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japanese food

Japanese Food: Uma Hibachi Restaurant

Light fixtures above the booths at Uma Hibachi

Over the weekend, Tiff and I decided to tackle another item on our Asian to-do list: Japanese Hibachi food.

Tiff is more of our Japanese connoisseur (although, she’ll probably tell me she’s more of an enthusiast than an expert), so this was a very enlightening trip. The parking lot was jam-packed and we almost didn’t find a spot. As I was turning around, I said, “Okay, if I don’t find a spot it means it wasn’t meant to be.” Wouldn’t you know it? By the time I turned around, I actually found a spot that had just opened up.

Once we got inside, we were immediately greeted by a nice man who was the host. What transpired was a very fast-paced environment. We took booth seats instead of sitting around the hibachi grills. There was a friendly woman busing tables, and let me tell you, she didn’t mess around. She was very proficient and she also brought our drinks and would instantly come and clear our tables the minute we pushed an empty plate or dish towards the end of the table.

Then, a waiter came along and took our orders. (Side note: there is a dessert menu but make sure you order everything ahead.)

japanese food
Gyoza at Uma Hibachi.

Tiff and I ordered an appetizer to share: gyoza (this is a pan fried food that has a pork and cabbage mixture instead and the outside is a crispy, yet soft wonton wrapper.) This was my favorite, unexpected surprise of the night. I’d say it was my favorite “new” food of the night, and I was still thinking about it the next day.

Let’s not forget to mention the adorable plating! I loved the paper doily that the gyoza sat on. Also, the kale bed with the cherry sitting on top was an odd yet interesting combination. (And yes, Tiff stole that cherry before I even had the chance.) There was also a side dish of soy sauce, which added a nice balance to the gyoza.

Also, as a disclaimer… if you are picky about what you eat, ease into Japanese food. If you are American or anything other than Japanese, the food is quite different. If you enjoy rice and hearty Asian dishes, you’ll probably enjoy Japanese style food. The only reason I say this is because I have a relative that actually didn’t like the food here. So, everyone is different and certain foods may need to be eaten more than once to really gauge whether you like them or not. As I mention, some foods are an acquired taste, and at the end of the day, you just might not be that into them. (And that’s perfectly okay.)

japanese food
Chicken Teriyaki at Uma Hibachi.

Our main course was the chicken teriyaki meals that come with sticky rice and a couple vegetables for plating. Oh my goodness. Let me tell you, the chicken was divine. It was cooked perfectly, moist, and the teriyaki sauce was to die for. Tiff and I started putting our rice in the leftover sauce—it was that good. This food was plated so perfectly that I couldn’t resist in taking shot after shot. (A shout out to my note 8 for the great, quality photos.)

Close up of Chicken Teriyaki at Uma Hibachi.

This is slightly out of order, but this was the first thing we were served after our drinks. We received a small salad along with Tiff’s coveted miso soup (this is a mushroom soup in a type of pork broth).

Miso soup and salad from Uma Hibachi.

The salad was an intriguing experience as it was served with a white-looking dressing that is tangy yet sweet. It was also very creamy and light. It wasn’t my personal favorite dressing, but it was still good enough for me to finish the salad. I don’t think I’d be able to eat a larger portion as I think the taste would get a bit too sickening for my personal taste. You might need an acquired taste for this specific type of dressing.

From my research, this white salad dressing is usually comprised of mayo, white miso, sugar, soy sauce, peanut oil, toasted sesame oil, garlic, rice vinegar, and cooking wine or mirin.

japanese food
Glistening Miso Soup at Uma Hibachi.

The Miso Soup was quite good, but I’m not a big mushroom fan. I do like them, but I have to be in the right mood to really like and enjoy them.  Nonetheless, the soup was light yet hearty and included fresh cut mushrooms and scallions. The broth literally glistened from the lighting, which we managed to capture in the above picture.

So, what is miso exactly? It’s a fermented, thick soybean paste that is savory yet rich yet salty.

Our Ratings.

Andrea’s Rating: If you love culture and trying international cuisines as much as I do, you won’t be surprised that I loved my entire experience at Uma Hibachi and give it a 9 out of 10. This was my very first time at a Japanese restaurant, so I had no idea what to expect. There is a variety of Japanese food to choose from. (They also have steak and other chicken items on the menu if you want to play it safe.) I do not eat any kind of fish or seafood, let alone get past the smell of it, so the fact that the restaurant didn’t smell “fishy” was the biggest bonus of all. I am also now addicted to gyoza and am dreaming of the next time I get to try it again.

Also, let’s not forget how amazing and supple the chicken tasted. I am very pleased with my experience and am happy to have tried more Asian cuisine.  The only reason I dock one point is that you shouldn’t expect an engaging, social experience with your waiter or any of the other staff. While perfectly capable and nice, it is not quite the same as American-style hospitality. I found myself wanting to ask questions and engage with the staff, but things were often so fast-paced that I didn’t have the opportunity or a chance to get in a word edge wise. Otherwise, excellent experience.

My next stop is traveling to the nearest, authentic Korean restaurant to try their fare. Stay tuned!

Tiff’s Rating:

I give it 10 gyozas out of ten! I was the one to suggest getting the gyoza so I can use this as my rating! On a serious note, I had an absolute wonderful time and the food was indeed amazing. I do agree with Andrea that the waitstaff wasn’t conversation-friendly but the high-quality of food and the very prompt service made me not mind it as much. I was too occupied with eating those delectable foods to be bothered with anything else, lol.

The next time that I visit this restaurant, I would like to order some yakitori for an appetizer. There were a few other appetizers and dishes that I am interested in trying so hopefully, we may have a part two to this post one day!

Uma Hibachi’s Facebook Page. If you go through the photos, you can check out the menu. If you’re ever in the area or are a local, I thought it was a great place to eat that beats the endless pizza/Italian fare that runs rampant in our area. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want something else to eat.

I talk briefly about Korean food here. There are some great recipes in Koreatown that I have yet to make, so let’s add that to my list of things I need to do in 2019.

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