hibachi teppanyaki is a social affair. At least in the suburbs of Richmond, but I’d wager it is the same from sea to shining sea. The concept is simple. Sit down with your party and a handful of strangers and watch a skilled chef perform as he cooks. To the first time visitor it can be a magical display of flying food and spinning utensils. To the jaded diner it tends to be just one more onion volcano on the path to great food.
Kenji is the latest in a handful of West End meets Far East sushi and steak joints. We were directed there for the sushi, but ended getting the hibachi…I mean…dammit, you know what I mean. Going at lunch was awkward. The place was nearly empty (not uncommon for lunch), but being a two man crew we were placed at a table with a group of four. A dance of half whispered conversations and strange seating arrangements ensued.
Eventually the arrival of the chef and the sounds of sizzling food helped though. Ours (the chef) was quite skilled. What he lacked in jokes about “Japanese ketchup” (that one slays me), he made up for in brain dizzying culinary acrobatics. Ethan even had to confirm where a salt shaker had disappeared to at one point. His hat if you must know. The dude had talent.
The food was standard for hibachi places. Soup to start and then protein, veggies and rice. The taste was par for the course. Not a slight against them mind you. I liked it as much as any other hibachi, which is to say a lot. The service was good, the decor was upscale and modern and we had a killer chef. Assuming all of their chefs are just as skilled, I’d give it a big thumbs up.