When my husband and I first started dating, we went out to a Japanese restaurant. We may have even ridden our bikes there. I remember that, with tip, it cost us $30, and I couldn't imagine spending that much money on a dinner for two.
I also couldn't have imagined that a quarter of a century later, we'd be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. So, in thinking back to that night, we thought we'd head out for Japanese. This time, we were driving, bringing two kids, and were pretty sure we'd spend more than $30. We decided on hibachi at Sakura Home.
It was freezing outside and slightly snowing, which made the thought of sitting next to a hot hibachi table very appealing. Sakura Home has an updated Japanese feel, brighter and more contemporary looking than Plum Garden (which is probably its main competition). You enter directly into the bar area, which is a bit odd, but walk to the hibachi room over a cute little bridge that overlooks a small koi pond.
The crowd and servers were sparse on a Tuesday, so we got a table all to ourselves, but it also meant that our waitstaff--who was super nice--and hibachi chef were stretched a bit thin. This left us and other tables with a lot of time chat, which was alternately annoying (we were starving!) and nice (we rarely get to do that).
Our son ordered Chicken Teriyaki off the kids' menu, as did our daughter. They both opted for noodles instead of rice, which was an alternative I haven't seen before at a hibachi restaurant. My husband ordered Steak with a side of Salmon; I went for Filet. Kids' meals come with an onion broth soup or salad (which has more of a buttermilk dressing than the traditional ginger); regular meals with both plus the obligatory shrimp.
The chicken was good with a smoky, salty, sweet teriyaki sauce, and they LOVED the noodles. My husband thought his steak was fine but really preferred the salmon, which was a huge portion for a side--as was the side of raw ginger he requested. My filet was fantastic, soft and tender and perfectly cooked to medium-rare. The veggies were delicious, too, and the rice was less seasoned than I typically like--remedied with extra soy and ginger. The final verdict was really revealed by our plates, which held no leftovers.
Our chef was fine and fun but didn't put on as much of a show as we typically experience: no tossing of rice, no egg tricks, no shooting shrimp.
After dinner, I mentioned to our server that it had been my son's birthday the day before, so he got to bang the gong and was presented with a free birthday sundae complete with candle. A nice touch!
Having now been to both hibachi places on Monroe, we prefer Plum Garden for the show but Sakura Home for the diversity of the menu and decor. Guess we can't have everything, so we'll "settle" for a happy, hibachi-full family any day of the week (or the quarter century) :)