Husband and I went to Osaka Sushi Hibachi Steakhouse, which opened in Duluth in December, on a whim because many of the guests of the hotel he works for had recommended it. For those who are unfamiliar, hibachi, technically, is just a cooking device but has become synonymous in the States to describe the artistic flare of the food preparation. The chef is right there in front of you, cooking your food, and, if he’s good, entertaining you by doing tricks with the knives, spatulas, and food—although “tricks” seems like a childish word to use in this setting. It’s more like a Cirque du Soleil show, but with Asian food.
We were greeted by a friendly hostess and asked if we wanted to sit on the dining side or the hibachi side. We opted for the dining side because we were hungry and there was no wait; alternatively there was a 20 minute wait for the hibachi side. We didn’t make reservations, although according to some other reviews I’ve read it’s a good idea to do so for the hibachi side (but ask how many they can seat at one table before you reserve for a large group – you want to make sure your whole group can be together).
I can’t speak for the hibachi side of things – perhaps it’s a different motif. But on the dining room side it’s very hip and contemporary with modern decor and blue lights. The music was pop/dance music but I felt it clashed a bit with the dim, cool (blue) lighting – to me the physical atmosphere seemed more relaxing and calm than a backdrop for a rave. Anyway, The food is really the most important part of any restaurant. You may hate the art but if the food is good you’ll probably go back!
Ordering and Service
We were seated and given about 3 seconds flat before our server came and asked for our drink orders. Since they don’t have typical bar offerings (oh yes, did I forget to mention there is a bar in the dining room area?) we had to look at a menu before we figured out what we wanted. Prompt service is a plus in some cases, but personally I enjoy having a minute or so to get my jacket off, settle in for the long haul and perusing my options before having to make a decision. I always feel like I’m a burden when I can’t order the first time they ask.
Our server was extremely quiet and it was difficult to understand what she was saying at times. Maybe her English wasn’t so good, or it was the loud music, or she didn’t know the menu yet, or perhaps were were also talking too softly, but when we placed our drink orders we had to point to what we wanted—she couldn’t understand/hear what we were saying. It was the same when we placed the order for our food.
When we asked her for advice on which sake to try she was mildly helpful. She asked us if we wanted sweet or dry—since we’d never had sake before and didn’t know what sweet or dry meant this was less helpful than, “well usually first timers like X-Brand the best.” Since both our palettes started out sweet and have gotten drier over the years in regards to wine we figured it might be the same with sake so we asked for sweet. Then she was able to say “in that case I’d recommend X-Brand. Would you like to try it?”
The servers were very attentive—even those who were not “our” server stopped by to ask us how things were. For many people this is a great thing; for me it’s annoying and distracting. Sure, stop by the table once, maybe twice if we’re there for a really long time, but after that it’s just an interruption. How many times can a person say, “it’s great” and, “yep, it’s still great”?
It’s great! What more can I say? I ordered Chicken tempureh (basically fried chicken) and M ordered a sushi sampler plate.
On a side note, I’ve never really been able to understand people who say things like, “well the sushi at Such-A-Place is way better than the sushi at The-Other-One,” because as long as the fish has not gone bad, it’s going to taste exactly the same! The fish isn’t usually spiced or flavored with anything and neither is the rice. It’s always the same. Yellowtail is yellowtail and seaweed is seaweed!
Anyway, back to the food at Osaka. Um… right. It was delicious. I’ve never had chicken tempureh before and since we were at a new restaurant I decided to try a new dish too. I’m glad I did! The fried chicken was not oily or greasy and the breading was light, crispy and sweet. It also came with some veggetables (broccoli and sweet potato are the ones I remember) that had been fried in the same batter—SO GOOD!
The sushi was great – it’s sushi. Like I said before if you like sushi then, unless you want to sound pretentious, you will like sushi from anywhere (except of course if it’s gone off). There was one particular kind of fish on this sampler, though, that was exceptionally tasty. I’m not sure what it was but it had a very strong—I suppose you’d call it “fishy” flavor? I don’t know, it was like you could tell that this fish came from an ocean. Not like salmon or tuna, which don’t really taste like fish at all. I don’t know what this fish was, but the meat had some purple ‘stripes’ near one of the ends (you can see it on the left side of the picture above, next to the sushi roll pieces on the left side of the plate and another one 4 sushi pieces from the left in the middle row, just to the left of the sushi roll pieces on the right side of the plate – clear as mud?).
About $50 for the two of us, before tip. This includes 2 entrees, a beer, a cocktail and a 350ml bottle of sake. We were thrilled with that price! We would have spent the same amount at a place like Olive Garden or Red Lobster but we feel that we got way more food and experience out of it than we would have at one of those places.
GO!!! If you are in the Duluth area, definitely try this place out. If you plan to do the hibachi side, definitely make a reservation and make sure that everyone in your group can all fit at the same table. If you are just a couple of friends you’ll be put at a table with others that you may not know, but this is part of the fun! Hibachi is an interactive dining experience. The dining side was empty when we arrived, but filled up as the night went on. Reservations are probably not necessary for that side. The next time we go we will definitely be trying the hibachi side; the wall that separates the two sides has frosted glass windows in it and every time something cool and amazing would happen on the other side the window would light up with flame and we could hear everyone cheering. We should have waited the 20 minutes, but we had a great date night on the “calmer” side of things too.
Osaka Sushi & Hibachi Steakhouse
- Restaurant Review: Osaka~The New Hibachi Grill in Duluth, Minnesota (travelsincooking.wordpress.com)