Food fads of the ’70s included shake ’n’ bake, fondue and cooking on a portable hibachi grill.
At the recently opened Hibachi Grill and Noodle Bar in Brickell (and the original location in downtown Miami), large teppanyaki griddles are used to grill meats, seafood and vegetables, while noodles and rice are stir-fried in woks.
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You order at the counter, and your food is brought to the table. The red and white wallpaper spells out “thank you” in Japanese (arigato), Thai (kob kun mak) and Malay (terima kasih).
Owner Adel Abu Nassar grew up in Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait, a constitutional emirate on the tip of the Persian Gulf between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Many Indians, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and other Asians work in construction and brought their food to Kuwait, where it is very popular.
Abu Nassar came to Miami to attend St. Thomas University, where he studied business and marketing, then lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he was an electronics importer and exporter.
In 2008 he returned to Miami for open-heart surgery and while recuperating started cooking and opened a Mediterranean cafe in North Carolina. He sold it and came back to Miami, where he opened his first Hibachi in 2011 after coming up with the fast-casual Asian concept and helping design the place (plans for two more are in the works).
The food here is clean with tender-crisp, well-seasoned vegetables, although Sriracha sauce is on every table. Ground chicken is mixed with water chestnuts, garlic and scallions for wrapping in iceberg lettuce leaves, making a good starter. So are steamed or fried chicken gyoza and shrimp shumai dumplings.
Thai vermicelli salad tosses the skinny noodles with mixed greens, carrots and cilantro in peanut dressing. Or get the version with sesame dressing and wonton chips.
Hibachi express is the grilled section of the menu with teriyaki and orange chicken, Mongolian beef, snapper, salmon, spicy mango shrimp (with chunks of mango) and steak, plus various surf-and-turf combos, all plated with brown or white rice and grilled onions and zucchini.
Pad Thai is tart with tamarind and tossed with bits of beaten egg, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts, garnished with cilantro and a lime wedge.
Other noodle dishes include yakisoba (fried egg noodles); bean thread noodles with snow peas, peppers, carrots and egg; and Singapore vermicelli with veggies and curry powder.
Build your own noodle soup with a choice noodle and protein plus vegetables to add to broth.
From the wok comes beef and broccoli in oyster sauce; almond and cashew chicken; and spicy kung pao chicken with chiles, celery and peanuts. Basil fried rice is fragrant and chock-full of vegetables in house sauce.
Light, puffy Thai doughnuts with condensed milk hit the sweet spot.