Behind the Recipes

Now You Can Make Your Favorite Restaurant “Hibachi” Dinner at Home

Our recipe delivers all the savory-sweet appeal of a Japanese steakhouse dinner.

Published Sept. 10, 2019.

I’m turning 12 and I’m out for my birthday dinner. Across the counter from me is a wisecracking daredevil with a hip holster full of knives. He's juggling squeeze bottles and conjuring fireballs on a ripping-hot flat-top grill—and then he makes a flaming volcano out of a sliced onion.

At some point, he hits my mom in the arm with a shrimp. I laugh until I cry, and then he serves me a plate of savory, buttery steak; caramelized stir-fried vegetables; zippy white sauce; and fried rice. Decades later, the taste of a “hibachi” dinner (“teppanyaki” would be a more accurate term) can still return me to that revelatory moment from my childhood.

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Could I re-create the components of this dazzling meal at home? I made and tasted all the copycat recipes I could find, without much satisfaction. Undaunted, I talked my editor into joining me for lunch at the local Japanese steakhouse, where we tried to sleuth out just how the experts did it. The chef used a squeeze bottle filled with sake to conjure the famous fireballs, and then he picked up a bottle of seasoned soy sauce to squirt on pretty much everything. A mound of garlic butter also made its way into most dishes on the flattop. The flavors of garlic, soy sauce, butter, and sake permeated the meal.

With their knives and spatulas whirling, the pros use the broad cooking surface of the flattop to cook everything at once—steak, vegetables, and fried rice. But I knew I’d need to make some adjustments for my homemade version. To mimic the powerful heat of the flattop, I’d cook in a large cast-iron skillet. I’d also need to split the cooking into stages: steaks first and then the vegetables. As a bonus, this plan would allow the meat to rest while the vegetables cooked.

At the restaurant we visited, they chop the steak right on the flattop and then add a good squirt of seasoned soy sauce and a knob of garlic butter on top, but I decided to make an all-in-one condiment by mixing together soy sauce, garlic, and melted butter. I cooked my steaks whole (tasters preferred rich, beefy rib eye to sirloin and filet), sliced them, and then drizzled on this magic condiment. Delicious.

White Mustard Sauce
White Mustard Sauce
Sweet Ginger Sauce
Sweet Ginger Sauce
Spicy Mayonnaise (Yum-Yum Sauce)
Spicy Mayonnaise (Yum-Yum Sauce)

For the vegetables, I chose the usual suspects: shiitake caps, onions, and zucchini, cut so that they would all be cooked through at the same time. For a superflavorful start, I added them to the drippings my rib eyes had left in the still-hot cast-iron skillet, and to ensure nice browning, I patted them into a single layer and resisted the urge to stir for a few minutes. After a stir and another pause for more browning, I added more soy-garlic butter and a splash of mirin—a sweetened rice wine—for the familiar finishing touch.

The results? Juicy slices of perfectly seared rib eye and beautifully browned and glazed veggies that were just as good as those I'd had so many years ago. When served with the accompanying sauces and my recipe for simple fried rice, the meal was spot-on!


Japanese Steakhouse Steak and Vegetables

The combination of savory, juicy ribeye, buttery soy-glazed mushrooms, and zucchini is delectable. 
Get the Recipe

This is a members' feature.