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It's Showtime at Samurai

The Japanese hibachi restaurant is more about the entertainment than the food.

On a busy Saturday night recently a party of six of us went to which opened on the corner of Gerard and Green streets in November 2007. We had only reserved for five but they quickly accommodated us despite a line.

We waited for a moment or two at the long, blue-lit bar adjacent to the soothing sounds of falling water from the nearby stone wall. While there, we enjoyed a Kirin Hibichi ($5), as well as a Green Tea martini made with Absolut vodka, Zen green tea, triple sec, and a splash of lime juice ($11).

The large open restaurant holds 12 hibachi tables that each seat more than 10 guests, meaning you usually sit with people who you don't know. That is generally fine because the set-up of the tables, as well as the rather noisy restaurant, doesn't allow for much intimate conversation anyway. The center of the table is a metal grill and the seating area wraps around the edges of the cooking surface, so you have a great view as the chef cooks. Half of our party was made up of children under the age of 14 and they quite enjoyed the banter with guests from other parties.

The restaurant does have a kitchen menu with soups and salads and some appetizers as well as teriyaki and tempura dishes. It also has a small sushi bar.

We ordered edamame, lightly salted soybeans ($5) and the pan-fried port dumplings ($7) from the kitchen, which were both nicely cooked.

The hibachi menu offers chicken, shellfish and beef as well as several combinations of those. All of the hibachi entrees come with a two-piece shrimp appetizer, onion soup, a salad with orange ginger dressing and white rice.

We ordered shrimp, chicken, scallops and beef ranging in price from $14 for vegetable hibachi to $48 for the so-called Emperor. That is a combination of cold-water lobster, filet mignon, chicken and shrimp.

All of the meat was moist and flavorful, as were the rice and vegetables.

For drinks at the table, we ordered a Kirakucho Junmai Ginjo sake ($45), which was very dry and slightly bitter as advertised, and Japanese Ramune soda ($3.50) in a glass bottle that is sealed with a marble. To open the bottle, a device to push the marble inward is provided with the bottle. The marble is pushed inside the neck of the bottle where it rattles around while drinking, which the kids found very entertaining.

But not half as entertaining as our hibachi chef, Kenny, in his white coat and black toque. He performed many tricks for them such as flinging pieces of vegetable into our mouths; creating fire with flames that touched the ceiling; and tossing up a raw egg before catching it on his head or on his spatula.

I highly recommend Samurai Hibachi for a fun time and good food. The owners of Samurai also own Tomo Hibachi Japanese Sushi & Steak House located on Main Street.

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