Newsday's Andi Berlin has the story. Credit: Randee Daddona

The dream of the '90s is alive on Long Island, as hibachi restaurants enter a heyday they've never seen before. The uniquely American-Japanese style of eating off a teppanyaki grill may have taken root in Manhattan, but it blossomed in the suburbs and today can be found in many towns and neighborhoods. 

Benihana got us all hooked on teriyaki-glazed steaks and epic grilling performances of tossing eggs and smoky "choo choo train" onions. But a new crop of restaurants goes even further with flashy interiors, cheeky jokes and hibachi chefs who squirt sake in your mouth from a squeeze bottle. It's all great fun, but with so many options, which one do you choose for your birthday party? 

We sought out six of the best hibachi restaurants in Nassau and Suffolk, using a combination of word-of-mouth recommendations and good old internet sleuthing. We ate at each one and rated the food, drinks, ambience and the hibachi show, to come up with a general power ranking. Here are Long Island's top hibachi restaurants, in order of preference from simply awesome to downright amazing. 

Kashi

222 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre

If the producers of The Blue Man Group and "Magic Mike XXL" opened a hibachi restaurant together, it would look something like this. The sprawling warehouse sports neon nightclub lighting and lots of men making loud banging and chopping noises. Hibachi chefs carry squeeze bottles with spouts that squirt sake across the room into people's mouths. And children run wild, buzzed on Shirley Temples and onion flames. Kashi is the rare restaurant that will serve you spicy tuna on a Pringle and top it with seaweed salad. Our server, Ken, who said he was from Fujian, China, had a confident vibe and gently reminded us to "say thank you" every time he doled out shrimp and zucchini. He had a generous hand and expertly cooked the steak to a juicy medium-rare.

Sip on this: Yoshi's Kiss ($12) tasted like watery cranberry vodka and sugar.

More info: Other locations at 12 Elm St., Huntington, 2736 Merrick Rd., Bellmore and 343 Jericho Tpke., Syosset. 516-442-7600, kashijapanese.com

Hibachi power ranking: 6 / 10 

Izumi

2931 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown

There's an immediate wow factor, courtesy of a massive golden Buddha at the entrance and the space ship-vibe dining room decked out with light beams and Chinese cabbage sculptures. Hibachi chefs stand back-to-back doing knife tricks and gonging people with serving trays. There's a lot of alpha energy — a patron picks up a sake squeeze bottle and pours it down another customer's throat; a hibachi chef squirts water from a baby bottle into a girl's eye and she starts crying. But it's all in good fun, and the chefs here go the extra mile, making balloon animals for kids and going wild on the teriyaki sauce. You know that squeeze bottle figurine that's ubiquitous at every hibachi spot? Don't say its name out loud unless you want sake squirted all over your face (and shirt). 

Sip on this: The Pomegranate Flirtini ($13) whispered little nothings into our ears.

More info: Other locations at 6550 Jericho Tpke., Commack, 527 Montauk Hwy., West Babylon and 5745 Sunrise Hwy., Holbrook. 516-622-9388, izumilevittown.com

Hibachi power ranking: 6.5 / 10 

Miyako Hibachi Sushi

550 S. Broadway, Hicksville

Miyako looks like a Japanese country house and plays a gentle soundtrack of ambient flute music on the speakers. The sushi rolls had an artfulness to them, topped with delicate strips of squid and mango and finished with fish eggs. Our server, Eddie, maintained the Zen theme, calmly cooking mounds of fried rice and using his spatula to catapult an egg into his hat. His scallops were hands-down the best bite we tasted during this project, blackened on the outside and pleasantly soft in the middle. But at the very end he busted out the sake and started pouring it into people's mouths until they couldn't take it anymore. That made it more difficult to catch the pieces of shrimp he threw into their mouths from across the table. By the end of the meal, he was giving dim sum recommendations in Hong Kong and we were all best friends.   

Sip on this: The flaming scorpion bowl for two ($17) is tiki-licious. 

More info: 516-470-9547, miyakohibachisushi.com

Hibachi power ranking: 7.5 / 10 

Shogun

4556 Austin Blvd., Island Park

This South Shore gem wins the award for best decorations, with a koi pond waterfall and hand-painted murals of Japanese courtesans. But the scene is rather low-key until William rolls up with his cart full of steaks and toys. Hands down, he gave the best performance of any hibachi chef, telling jokes and breaking out the sake every time we caught a piece of broccoli in our mouths. He turned a pile of fried rice into a beating heart, a symbol of the "happy couple" he was serving. And he set our chicken and lobster on fire more than once. His tone seemed to say, "I know this is a joke, but let's have some fun." 

Sip on this: The Ninja Turtle ($10) with Malibu and pineapple had us saying "Cowabunga!" 

More info: 516-889-8865, shogunisland.com

Hibachi power ranking: 8 / 10

Benihana

920 Merchants Concourse, Westbury

The original teppanyaki, Benihana was the first restaurant to bring the art form to the States in 1964. The difference is immediate upon walking in. There are no flashing neon lights. None of the servers are squirting sake onto the grill or in anyone's mouths. And the sushi rolls don't have cheeky names like Sexy Dragon or Tokyo Drift. Our chef, Jesus, was an absolute pro, laying out pounds of lobsters, shrimp and filet mignon onto the table and managing to cook each perfectly while customers asked him for soda and soy sauce. He was a quiet master but you could tell he took pride in his craft. After cooking, he performed an elaborate juggling act with two batons, ritually crossed his forearms in front of his chest and bowed. 

Sip on this: The Benihana punch ($14.50) was a sweet delight with rum and fruit juices.

More info: Other location at 2105 Northern Blvd, Manhasset. 516-222-6091, benihana.com

Hibachi power ranking: 9 / 10 

Samurai 

46-A Gerard St., Huntington

Maybe it was the excellent chirashi bowl or the spicy Fire Island roll with its addicting coat of wasabi chile powder. Or maybe it was the zombie cocktail, which  could have been sugary but pummeled with alcohol instead. The service was great too, and this downtown Huntington spot had the best atmosphere of any hibachi restaurant. The tables were spaced and separated by Japanese sliding doors for privacy. And a stellar performance featured a chef spinning a fork around his finger for a straight minute, and cooking the lobster just right. Or maybe it was the company, a tableful of co-workers ordering shots in plastic sample cups and cheersing someone in their ranks who had been promoted. Either way, Samurai wins in a battle of best hibachi experience.

Sip on this: If you're drinking martinis, get the Tokyo Kiss ($14) with Peach Schnapps and cranberry.

More info: 631-271-2588, samuraihibachi.com

Hibachi power ranking: 9.5 / 10

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