Let’s face it. Hibachi joints have become a cliché. These strip-mall fixtures, with their round-robin seating, lamely punning chefs, and overpriced fish dishes have really overstayed their welcome, right?
Most of them? Maybe so. But Tokyo Samurai Hibachi Sushi & Bar, an out-of-this-world restaurant tucked away in Colleyville, serves as an exception. You could spend hours in this tony establishment, and you’d still be hard pressed to find a flaw.
Service? Impeccable. Atmosphere? Intimately lit and arranged. (Somebody clearly put some money into this place.) Just brace your ears for some sappy Japanese pop music. Value? Prepare to spend some dollars, but understand that you’ll be getting a nice chunk of high-quality calories in return. Food? Um, what’s the word? Epicurean! Yup.
Walking in, the first thing to decide is whether you’re after sushi or hibachi. (You won’t need to sit at the grill if you’re ordering only sushi.) About two hours before the Friday dinner rush, my date and I had the place virtually to ourselves, so we pulled up to an empty hibachi grill and were a little surprised by some of the prices. Don’t expect to sit on the hibachi side and get away for less than $25 per person. The sushi prices, surprisingly enough, were much more affordable, so for an appetizer we opted for a sampler of raw fish.
[pullquote_right]Food? Um, what’s the word? Epicurean! Yup. [/pullquote_right]It arrived promptly, thanks to the blazingly fast, attentive, and friendly service. Presentation was nothing fancy, just cuts of fish — shrimp, fatty salmon, snapper, regular salmon, and tuna — on steamed white rice. All were fresh and flavorful, but the fatty salmon packed the biggest salt-of-the-sea punch. It swam right down my gullet.
Next came the salads: crisp, fresh, and smothered in an aromatic and tongue-tingling ginger dressing. As our charming waiter explained, the dressing is particularly good for warming bellies on cold nights. It was May-in-Texas warm, but nobody spontaneously combusted. The other warmup that comes with hibachi dishes is miso soup, which was the single shortcoming. The soup wasn’t terrible, but it was mostly just watery, flavorless stock with few crunchy goodies.
Soon our chef stomped up to the grill wheeling a tray full of fixings and a head full of charmingly bad puns. Among his raw ingredients were two enormous calamari patties for me and a medley of veggies for the lady (who must surrender half to me — you know, for research). He began by dumping a wad of rice the size of a football on the grill. Turns out that extra $2 for fried rice more than doubles the size of the rice offering that comes with these dishes.
And thus began the performance part of the evening. Not only did we get the standards, like the flaming onion volcanoes, but we were also barraged with, as promised, shameless puns.
“Japanese eggroll!” the chef roared, rolling two uncracked eggs across the grill.
“Japanese butterfly,” he continued, tossing a wad of butter onto the rice and appetizer shrimp that also come with hibachi dishes.
But, seriously, there was nothing funny about those shrimp. They were divine: crunchy, zesty, and coated with a warm layer of butter. Fantastic. So, too, was the fried rice that soon landed on my plate as the chef turned his attention to the entrées.
Both absolutely stunned. The calamari was nicely singed and coated in a smooth layer of butter. The squid retained its fishy flavor, and it was difficult to put down the chopsticks to give my gut a respite.
The veggie medley also held its own. Variety is the selling point here, with 10 kinds of plants included. The shiitake mushrooms were good and chewy, and the water chestnuts delivered on their addictive crunchiness. Add baby corn, asparagus, and broccoli, and you’ve got a formula to satisfy every vegetarian.
You’ll need a to-go box, especially if you splurge for the fried rice, a meal in itself.
Tokyo Samurai Hibachi Sushi & Bar
5645 Colleyville Blvd, Ste 100, Colleyville. 817-281-8999. Noon-9:30pm Sun; 11am-2:30pm (lunch) and 5-10pm (dinner) Mon-Thu; 11am-2:30pm (lunch) and 5-11pm (dinner) Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Sushi sampler ……………….. $9.00
Hibachi veggie dinner ……. $12.00
Hibachi calamari dinner (plus $1.95 fried rice) … $19.95