It’s Ted’s pick this week, which means that yet again we started out at one place but had our meal at another. I’m sensing a trend here.
Our first attempt this week was the HiHo Brewery in the new section of Front St in Cuyahoga Falls – which looked to have promise, as it’s in a great space (what appears to be an old garage, it seems?) with plenty of tables inside and a small patio space outside, and a decent list of handcrafted beers. However, the food list is smaller than what we could likely get at one of the food trucks we judged a few months ago. Like unless you want a cheese and meat tray or a giant soft pretzel – or a salad, because that’s what everyone craves when you’re sampling high potency beers, right? – you’re pretty much out of luck. They had one meal that looked somewhat appetizing (the pork sliders) but beyond that we were all at a loss.
So off we went. Ted didn’t even get to guzzle down a draft this time either.
His Plan B – because at least he knows he needs a second option nearby – was the hibachi place just down the street, relocated from another space a little further north on the same street. We hadn’t been to the old place, so we can’t judge based on the former property. And honestly the last time this group went to a hibachi restaurant together was years ago at Wasabi in Fairlawn, and of course since we were all starving (what!?! That’s new, right?) we didn’t want to wait for a cook table and instead just grabbed a regular table and ordered off the full menu instead of hibachi.
So in other words, this is a new experience for us as a group. If you’re keeping track, that’s four years of Wednesdays before we finally sat around a giant open grill and had someone prepare our food right in front of us. And, no, the open kitchen grill at that scary house in Solon that left us all smelling like a grease fire after only 10 minutes inside doesn’t count.
Hibachi Japan looks great inside, probably in part because it’s all new and shiny. And it’s ALL hibachi. Unless you want to sit in the bar and only order sushi, you have to sit at one of the cook tables. Each one seats 10, I think – although our group only ended up being the three of us, another group of three, and a late arriving pair of women. But we only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, so we weren’t complaining.
We found out later that we weren’t blessed with one of the more “fun” chefs, probably due to the fact that we had a smaller/mixed party, and also that none of us were celebrating birthdays. I guess this must be the new Wednesday celebratory hot spot, because I swear we heard no less than four iterations of that song from other tables in the few hours we were there. Just a warning to be prepared for that. And as hard as Ted to convince Shane that he SHOULD be celebrating a birthday this week, unfortunately no servers were summoned to our table for round number five. Nice try.
It goes without saying that we all got the hibachi. I mean, you don’t sit at a giant stovetop where a person is going to freshly grill up meats of various kinds for you and just eat sushi or miso soup, right? Exactly. Ted got the salmon, chicken for me, and steak and scallops for Shane. The meal also comes with soup and a salad to start, and then pineapple sorbet and a fortune cookie at the end. Not a bad haul for about $15-$25 per person.
I should also mention that, according to the menu, there was supposedly something called a “shrimp appetizer” that came with the meal … although we never actually saw that at our table. Which is probably good, seeing as Shane is allergic. And if they did sneak it in somehow then I guess the fact that he’s not dead yet means he’s somehow cleared of that condition? Hmm.
The soup must’ve been cooked in a previously unearthed lava pit near the property, because it arrived with steam pouring out of each little bowl. Mmm, taste bud killer soup. My favorite. But honesty after about 3-4 minutes it wasn’t so awful to try and eat. I think our last few weeks of fried appetizers did more damage to both my tongue and my fingertips. Or maybe they killed them off all together at this point. Hard to say.
Shane claimed the salad was the “best salad he’s ever had.” Now, he was also really hungry, so I’m not sure how much stock you want to put into that claim. I thought it was pretty much just a small bowl of ready-salad mix poured from a bag with dressing on it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the flavor of … but I guess when you want to eat your arm off that’s extremely tasty.
As mentioned, we didn’t have one of the loud chefs that yell and swing knives inches from your face, but he cooked our food well and really that’s what matters. Although he might want to think about speaking up a bit as he does his little show of announcing the different items he seasons each dish with, as I couldn’t hear half of what he said, so in my mind just started considering everything soy sauce and pepper. Staples of a Japanese meal, no?
But, like I said, it all got cooked and was tasty, so who am I to really complain? I don’t need ninja warrior guard wielding a sharp knife all up in my face to enjoy a meal. Just make sure my chicken isn’t questionable and won’t come back to haunt me later, please and thank you.
See also, why I politely declined when the chef was looking for volunteers in his little “let me throw food at your face while you can wave around like a baby seal trying to catch it” game. Um, no thanks. I mean, that piece of shrimp launched at my face with a knife and spatula directly from a hot grill isn’t going to quench my appetite, thanks. I’ll just enjoy the food you already put on my plate.
There were a few takers, though. I think Shane was slightly disappointed he couldn’t try … but the guy was throwing around shrimp and there’s that whole lethal allergy thing. Ted tried and failed on more than one occasion. The girl at our table with the other party of three finally caught one. So it was pretty much one catch for like 10 attempts at our table. Clearly we’re gifted.
Speaking of allergies, the pair of ladies next to us (who ended up being a woman with her grown niece) bonded with our group – and in particular, me, since I was seated closest to them – after hearing of Shane’s affliction, since they said they are usually the ones at the table who have to give up that information. But I’m glad we made friends with them, as they are apparently regulars at this place. They gave us all the insider info: which chefs to ask for, how to get the optimal amount of food to take home for another meal, which drinks to order, etc.
I would share those tips here, but I kind of feel like you have to take your chances that you might sit next to these two on a random evening there and they can tell you themselves. Me telling you would ruin the fun. And trust me, a seat next to them is worthwhile, as they are hilarious.
I will share one tip, however … the yum yum sauce is the absolute bomb. If you take nothing away from this week’s post, it’s that if you go there you have to get two sides of this. And a to-go container to take home. I didn’t even have to order mine, since my new friend spoke up and got one for me when she ordered her own. New friends are amazing like that.
You may be familiar with this sauce (I’ve since spotted it at a grocery store, thus bursting my bubble that this was purely the restaurant’s own creation) but trying it at Hibachi was a first for me and Shane. If you’re out of the loop like us, it’s basically a mayo based sauce with a bit of a kick. And it’s delicious. As my new friend told me, she “puts that shit on everything.” I wonder if Red Hot would be proud she used their slogan?
Also of note: the pineapple sorbet that they serve at the end of the meal is definitely worth leaving some room in your belly for. It wasn’t too sugary sweet or overly fruity, but it was enough to give that little dessert touch to end the meal. I mean, it was no trip to the frozen yogurt place in Kent where the guys each made themselves three pound sundaes or anything like that, but it was definitely worth sticking around for after the to-go boxes were passed out.
I admit that this week it was nice to get away from the bar and grill train we’d been stuck on for a little bit now, and to try something different. The food was good, although my one gripe would be that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat in my meal. Next time I would go with a combination, like the chicken and shrimp or chicken and steak or something like that. What I boxed up to take home amounted to little more than basically fried rice and a few veggies, which won’t exactly make for an exciting leftover lunch.
It should be noted that Shane and Ted both finished their meals entirely, but Shane was incredibly uncomfortable on the drive home.
I definitely see us going back, although probably more for a celebration, special occasion of some sort, or maybe to take people from out of town or something like that. I don’t see it becoming a regular stop, either in our eating out mainstays or the WTGW order … unless, that is, we decide we want to give our new bffs some competition as regulars? That could prove to be an interesting endeavor. I’m not sure there’s enough yum yum sauce for that experience.
Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane