Have you ever heard of Chinese restaurants that cook in front of you? These are Chinese restaurants where the chefs cook your meal right in front of you, and it’s become a mainstay of many American cities.
Table of Contents
- Is Japanese food different from Chinese?
- What is Teppanyaki & Hibachi?
- Where is Teppanyaki & Hibachi coming from?
- Different Japanese Cuisines
- Best Teppanyaki-Hibachi Restaurants You Should Try
- Choosing the Right Restaurants for You
In China and Japan, there’s a similar type of restaurant called a hot pot place. The difference between these two is that in Japan when they’re cooking right in front of you, you’re eating at a table with just your family or friends at the dinner. In China, you sit around a big pot with people from all over the room and make new friends.
So, before searching for restaurants where they cook in front of you, let’s find out something interesting about these locals and their origins.
Is Japanese food different from Chinese?
We’ve all been there. It’s a Friday night, and you’re in the mood for some delicious food. But what? Chinese or Japanese cuisine? And then you think about that one Japanese restaurant where they serve you at your table, but then you remember the time you went to the one where they cook it in front of you and then realized you had no idea what to do with your chopsticks.
Fear not! We’ve got you covered. There are several differences between Chinese and Japanese food, but here are a few ways to help you understand them:
- If you’re looking for something with noodles and rice, definitely go with Chinese (or, if it has to be noodles, go with ramen).
- If it’s vegetables you’re craving, go with Japanese—their vegetable meals are really fresh and delicious.
- If sushi is your thing, go with Japanese—you’ll find a lot more variety in sushi locals than in Chinese ones.
What is Teppanyaki & Hibachi?
So, you’ve heard of Teppanyaki and Hibachi, but do you really know what the difference is? Or how they’re similar? That’s why we’re here. To break down Teppanyaki and Hibachi so that you can decide which Japanese-style cooking experience is right for you.
Let’s start with Teppanyaki.
As a Japanese cuisine, teppanyaki grilling involves the use of an iron griddle to cook food. Teppanyaki chefs are trained to flip your meal like a pro and make sure you get the freshest meals possible. The word teppanyaki can be broken down into two parts: teppan (flat iron surface) and yaki (grilled, broiled, or pan-fried). In this style of cooking, meats and vegetables are cooked using a large iron plate that sits at the center of the table. This style of cooking has been around since 1945 and was originally developed as a way to prepare fresh ingredients for post-war Japan. Hibachi is a bit different from food teppanyaki-style because it refers to charcoal grill cooking versus iron griddle cooking. Hibachi means literally a fire bowl. Since hibachi grilling restaurants usually use open-faced grills, you may end up being engulfed in a rather huge puff of smoke.
What is the difference between teppanyaki and hibachi cooking?
On the surface, Teppanyaki and Hibachi are very similar. Both are styles of Japanese cooking that involve a grill (the “hibachi” which is used for both), and both involve cooking in front of diners. So what’s the difference between hibachi grilling restaurants and Teppanyaki grilling restaurants?
First, let’s talk about the setup. In a traditional hibachi restaurant, you’ll be seated around a grill where meals are cooked in single servings. Hibachi grills are called shichirin in Japanese and are small, portable barbecue grills that are made from cast iron. The chef uses a variety of kitchen tools such as spatulas and knives to prepare your meal on the grill, which can be done in either a Western or Japanese style using techniques like hibachi grilling and slicing respectively.
Teppanyaki chefs do not offer this same personal experience while the teppanyaki grill process is starting. Instead, they use a large steel hot plate to cook meals for groups of people all at once. Teppanyaki grills typically use a propane flame as a heat source. The chef uses the same types of kitchen tools as the hibachi restaurant chef but their meal preparation is more focused on entertainment than technique, often involving tricks such as flipping vegetables into their hats or juggling tools.
Both styles of cooking can be found in Japan and the United States, though many teppanyaki restaurants specialize in one or the other depending on their preference for style and presentation.
Where is Teppanyaki & Hibachi coming from?
It all started with the early inhabitants of Japan. They were known for their hearty dishes, but until recently historians didn’t know much about them. The history of the hibachi grill is thought to date back to the Heian period, which existed between 794 and 1185 AD. Archaeologists have found evidence that these people cooked their fresh ingredients over an open pit filled with lava rocks in order to keep it warm. These early Japanese would gather around the fire with their neighbors and enjoy meals together as they discussed important topics such as hunting or fishing techniques used by other tribes along Japan’s coastlines.
Different Japanese Cuisines
Cooking in front of customers isn’t just for so called hibachi restaurants. You might have gone to a Japanese hibachi restaurant before and enjoyed watching the chef cook your meal right in front of you. You might even have tried some Chinese stir-fry places that prepare the dish right at your table. But did you know there are plenty of other styles of restaurants that do this?
Ramen is the kind of comfort meal we all need while visiting a teppanyaki restaurant. But have you ever wondered about its origins? Where did it come from? What does the word even mean?
Ramen is a dish of Chinese origin, though it gained popularity in Japan in the early 20th century. It’s made with wheat noodles served in a broth with meat and optional fresh vegetables.
The word “ramen” comes from the Chinese word for “hand-pulled noodles.” The dish has many variations and toppings, but a key ingredient of most ramen dishes is kansui, which is alkaline mineral water that gives ramen its yellowish hue and chewy texture.
As we mentioned earlier, ramen was invented in China, but it became popular in Japan after World War II. This was partly because ingredients were scarce—you could make ramen with anything! And partly because Japanese soldiers brought back their love for the dish after fighting overseas. Soon enough, Japanese families were enjoying this delicious noodle soup as part of their regular diet, be it dinner or lunch.
Yakitori is a classic Japanese dish of skewered, grilled meat. The name “yakitori” refers to the process of grilling meat over a fire, but it’s also become synonymous with the dish itself. This dish is a staple in all kinds of Japanese cuisine you can find at a teppanyaki restaurant, and can be served at any meal—including breakfast!
You can see yakitori being prepared all over Japan—it’s often cooked on-site at the restaurants which serve it. To make this dish, meat is cut into small chunks, marinated in a sweet soy sauce mixture, and then skewered. It’s then placed onto skewers and cooked over coals burnt at hot temperature. The resulting taste is salty and tangy with just a hint of sweetness from the soy sauce marinade.
Yakitori tastes like grilled chicken with a tangy flavor from its soy sauce marinade. It’s not too sweet, so you can eat it as an appetizer before your meal or have it for lunch by itself. Yakitori is sometimes served with vegetables such as corn or peppers on top of rice.
Tonkatsu is a dish from Japanese cuisine made from pork cutlets that have been breaded and deep-fried. Usually, they are served with a sweet sauce, thinly sliced cabbage, and miso soup. They can be served as an entrée or as a topping for other foods, such as omelets or ramen. You may also see them served in rice bowls or in sandwiches.
Tonkatsu originated in Japan in the early 1900s and was a new take on European-style pork cutlets that were popular at the time. It is considered to be part of yōshoku cuisine, which refers to Japanese versions of Western food that were introduced during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Since then, tonkatsu has become one of the most popular meats in Japan.
Sushi is thought to have originated around the 8th century as a method of preserving fish by fermenting it in rice. This fermented rice would be discarded before consuming the fish. In 1824, Hanaya Yohei created the nigirizushi: an early form of fast food consisting of seafood on top of an oblong mound of rice. It wasn’t until 1910 that the modern version of sushi—vinegar-seasoned rice with other ingredients—appeared in Tokyo.
The word “sushi” literally means sour-tasting—a reference to the rice vinegar used in the dish. The Japanese writing for sushi is an ideogram: a picture that represents a concept or idea rather than an actual object. This ideogram is made up of two parts: one meaning “it” and one meaning “rice.” So technically, when you say “sushi,” you’re saying “it’s rice.”
Shabu-Shabu is a traditional Japanese dish that was invented in the 1950s by a man named Shigeyoshi Ikeno. He had been experimenting with different ways to serve beef, and he eventually came up with the idea of serving it raw and allowing diners to cook it at their table by dipping it in a hot pot of broth.
It’s super easy to make! The name literally means “swish-swish,” because you swish your beef around in the pot before you eat it, then swish it in your mouth to cool it off. The broth is actually served separately and is just used for cooking, so if you don’t like spicy food, be sure to choose a milder one.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake, or an Asian pizza, as Japanese people describe it. It’s made from batter, cabbage, and a protein of your choosing—the name literally translates to “grilled as you like it.” The two most common ways to eat okonomiyaki are with bacon or seafood (scallops, shrimp) mixed into the batter, but you can really use any combination of ingredients that you like!
Best Teppanyaki-Hibachi Restaurants You Should Try
So if you love gourmet cuisine and Chinese food cooked in front of you, check out these Japanese restaurants that prepare your meal right in front of your eyes:
What do you think of when you hear the words “Japanese restaurant”? If your first response is something along the lines of “sushi” or “hibachi,” it’s time to take a trip to Benihana! Benihana cooks are perfect for a family dinner. This popular, nationwide chain of hibachi restaurants is known for its lively hibachi grills, where chefs entertain you by cooking your meal right in front of your eyes. The first restaurant was opened in New York in 1964.
Sure, the meals are good – but the atmosphere is what makes the Gyu Kaku dining experience truly memorable because they prepare food in front of you. Benihana restaurant chain is decorated in a Japanese cultural style, with Japanese artwork on the walls and details like a fish pond with live koi. The tables are low to the ground and covered with traditional Japanese tablecloths, so you’re sitting cross-legged while watching your steak being cooked on a grill that’s only a few feet away from you.
The prices are what you’d expect at any middle-of-the-road restaurant: around $15 per entree. But when the experience is this unique, is price really an object?
Ginza Sumikawa is a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant with just enough room for 12 guests—eight at the bar, four at a table in the back. They serve everything from sushi to tempura and other home-style dishes, and it’s all delicious (even if you don’t think you like raw fish). The prices are reasonable for such an upscale spot (they’re known for having one of the best chefs in Tokyo), especially considering how intimate and hard-to-get a reservation is.
Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi
The food in this sushi restaurant is fresh and delicious, and the service is excellent, not just because they cook in front of you. Each time people come to this sushi bar chain restaurant, they serve them a different selection of appetizers, and they always get the orders right. The prices are very reasonable—about $20-30 per person—with a good variety of options to choose from. The atmosphere is inviting and cozy enough that you feel like you’re at home with your family. The servers are very friendly and make sure to greet you as soon as you walk through the door, which makes this Japanese restaurant chain stand out among others in Los Angeles.
Don’s Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar
Don’s Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar is located in the heart of the Financial District of San Francisco, just a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of bustling Manhattan. Get ready to see a high-quality Asian restaurant with fusion cuisine.
From the moment you walk through the door, you are greeted by friendly and attentive staff members who are ready to assist you with your dining experience. With modern decor and a comfortable atmosphere, you will be able to relax and enjoy your meal while sipping on a glass of wine. They serve dishes rapidly and their own food is perfectly prepared.
The menu at Don’s Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar is full of delicious foods that are sure to please any palate. The menu features traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi and kimchi along with more modern creations like Korean fried chicken and kalbi beef sliders.
New York Sushi Ko
The atmosphere is lively, the prices are reasonable, and the food is… well, let’s just say it leaves something to be desired, just as most Japanese restaurants.
The waitstaff is pretty friendly, but things may get chaotic quickly. The New York Sushi Ko restaurant is full of families with young children and a lot of them seemed to be happy with their experience. The atmosphere is perfect for those who love such a restaurant and want to taste it all for them for $15.
Choosing the Right Restaurants for You
Making the decision to eat at a food place where they cook in front of you is not one you should take lightly. Choosing between Japanese restaurants or Hibachi restaurants may be challenging for you. For example, visiting a Korean Hibachi Restaurant for a hibachi steak would be definitely an unforgettable experience.
Before you sit down and order up new food, here are a few important questions to ask yourself:
1) How comfortable am I with people cooking in front of me?
2) Am I open to trying new things that have been cooked right before my eyes?
3) Can I handle the fact that everyone will know exactly what I ordered?
If you answered “yes” to all three, then you’re ready for a dining experience unlike any other!
If you answered “yes” to all three, then you’re ready for a dining experience unlike any other! If not, we recommend you to visit Topos 403. It is a family restaurant and event venue that offers delicious meals, with a strong focus on seafood, Italian and French notes.
They cater to corporate events, social occasions, weddings, and other large gatherings. Topos 403 can help you plan the perfect party for your special occasion. The Topos Bloomington comfy atmosphere will definitely surprise you at the door.
Topo’s 403 full event planning and management team will work with you to ensure that your celebration goes off without a hitch. They also offer full catering kitchen services if you would rather just let them do all of the work!