If you are hankering for something quick, delicious, reasonably priced and interesting to eat in Mobile, Alabama, check out Hibachi Express. This small chain serves Japanese food at several locations in Alabama and Georgia. If you have never had Japanese food before, this would be a great place to taste the flavors used in Japanese cooking. Since it is fast and inexpensive, it will not be scary trying something new!
What is a “hibachi”? Hibachi Express chose the name “hibachi” in reference to how the staff prepares food at their restaurants. However, the whole thing is a kind of funny misunderstanding. In Japanese, a hibachi is a type of bowl. Hibachis have been used in Japan since at least the 8thcentury! These bowls have a layer of ash at the bottom, then hot charcoals are placed on the ash and the whole system is used as a way to heat rooms and houses. These bowls were originally made out of wood, usually cypress wood, then lined with a layer of clay. As time went on, the craftsmen making these bowls got more talented and more creative. As they learned more about how to work with metals, they soon began adding metal to their designs. Sometimes the bowls would have lacquered finished or a layer of gold leaf. They were sometimes decorated with all kinds of ornamentation. Hibachis were used, traditionally, primarily by wealthier people; like Samurais and aristocrats. As time went by, they gradually became more common among the general population and soon could be found in homes all over Japan. As the popularity of hibachis increased, its uses evolved. Although they were originally only used for heating rooms, they were eventually used for other things. During World War II, for example, there is evidence that Japanese soldiers used hibachis as cigarette lighters and portable stoves. It was not until after World War II, that hibachis began to disappear and lose their popularity. Until then, they were used as heaters not only in people’s homes, but also in public spaces, like lobbies and train stations. After World War II, however, improvements in technology meant that hibachis were replaced by oil heaters. Today, they are mostly only seen in museums or as symbols during certain festivals or ceremonies, like tea ceremonies.
In the United States, it is common to refer to the term “hibachi” when discussing Japanese cuisine, however they were not used in cooking in Japan. The word may actually be a funny misunderstanding. In the United States, most restaurants that claim to serve hibachi food, are actually using either a charcoal cooking stove, known as a shichirin, or an iron hot plate, known as a teppan. The theory is that either teppan was mistranslated, or that marketers decades ago decided “shichirin” would be too difficult for native English speakers to pronounce and spell. So they chose to use the word hibachi instead. Now there are loads of hibachi restaurants in the United States, like Hibachi Express, that are actually using a teppan method to prepare their food.
An introduction to the Hibachi Express menu
Of course, you cannot choose a restaurant without having an idea about their menu. So let’s take a closer look at the options available at Hibachi Express.
First, the appetizers. They have an adequate selection, with chicken wings, egg rolls, crab rangoons, dumplings and skewers. While there are no vegetarian appetizers, there are enough choices to make other diners happy. The prices are very reasonable, ranging from $1.50 to $5.99.
If you are in the mood for something light, they offer a soup of the day, a variety of salads or a ginger wrap sandwich. These lighter options come with a wide selection of salad dressings and range in price from $1.99 to $6.99. With such a low price, these make an excellent light lunch or snack.
There are two sections to the main dish menu; there are general main dishes and another section dedicated to Teriyaki bowls. Among the main dishes you will find Hibachi dishes that come in full orders or half orders. You can choose between rice and vegetables, chicken, steak, shrimp, grouper or scallops. These range in price from $3.50 to $9.99, depending on whether you order a full or half portion and what kind of meat you choose. They also have combo meals that are only available as full orders. These are the land lover’s combo, the seafood combo and the surf and turf combo, with a price range of $8.99 to $10.99. The Teriyaki Rice Bowls come with fried rice, teriyaki sauce and vegetarian, chicken, steak or shrimp options. These are a great bargain , ranging in price from $3.99 to $5.99 for generous portions. They also offer a kids menu, for children aged 12 and under. This menu is definitely not authentic Japanese food, but does feature items most kids enjoy. These options are chicken tenders, fried shrimp, and corn dogs, all served with french fries, and a reasonable price at $3.99 each.
Additional options: dessert, drinks, and party platters
For dessert, they offer a selection of freshly baked pies and cookies. You can get the pies either whole, or by the slice. While a whole pie is $8.99, a slice is only $1.99 and a cookie is only $0.99. For beverages, they offer a selection of fountain drinks and slushies, from $0.99 to $1.75, depending on the size you order. For larger groups or parties, they also offer party platters. You can order chicken wings in batches of 50 or 100, and large orders of fried rice, or a selection of five different hibachi dishes. These platters range in price from $10.99 to $39.99 each, depending on which option you choose. You can also order your favorite sauce by the quart for $8.99.
Visit Hibachi Express online
To get more information about the locations or the menu, visit their website at www.thehibachiexpress.com. A visit to Hibachi Express will give you an introduction to the flavors of Japanese cuisine. The generous portions will satisfy your appetite, and the low prices will appease your wallet!