For me, eating out is all about gathering with friends. And you won't find a better group-dining atmosphere than at hibachi: Diners are seated around a large table with a grill (a hibachi) in the center, where a chef cooks and performs culinary tricks.
The restaurant chain Benihana
popularized the Japanese concept, but my favorite local option is Mt Fuji Japanese Cuisine.
The three-year-old sushi and hibachi spot on the corner of Grant Street and East Sixth Avenue is all about the experience. On a recent visit, our chef made an onion volcano (stacked onions that allow the steam to flow from the grill and out the top) and flipped balls of sticky rice into the air for patrons to catch in their mouths.
Although hibachi is typically on the expensive side, Mt. Fuji offers a must-try, two-for-one special on Sunday and Monday nights. Each person gets clear soup, salad, noodles, steamed rice---we suggest ponying up the $2.95 for the delicious fried rice---vegetables infused with a sweet soy sauce, and a choice of protein (chicken, shrimp, salmon, or steak) all for $25.99. I tried a combination of shrimp and steak, and the hearty portion tasted just as good for lunch the next day.
The six hibachi tables fill up fast, so reservations are recommended.
601 Grant St., 303-860-8088