Orleans Maki made it nice and spicy. The soybean paper, which was pink, made the Crazy Maki exciting and new. (What had really made this roll stand out on the menu was the giant strawberries garnishing it. The actual dish came with two tiny slivers of strawberry.) Having acquired Jiro’s reject roll, I offered Warren, my sister, and my brother pieces of each roll—and there was still a lot left.

In the end, I had to beg Warren to finish off the last few pieces. I really like trying big, fancy rolls, but it is more fun with a group. That way you can taste a lot of different ones. I’d say that this giant sushi needs to be tried one at a time—much like the giant sushi at Sakura. Otherwise, you are going to end up with a bloated belly (and bill).

Okay, on to the rest of the food. My nephew ordered a squid salad that he claimed was fantastic. Once he saw my sushi, he quickly asked if we could trade. I obliged. The squid salad was good. (It was very much like the one I had at the sushi gas station on Ridgeway & Poplar.) I can only eat so much squid though, so I passed it on to Warren to finish.

Our hibachi chef was very friendly and put on a nice show. (The kids always love the show.) He told my niece to open her mouth so he could launch a small bite of rice for her to catch. It took her about ten tries and he was very patient about her determination. Of course Satchel and my nephew also wanted turns, and he was very nice about that too.

Everyone generally liked their hibachi dinners which consisted of soup, salad, the selected meat, mushrooms (if you ordered steak), vegetables, and rice (fried if you like). My sister and mom, who frequent Shogun, were disappointed by the lack of noodles and sprouts which are standard there. (I think Nagasaki does sprouts too. Or maybe it's A-Tan.) There was also a general consensus that the dipping sauce was sub-par to other restaurants. My brother pointed out that our hibachi chef was Hispanic, which I hadn’t even noticed.

The thing that stood out to me was the fact that the kids’ meal hibachi dinners did not come with vegetables. Instead, they included ice cream. You can imagine my disdain. Sure, I know that kids like ice cream more than vegetables and that very few kids who eat hibachi probably eat the vegetables, but come on! My kids (and my sister’s) actually like and eat them. While I’m sure that the substitution of ice cream for vegetables is probably a popular one among most customers, I took it as a personal affront. And reason enough not to bring my kids back.


Okay if you are still reading, I’d like to mention that the kids were amazingly well-behaved and that the bathrooms were quite nice. The restaurant had a cool fountain that the kids liked and the staff was generally friendly.

But once the bulk of our food was eaten we had a bit of a snafu. The waitress came out with a tray of ice cream for the kids. I immediately told her that we did not want the ice cream. Not because I am an evil mother, but because we were all driving to my mom’s house to eat a very large and already paid for ice cream cake. I tried explaining this to the waitress, but something was lost in translation.

We were left waiting for the check for about twenty minutes. All of the monkeys had to be escorted outside to run along the sidewalk. When I finally tracked down the waitress to request the check, she apologized saying she thought that we were bringing in a cake from the car. Or something.

Our check came in one big bill: $223.01. With no calculator or reliable math skills, it took us quite some time to figure out who owed what. Each person generally seemed surprised by the amount of their meal and to this day no one knows for sure if they actually overpaid.

It was an unfortunate way to end the birthday bonanza. I don’t think I’ll be taking the monkeys back anytime soon. If I happen to be in East Memphis and get a hankering for enormous sushi (and Sakura is closed), I might go back and try a few other rolls.


Unknown said...

I really like the sushi and hibachi @ Osaka Japaneese Cuisine at Winchester & Houston Levee (across Houston Levee from Kroger). They have a sushi bar with a conveyer around it. The lunch special is $1.50 a plate (I think M-F, 11-2 == each plate is 1/2 a roll). They also have other lunch specials - binto boxes, hibachi, sushi plates, etc. as well as Early Bird specials (sushi 2 rolls for $8 and 3 for $12, last time I was there). I usualy go there for lunch at least once a week. I often see people w/ children around the hibachi tables. I am not sure they put on as much "show" as other places, but the food is excellent. I have heard their fried rice dishes described as "best in the city" by more than one person (including me, I think it might be the garlic butter that I think they use...). And if you tell them, they are very good about splitting the check...

Flint Luchtaine said...

Just for an update, Hibachi here on Kirby has been closed and is up for lease. A new owner took over not long after it opened, but apparently the business failed.

Stacey Greenberg said...

Thanks for the update, Flint!

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