Are you tired of the same sandwich shops for lunch everyday? No longer able to face pizza halfway through work? Too tired to meal prep and cart your own cooler back and forth to the office? Why not try Hibachi Express? This small, regional chain offers Japanese fast food at great prices and prepared fresh when you order. They have several locations in Alabama and Georgia, so if you are lucky enough to leave near one of their branches, you have a great new option to try to spice up your lunch break.
What is Hibachi Express? Hibachi Express is a fast food chain that serves food prepared in a traditional Japanese style that has been updated and adapted for the fast food industry. They prepare their ingredients, then cook them on a giant, hot, iron cooking plate. Oddly enough, this style of cooking is referred to as teppan in Japanese. Decades ago, there was a big misunderstanding between American marketers and Japanese chefs wanting to open restaurants in the United States. Some chefs wanted to prepare food using teppan, the big, hot, cooking plate, while others wanted to use a small charcoal stove called a shichirin. Some marketers believed that shichirin would be too difficult for customers in the United States to say and spell, so they decided to use the word hibachi instead. In Japanese, hibachis are bowls made of wood and clay, or metal, that use charcoal to heat rooms and buildings. The marketers won the argument, and in the United States shichirin became known as hibachi. It is somewhat understandable, the shichirin and the hibachi are both bowls that are filled with charcoal. However, teppan was also thrown in and grouped under the same name, even though the giant, hot, iron plate does not look anything like a bowl. Hibachi Express could technically be called a teppanyaki restaurant, but now that hibachi is the expected word in the United States, they would be creating an uphill battle for themselves and their marketing team.
What does the menu offer?
They have a pretty large menu for a fast food restaurant, with appetizers, lighter meals, main dishes, and options for party platters. Hibachi Express is a good choice for lunch because they make their food fresh when ordered, therefore you will get fresher ingredients than at some fast food businesses. Also, the portions are very generous, so with most of the meal options, you will probably have enough food leftover for an afternoon snack to help you get through that mid-afternoon energy slump.
They offer a range of appetizers, from spicy chicken wings, to egg rolls, rangoons, dumplings and teriyaki skewers. These have a wide price range, starting at $1.50 and going all the way up to $5.99. If you are the kind of person that likes to have a little appetizer to start your meal, you certainly have options here. And if you are concerned about your lunch budget, there are more economical choices.
Salads and lighter options
There is a selection of house salads with six different salad dressings to choose from, all of which are made by Hibachi Express. You can get a vegetarian house salad for $3.99 or your choice of chicken, steak or shrimp from $4.99 to $6.99. They have a soup of the day for only $1.99, so if you are in the mood for soup, this is a great option for a tight budget. They also have a ginger wrap sandwich for $3.99. This selection of healthy, light options would make a nice choice for a fresh lunch, giving you lots of energy for the rest of your work day.
The main dishes
There are two large sections of the Hibachi Express main dish menu: the hibachi dishes and the teriyaki rice bowls.
Each hibachi dish comes with fried rice, zucchini, onion and Hibachi Express’ special sauce. You can choose from a vegetable hibachi, or from a broad selection of meats which includes chicken, steak, shrimp, grouper, or scallops. Each of these can be served as a half order or a full order. Depending on which hibachi meal you choose, the half order prices range from $3.50 to $7.99 and the full order prices range from $3.99 to $9.99. The full orders are generous portions and would be good for a big appetite or could be taken as leftovers. If your work day has really revved up your appetite and you need something even more filling, they have combo meals as well. The Land Lover Combo, the Seafood Combo and the Surf and Turf Combo are all huge meals that range in price from $8.99 to $10.99.
The teriyaki rice bowls come with fried rice, your choice of meat or vegetables and teriyaki sauce. The meat options are chicken, steak or shrimp, and the bowls range in price from $3.99 for the vegetarian version, up to $5.99 for the shrimp. These are slightly smaller portions than the full hibachi meals, however they are still generous, especially for the price.
If you are going out to lunch with a large group of colleagues, or are planning a buffet lunch at the office, Hibachi Express has party platters that will simplify the process for you, and help your budget. These are a bargain for a group, and will save everyone the hassle of trying to keep track of individual orders. They have chicken wings in batches of 50 or 100 for $19.99 or $39.99, respectively. You can also order fried rice, or a selection of hibachi meals ranging in price from $14.99 to $39.99 per pan. Some of the selections include beef and mushrooms or scallop and broccoli. Hibachi Express is a great option for an office lunch if you have co-workers with dietary restrictions. The fried rice and the hibachi vegetables are suitable for vegetarians or vegans, and the other hibachi options are all naturally gluten-free.