Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: Mr. Hibachi Downtown

Say what you will about the pandemic, it’s been a good year for Downtown hibachi fans. First, GENJIGO opened with its clean, laid-back hibachi fare on Gay Street. Then in August, Mr. Hibachi debuted on Third Street with a slightly more extensive menu, but one that still leverages the fast-casual concept. The time has come for Hibachi without the theatrical element: just food, please.

It is a marketable niche. Although the custom stunts and flying food in Hibachi’s joints are truly impressive, it would be inconvenient to put on a repeated show at the table like a lunchtime regular. Replays kill the magic. Focusing more narrowly on the edible part of hibachi catering, it’s a whole different story. You can enjoy hibachi grilled meat and vegetables regularly: once a week, maybe every day. Casual hibachi joints answer that call.

As with any hibachi joint, there will be decisions to be made. The fundamental choice is the type of meat you want. To choose Salmon ($12.99). First, because it’s good: Mr. Hibachi’s elegant caramelized fillet is seasoned, grilled and offers a velvety fish flesh that goes perfectly with the rest of hibachi cuisine. The second reason to choose salmon is that it’s not the typical steak-chicken-shrimp option commonly seen at hibachi restaurants, or fast food places in general.

Hibachi Salmon with Broccoli

That said, the Steak ($11.99) is respectable, the pieces are tender and share the same salty accent that sets hibachi dishes apart.

Hibachi steak with sprouts and zucchini

As for something like Chicken ($9.99) is fine, but the grilled bits are otherwise mundane and you’ll think: I could have ordered the salmon.

Hibachi Chicken with Carrots and Mushrooms

Once the fundamental decisions have been made, there will be more choices to be made. All hibachi meals are usually accompanied by fried rice and sautéed cabbage, the latter intended to vary the pleasures. Chances are you want a little more variety, though, in the veggie aisle. Choices are fresh cut broccoli, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms and onions. In the end, each can be competently skipped and each adds around $1.50 to your existing order. It’s not a free-for-all in the veggie department, so choose deliberately. If you like nutrient density, broccoli is probably the best choice. That said, zucchini and sprouts are both magical with the hibachi treat. So maybe get them too.

Traditional ginger and yum-yum sauces top it all off. For variety, consider the Dynamic Home egg yolk sauce ($2.99). It has the heavy, luxurious richness of another famous egg yolk sauce: mayonnaise. Mr. Hibachi gives a mesh finish to add a little edge. Sauces, other than a bechamel over something like moussaka, don’t usually get that kind of careful treatment.

Egg yolk sauce

Beyond the hibachi scene, there’s a modest selection of traditional fun fried appetizers to complement the meal. the spring rolls ($4.99) are supposed to be homemade, and their cool, crackling shells are a testament to that claim.

Spring rolls

Mr. Hibachi is located at 250 N. Third St. It’s closed on Sundays, but open 10:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week for lunch and dinner. Downtown is the third Mr. Hibachi in Central Ohio, with additional spots on Cleveland Avenue and Powell.

For more information, visit mrhibachidowntown.com.

All photos by Susan Post


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