What Is Hibachi?

If you are interested in Japanese cuisine, you may have heard of the word ‘hibachi’. In Japanese it translates to ‘fire bowl’. This is because it not only is a style of cooking but the actual device the food is cooked in.

What Is Hibachi?

A hibachi is a type of brazier that can be cylindrical, square, or round. Most commonly it is used alongside charcoal to cook food. However, you will find that hibachi is a lot more Western than you first thought.

In America, hibachi is often used to recreate an authentic style of Japanese cooking. If you want to know more about what a hibachi is, and how the Japanese cook this style of food, then read on!

What Actually Is Hibachi?

A hibachi was not initially created for cooking food. Instead, it was built to heat homes. It is thought that a hibachi was first made during the Heian period (794 AD – 1185). 

However, these types of homes had very good ventilation. If a hibachi was to be used in modern homes, then there is a good chance of carbon monoxide poisoning. For this reason, the hibachi you see today in restaurants is composed of iron griddles, rather than authentic hibachi.

Is Hibachi In America Authentically Japanese?

A hibachi in Western restaurants is not authentically Japanese. However, do not let this disappoint you. Often the fun bit is seeing the food be prepared.

An authentic hibachi is powered by charcoal or gas, and there is a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal. For this reason alone, using an iron griddle to replicate hibachi cooking is a lot safer. 

It also allows a chef to cook lots of food at the same time in front of customers, which is often an exciting experience. 

For an authentic hibachi cooking experience to happen, the building would need lots of ventilation. A hibachi was created to provide warmth in a home, rather than cooking.

Is Hibachi Cuisine In America Authentic?

While you might love eating out at your local hibachi restaurant, you might be surprised to learn that hibachi itself is not the Japanese term for this kind of cuisine. Instead, it is known as teppanyaki.

Teppanyaki is a cooking style in Japan that is often referred to as hibachi in Western culture. This is because the word ‘teppan’ translates to “iron plate” while ‘yaki’ is in reference to the kind of pan-fried, broiled, and grilled food that the iron plate can create.

Despite both hibachi and teppanyaki being confused with one another, they are not the same thing. One has been used as a way to heat water and homes, while the other can cook food. 

However, to make things easier, we shall refer to hibachi as the cooking device and technique in this article to make things easier as we carry on.

What Is Hibachi?

What Is An American Hibachi Restaurant?

An American hibachi restaurant is a place you can visit to watch your food being cooked as you sit and wait for it. This is very exciting because you get to watch the food being cooked and then served directly to you.

When you first enter the hibachi restaurant, you will be taken to your seat. More often than not this is at a large and round table. A chef will prepare, cook and serve you the dish at your table using an iron griddle.

You can also talk to the chef and ask them questions, but try not to do this while they are in the middle of cooking. Some chefs even put on fun displays and show you fun ways they can cook your dish. 

What Sort Of Food Is Cooked In Hibachi?

Hibachi mainly serves Japanese-inspired cuisine. This can be rice, shrimp, steak, fried noodles, pan-fried batter (monjayaki), or even savory pancakes (okonomiyaki) – among many other things!

Is There Etiquette To Follow At Hibachi Restaurant?

While a hibachi restaurant is just like any other place – you are going there to eat – there are a couple of ‘rules’ you should follow. For example, it is always best to refrain from chatting with the chef as they make and prepare your food.

That is unless it is seen as standard in that particular restaurant. It always helps to play it by ear as not all establishments are going to be the same. 

However, one rule that will be the same for all hibachi restaurants is this one: do not take any of the food until it is served to you. Reaching across the table to grab cooked food is seen as rude, and should not be done.

Wait until the food is cooked and then served on a plate to you before you begin eating it. 

Is Eating Hibachi Healthy?

Eating food made in hibachi style is often considered healthy. However, it always depends on what the food is (any sauces and so on), and how the food is cooked.

The healthiest items are grilled food, but the less healthy are the ones that have been fried. You may also want to choose steamed veggies.

If you are not sure what style of food to choose, then do not be afraid to ask the server or chef for advice. 

Final Thoughts

Hibachi is always a fun experience, especially when you are really hungry. You get to watch the chef preparing your food right in front of your face.

It gives you a chance to watch the chef doing what he or she does best. It also allows you to be entertained as you wait for the dish to be served.

However, real hibachi was never created for cooking. It was made in order to heat water or to keep homes warm. The cooking technique hibachi is confused for is teppanyaki. This is a Japanese cooking technique that uses an iron griddle to cook food in front of customers.

However, in Western culture, we know this open griddle cooking as hibachi.

Mark Williams
Latest posts by Mark Williams (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *