Fresh, authentic dishes served at sushi, hibachi eatery

A student patron entering Kampai Hibachi Steakhouse.
A student patron entering Kampai Hibachi Steakhouse. (Photo provided by Christina Madera)

This weekend my foodie target was Kampai Hibachi Steakhouse, which is a Japanese hibachi grill and sushi bar.

The restaurant is conveniently close to campus, only a five-minute walk from Sheldon Hall. The structure is small and homey. Its brick exterior is decorated with colorful flags along the edge of the roof, giving the eatery a lively and inviting appearance from the start.

Walking in, you are given two options: sitting at the hibachi table or the standard booth. At the hibachi table, a chef cooks the food before your eyes so you are entertained prior to the meal being served. Our chef was funny and polite, which made the evening that much more enjoyable.

The appetizers included a small garden salad with ginger dressing and a light, nutty soup with a faint taste of miso, mushrooms and soy sauce. It was a good starter meal, much better than the traditional bread and butter; however, it was not filling enough, so my suitemates and I ordered a second appetizer.

Sushi was the next order of business. The Alaskan roll included raw salmon, avocado and shredded cucumber on brown rice. The roll was so beautifully presented on the platter that I did not want to eat it. But I was starving so I snapped a photo of the plate for Snapchat and extended my wooden chopsticks for that first piece and it was a bite crafted by the gods. The texture was so smooth and you could taste how fresh the ingredients were. I didn’t even add soy sauce because it was perfect on its own. My roommate ordered a Boston roll. It included shrimp, lettuce, mayo and cucumber. No single flavor overpowered another. It almost tasted like a bite-sized sandwich. I suggest asking for eel sauce on the side in order to give it a hint of sweetness.

For the main course you had the choice of tofu, vegetables, seafood, poultry beef, or a combination of two. I chose chicken and shrimp, which comes with fried rice and mixed veggies. The fried rice was soft and smooth. It has pieces of fried egg in it and a dash of soy sauce melded in. The shrimp and chicken were saturated in teriyaki sauce and freshly squeezed lemon juice. It was savory and extremely juicy. The broccoli, carrot and celery blend was rich as it was doused in the teriyaki. The rice served as a perfect base to calm the strong seasoning of the shrimp, chicken and vegetables.

One of my suitemates was in the mood for typical Chinese food, so she ordered chicken and broccoli with white rice. The spoonful I sampled has got to be the most authentic Chinese I have ever had. It did not remind me of the to-go Chinese food that comes in the white takeout container with the solid wire handle or of the “Thank You, Have a Nice Day” smiley-faced plastic bag. This wasn’t junk food; it tasted like an actual meal.

Overall, the experience was pleasurable. I would surely recommend this restaurant for a girl’s night out or even a date with your significant other. The price range is about $30 to $40, including drinks. The food is great, the environment is great. The only thing it is missing is you.