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Hibachi restaurants

A dramatic display from Hoshi's hibachi chef. (Sept.

(Credit: Heather Walsh)

Ever think about catching a flying piece of zucchini in your open mouth? Lately, it seems, Long Islanders can't get enough of airborne vegetables, clanging knives and dinner theater at griddle-topped tables. Right now, there are more than 20 hibachi restaurants - and counting.

The genre (more accurately known as teppanyaki) was born in postwar Japan, where it made sparks with the tourist trade. During the early 1960s, with the Manhattan debut of Benihana of Tokyo, tabletop pyrotechnics caught fire in America. Today's "hibachi" palaces are the darlings of the tweener set and their younger siblings. OK, their parents, too. Fancy theatrics plus simple food add up to a booming business.

No matter what hibachi restaurant you go to, you'll be sure to find at least half of the following routines and gimmicks:

Knife tricks: Fancy cutting of shrimp or vegetables; also juggling, clanging and tossing
Big fire: Shooting flames
Onion volcano: Onion slices are stacked; vodka poured inside and set aflame.
Pee-pee boy: Rubber squirt toy puts out fire of onion volcano.
Egg tricks: Tossing and cracking, usually while making fried rice.
Beating heart: Fried rice is formed into heart shape, spatula inserted underneath makes it appear to "beat."
Food toss: Usually vegetables, flung into the mouths of audience members (or into chef's hat or pocket)

--Compiled by Joan Reminick

  • A habachi chef shows his skills at Benihana

    Benihana (Manhasset) Cooking, Japanese, Sushi 2105 Northern Blvd. Manhasset Dinner at this hibachi restaurant starts with savory onion soup followed by a salad and ...

  • A hibachi chef shows his skills at Benihana

    Benihana (Westbury) Cooking, Japanese 920 Merchants Concourse Westbury A casual restaurant that serves hibachi and Japanese food. ...

  • Gasho of Japan $$$ | Japanese 356 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy. Hauppauge Housed in a replica of a medieval Japanese farmhouse, this restaurant (part of a metro ...

  • Critic rating 2
    Hoshi Sushi & Hibachi restaurant in Patchogue. (Sept.

    Hoshi Sushi & Hibachi $$ | Sushi, Japanese 35 W. Main St. Patchogue An offshoot of Hoshi Sushi in Stony Brook, Hoshi Sushi & Hibachi is a glitzy ...

  • Critic rating 2
    Mike our chef was DYNAMITE . Food was

    Hotoke $$$ | Asian fusion, Steak, Japanese 41 Rte. 111 Smithtown The restaurant, basically a big storefront in a shopping center, arrives via two tracks: hibachi ...

  • Critic rating 2.5
    Kashi Sushi and Steakhouse in Rockville Centre. (Aug.

    Kashi Sushi & Steakhouse Sushi, Japanese 222 Sunrise Hwy. Rockville Centre At Kashi Sushi & Steakhouse, you'll dine in a sleek, colorful, glittery setting, with a ...

  • Kirin Hibachi $$$ | Japanese 556-22 N. Country Rd. St. James Flames shoot up with a whoosh at this St. James restaurant where the communal hibachi ...

  • Critic rating 2
    Osaka brings Japanese to Shoreham. (July 26, 2012)

    Osaka Japanese Restaurant $$ | Japanese, Sushi 99-8 Route 25A Shoreham Shoreham gets a Japanese option with Osaka, which covers all the bases well, offering  sushi, ...

  • Pearl in Speonk. (July 18, 2014)

    Pearl $ | Japanese, Asian, Thai, Sushi, Chinese 295 Montauk Hwy. Village Square Shopping Center Speonk Serves Chinese, Japanese and Thai food. ...

  • Critic rating 1
    Hibachi chef Kenny Yen explains to patrons about

    Samurai Japanese Steak House $$$ | Japanese 46a Gerard St. Huntington A busy, trendy Japanese steakhouse, this eatery is on the corner of Huntington's Wall Street, ...

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