If you are looking for a new experience to share with your family and your kids, try Hibachi Express. This regional chain has locations in Alabama and Georgia, and offers affordable, fast Japanese food at a reasonable price. If you want to introduce your kids to the flavors of Japan, this would be a great option. Hibachi Express would be a way to show your kids the taste and style of Japanese food with the price or the intimidating raw fish of a sushi restaurant. They have a big menu, so there will surely be something for everyone to enjoy. Their portions are generous and the prices are great, so you can happily treat your family to a meal out without worrying about the cost.
Why called it Hibachi Express? While hibachi is a Japanese word, you actually will not see any hibachis at these restaurants. Here are some fun facts to share with your kids when you bring them to Hibachi Express for lunch: the use of the word hibachi is actually a big misunderstanding! It is quite common to see hibachi restaurants in the United States. They serve Japanese food and usually prepare their dishes using a similar method, by cooking it on a giant, hot, iron plate. This big plate is actually called a teppan in Japanese, and occasionally you will see restaurants that advertise using a teppan, but usually they call themselves hibachi restaurants. This is because when the use of the teppan was first coming to the United States, there was another cooking method arriving simultaneously. This other method uses a round charcoal cooking stove called a shichirin. At that time, the people in charge of marketing these new types of Japanese restaurant decided shichirin would be too difficult and complicated for native English speakers. So they decided that instead of shichirin, they would use the term hibachi. Hibachis are traditional Japanese bowls made of combinations of wood, clay or metal that use charcoal to heat rooms and buildings. Hibachis and shichirins look similar, so the people in charge of those first restaurants either chose the name because they thought it would be easier to say, or mistranslated the word for shichirin. Either way, hibachi became the new word used to describe Japanese cooking, and the teppan accidentally got lumped into the same category, even though the cooking plate does not look anything like a shichirin or a hibachi.
Japanese food, with some American flair
If some of your family members, especially the kids, are intimidated by the idea of trying something from another country, Hibachi Express will be a great option for you. While the menu does feature traditional Japanese flavors in many of the dishes, there are also some more familiar options.
To start: appetizers and salads
The appetizers include spicy chicken wings and egg rolls, which most customers will have tried before. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the crab rangoons, the Asian dumplings or the teriyaki skewers. The appetizer menu has a wide price range, from $1.50 for an egg roll to $5.99 for eight chicken wings, so there are choices to fit a range of budgets.
Hibachi Express offers a soup of the day for only $1.99. They also have salads that are great for an appetizer, a lunch or a light dinner depending on the size of your appetite. They offer a vegetarian salad, or house salads with chicken, steak or shrimp from $3.99 to $6.99. Each salad comes with your choice of six dressings, all of which are made by Hibachi Express.
The main event
The menu of main dishes is separated into two main categories: hibachi dishes and teriyaki rice bowls. The hibachi dishes are the namesake meals at Hibachi Express, so I would highly recommend tasting them.
Each hibachi meal is served with fried rice, zucchini, onion and Hibachi Express’ own special sauce. You can order a full order or a half order, depending on how hungry you are. The full orders are usually only $0.50 or $1.00 more than the half order, and basically give you a second meal, making them a fantastic bargain. They would be ideal for sharing, or for taking home as leftovers. Your choices for the hibachi meals are mixed vegetable, chicken, steak, shrimp, grouper, or scallops, and range in price from $3.50 to $9.99 depending on which kind you order and whether you choose a half or full portion. If you are really hungry, they also have big combos that only come in the full order size and are even more filling than the regular hibachi meals. These are the Land Lovers Combo, the Seafood Combo and the Surf and Turf Combo, ranging from $8.99 to $10.99.
The teriyaki rice bowls each come with fried rice, teriyaki sauce and your choice of mixed vegetables, chicken, steak, or shrimp. These are very reasonably priced, from $3.99 to $5.99 and are probably the best bargain on the menu for a single meal.
For the kids
If your kids are just a bit too intimidated to order a whole meal of Japanese food, Hibachi Express offers a kids menu. This includes three popular favorites: chicken tenders, fried shrimp or a corn dog, all served with french fries for only $3.99.
Party platters for a great family gathering
Instead of the usual sandwich or pizza bar, why not try Japanese food for your next casual family gathering? Hibachi Express offers party platters that are great for an informal event like watching the big game, a pool party or a picnic. The have chicken wings, fried rice and a selection of hibachi dishes that will surely surprise and delight your guests, especially if they have never had the opportunity to try Japanese food before. The hibachi comes in mixed vegetable, chicken and broccoli, beef and mushroom, shrimp and broccoli, or scallop and broccoli, so there will definitely be lots of options for everyone to try. The party platters start at only $10.99, making them a great option for a fun party food that will not put too much strain on your budget.