What Is a Hibachi Restaurant?

Hibachi is a style of Japanese cooking where foods are prepared over a hot open grill. Hibachi-style restaurants use this cooking technique and turn it into an interactive culinary experience for restaurant-goers. Not to be confused with teppanyaki, although they both originated in Japan, hibachi chefs cook everything on the griddle right in front of you. In teppanyaki cooking, other forms of cooking and preparation may be used as well to prepare the teppan food.


The foods prepared at a hibachi restaurant range from meats, such as poultry, fish, shrimp, beef and pork to veggies, as well as noodles and rice. The meals are made to order and customized based on what the diner desires. This type of Japanese cuisine has a barbeque taste combined with Japanese spices and dressings.


Diners sit around the large hibachi grill. A hibachi chef is assigned to each table, or station, and has all of the tools and ingredients necessary to prepare the meals. Each guest orders a meal and gets to select their meat, vegetables, rice or noodles. They can tell the hibachi chef how spicy or mild they make their food. Vegetarian options are available for people with limited diets. Common dishes include fried rice, fire bowls, and teriyaki bowls and dishes usually include soy sauce or yum yum sauce on top.


Hibachi chefs at these Japanese restaurants stir-fry the meals on the hibachi grill in front of guests. Since guests are watching, hibachi chefs put on entertaining performances, such as throwing the food around, twirling their cooking tools and getting their audiences to participate. These chefs have impeccable knife skills and perform tricks with open flames and using the hot plates and high heat to entertain guests. The heat source makes this a dangerous job, so these chefs must be very well trained on how to use the iron griddle or iron plate without hurting themselves on the heating device. The performance ends once everyone at the hibachi table has received their orders.


When dining in a hibachi restaurant, it is good form to tip the hibachi chefs for their talented performances. This form of Japanese grilling is a form of Japanese culture and this style of cooking should be celebrated and appreciated. Japanese chefs and Japanese food has had a wide cultural influence with these Japanese-style restaurants becoming very popular in the U.S. One of the most popular chains is Benihana.