Food Sam Hai cooks on the Hibachi at Samurai Sushi and Hibachi.

Sam Hai cooks on the Hibachi at Samurai Sushi and Hibachi.

Hibachi fun at Samuari

Published on January 24th, 2014 | by Laura Billingsley

Before dining at Samurai Sushi and Hibachi, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never been to a hibachi restaurant and felt somewhat intimidated by the up-close-and-personal cooking experience, communal tables and leaping flames. But my concerns were unnecessary, and hibachi dining is quite easy.

Diners can choose between the hibachi room and the regular dining area. The latter features tables and booths, and you can order hibachi entrees as well as sushi and various rice and noodle dishes from the kitchen. The hibachi room contains four pods with two grill stations each, with belly-up-to-the-bar-style seating around each grill (eight in all). My dining partner and I visited on a Saturday evening, and there wasn’t a wait for the hibachi room. We sat down to join a party of five on the other side of the table, but there was plenty of room and it didn’t feel awkward.

If you choose to dine in the hibachi room, you must order a hibachi entrée. However you can still order sushi and appetizers off the regular menu. We started with a shrimp tempura roll, and the pieces were very large – too big for one bite. But we enjoyed the warm, crispy shrimp and the sweet sauce drizzled on top.

Hibachi entrees come with a choice of soup or salad. We opted for salad, which turned out to be iceberg lettuce and one piece each of tomato and cucumber, topped with shaved carrot and a sweet miso dressing.

After the salad, we waited a while for the hibachi chef to appear. In the meantime, multiple tables around us celebrated birthdays, which included a staff member banging on a large gong. The birthday popularity likely stems from the free meal offered to the birthday person when dining with four or more.

Finally, it was time for the show. Our hibachi chef wheeled his cart to the grill and set out two small dishes for each of us—a spicy sauce and a creamy sauce for dipping. He spent some time flipping his spatulas in the air, then poured oil on the grill and applied a lighter, creating a huge flame. The heat warmed my cheeks, but since each grill is under a huge smoke hood, all the smoke and steam is kept safely away from diners.

Hibachi chicken at Samurai Sushi.

Hibachi chicken at Samurai Sushi.

The chef made fried rice on the grill, mixing egg, rice, butter and sauce, then he served it to each of us around the table. Next he threw on a bunch of veggies, including broccoli, carrot, mushrooms and onions. Last, the various meats were added, all sizzling on the grill. Diners received two pieces of shrimp in addition to their choice of meat. I ordered chicken, and my dining partner chose New York steak.

After cooking in a generous amount of soy sauce, the meat and veggies were added to our plates. Both the chicken and steak were well cooked, and the veggies were tender but not limp. I could have used less sauce.

One more thing to know: The hibachi dinners are huge. We each received more than enough rice, veggies and meat. It’s also not cheap, but you’re paying for the show as well as the food. If you’re looking to make an evening of it and enjoy something different, hibachi-style dining could be a fun option.

Samurai Sushi and Hibachi

Where: 7125 Mills Civic Pkwy., Suite 110, West Des Moines

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday

Info: 515-223-4888,

Our receipt

Shrimp tempura roll: $8

Hibachi chicken: $16

Hibachi New York steak: $18

Two Kirin bottled beers: $8

Total with tax and tip: $63.60

About the Author

Laura is contributor to Juice Magazine.

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