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An employee at Mr. Hibachi in Athens, Ohio, slices salmon before rolling into sushi on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

Food Review: Mr. Hibachi is the best thing to come of 2022 so far

Calling all hibachi lovers: The time has come.

After walking down Court Street numerous times past where D.P. Dough once stood, it seemed like construction for the now-opened Mr. Hibachi ensued for forever. Obviously, a new establishment takes a while to open, but for fans of Japanese Steakhouse-style restaurants, the grand opening could not come soon enough. 

The opening of what will soon surely be a new Athens favorite is the best thing to come of 2022 thus far. 

Although many students believed the restaurant to be an actual sit-down enterprise with the full-blown hibachi cooking experience present versus the to-go style meals it actually offers, the latter is just what the Athens food scene needed. 

Mr. Hibachi offers an extensive menu of Japanese-style food, including appetizers, soups, salads, sushi rolls, sushi/sashimi, sushi/sashimi entree, special rolls, hibachi and Japanese-style fried rice. 

For those who are most anticipating ordering the hibachi-style meals on the menu, as they are the one item not available in Athens until now, there is a variety of combinations to choose from, such as hibachi vegetable, chicken, steak, shrimp and salmon or a combination of two different proteins, all of which are served with fried rice, zucchini, onion, broccoli and carrots. 

As a steak enthusiast, I am only able to speak on the hibachi steak meal. To cut to the chase, it was good — really good. 

Per request, the steak was cooked medium rare, tender and thick, which came as a surprise as I assumed the meat to be pre-prepared, similar to how the meat is at Chipotle and other food chains alike. Undoubtedly, this made the meal, which came in a styrofoam container, all the more fresh and authentic tasting. 

In regards to the vegetables, there could have been more present in comparison to the rice and steak portions. The vegetables enhanced the overall dish; however, they were nowhere near as delicious in terms of seasoning as they would be in a true hibachi sit down restaurant — but again, who would expect them to be? Mr. Hibachi is not that. 

Everyone knows a true hibachi meal is incomplete without a sauce to top it off, and for me, that sauce of choice was yum yum sauce. Truly, yum yum sauce is one of the greatest things this earth has to offer, and I will forever stand by that. 

However, I felt as Mr. Hibachi’s yum yum sauce was a little too sweet for what was expected to be a savory dish, but again, it still didn’t disappoint, as I had to ask for another yum yum container because one was simply not enough. If you like a sweeter sauce, though, in order to achieve a contrast of sweet and savory, you will undoubtedly love it. 

For anyone who has been to an actual Japanese Steakhouse-style restaurant, you know they often offer egg yolk sauce. It was a sauce I was at first hesitant to try, but I’m so glad I did, as it is salty, creamy and simply mouthwatering. If there is one thing I wish Mr. Hibachi offered, it's that (and bean sprouts). 

Overall, the hibachi meal itself is one I would definitely recommend to OU students and Athens locals, as it is a great portion size for either a lunch or dinner meal and will surely satisfy your hibachi cravings. 

Additionally, Mr. Hibachi also provides a wide array of different sushi rolls, all of which are unique and able to be tailored to all taste buds. I wish I had the stomach and appetite to try each and every one, but for now, I’ll stick to discussing what I know: the Salmon Lover roll. 

This roll was the perfect amount of crunchy and savory and was the ideal ratio of sauce to roll. For sushi gurus, Mr. Hibachi should definitely be on the list of places to try, as it blows Ginger’s sushi rolls out of the water. 

After taste-testing a few of Mr. Hibachi’s piquant menu items, the only one to disappoint was the clear soup. If it wasn’t evident already, I am a big fan of hibachi-style, sit-down restaurants, where they begin the experience by serving customers a Japanese style-soup and salad, and both are to die for. Naturally, I thought I would provide myself as similar of an experience as possible by ordering the clear soup. 

The clear soup was, frankly, not what I was expecting. I was under the impression it would be the type of soup with mushrooms and onion chunks in it, yet it consisted of a dark broth with another ingredient in it, which I am still unable to identify. It wasn’t bad but wasn’t what I was expecting, so keep that in mind when ordering. If you are about trying new foods, though, definitely give it a go. 

Athens is lucky to have Mr. Hibachi, as it is another food option among many when searching to satisfy your stomach’s needs. If you haven’t made a trip there already, make a note to try it as soon as possible, as it is undoubtedly going to turn into a Court Street hot spot as soon as everyone discovers the versatility within the menu and recognizes just how delicious it truly is. 

@emmadollenmayer 

ed569918@ohio.edu 

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