From Sleek Sushi to Fiery Fun around the Hibachi Grill
“Watch your eyebrows!” says the chef. Before the words can register in our brains, there’s a fiery flash and a rush of heat that comes up like an unexpected wave at the seashore. As the flame subsides, we check our eyebrows to make sure they’re still intact and giggle as Chef Adam continues the lively show which will conclude with the presentation of our dinner.
Hasn’t this guy heard the idiom, “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned”? Thankfully the head chef at Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi has years of experience (although when asked, he laughs and says he’s watched some YouTube videos). Not only does he know how to cook, he can flip eggs from the grill and catch them in his hat — where a rubber chicken also hides out for his first of many gags.
As an appetizer, Chef Adam serves us the most amazing hibachi fried noodles. Hoping to attempt a recreation at home, I ask what’s in the seasoned oil he’s been liberally squirting on the grill. The cheeky answer: “baby oil.”
To be a successful hibachi chef, your skills as an entertainer are just as important as your culinary technique. The goal is to amuse and amaze guests while producing their dinner one entertaining step at a time.
Wasabi, the newest restaurant to open at Miromar Outlets, is already becoming a popular place for celebrations. The night we visited (a Monday), four parties were celebrating a birthday. The Wasabi crew makes it extra festive with a drum processional and a boisterous Japanese birthday song.
Before the chef leaves, he offers everyone a shot of saki from a squirt bottle aimed with precision for a direct hit to the open mouth (children get Sprite).
For those who like things a little quieter, the other side of the house offers a chicer atmosphere. Beyond the bubbles of the water wall lies seating more suitable for conversation with a sleek sushi lounge at one end and a neon-lit liquor bar at the other. Sushi bar seating offers a less animated but highly skilled demonstration of his Japanese edible art form, while table seating allows guests to order entrees from the kitchen like Salmon Teriyaki, Tempura and Udon Noodle dishes.
The bar offers several varieties of wine, sake and cocktails including the Purple Haze, served with warm sake and Chambord raspberry liqueur. Signature cocktails include martinis, margaritas and Japanese Mai Tai. Mixed drink aficionados also may want to try the fiery “Volcano Bowls.”
Wasabi is the sister restaurant to Kumo Japanese Steak House in Fort Myers. The experience of the chefs is evident from the elegant presentation of sushi and sashimi trays to the dazzling humor of the hibachi show.
The Wasabi house salad is piled with seafood selections offering an array of textures in a tangy ponzu sauce made from vinegar, citrus and soy. This tasty cold salad features octopus, shrimp and surimi topped with tobiko (flying fish roe), which provides not only flavor and texture but also color.
One of Wasabi’s most popular appetizers, the Seafood Dynamite delivers a one-two punch of creamy-spicy flavor. Baked scallops, crab meat and mushrooms melt in the mouth — and the Japanese mayo-based sauce is indeed “dynamite”! It’s beautifully presented in a large scallop shell.
SUSHI TART TART
The artistry is evident in the presentation of this specialty raw roll which includes tuna, salmon and yellowtail on top of fried seaweed. The Sushi Tart is sliced and positioned to showcase its colorful layers of sushi rice, seaweed, fish and avocado. Fanned cucumber slices and orchid petals make this dish as lovely as it is tasty.
For those who prefer cooked sushi rolls, the Super Lobster is a popular and tasty choice, filled with sliced whole lobster, krabmeat, cream cheese and cucumber. This seaweed-wrapped roll is drizzled with sweet eel sauce and topped with tobiko.
Succulent salmon filets come to the table sizzling atop a bed of caramelized onions. Glazed in sweet teriyaki and sprinkled with sesame seeds, this flavorful entree from the Wasabi kitchen is served with miso soup, house salad and white rice. Other teriyaki options include chicken, shrimp, tuna, beef or a combination.
Dinner and a show is a must for first-time visits. Wasabi’s highly trained hibachi chefs entertain while they expertly grill vegetables, fried rice, seafood, chicken and steak, all served with “yum yum” sauce — it’s creamy, a bit fruity and, as the name suggests, oh so yummy! There are more than 30 hibachi combinations on the menu. We chose shrimp, scallops and steak with fried rice. Hibachi hours are 4:30 p.m. to close Monday through Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi
10801 Corkscrew Road, Suite 51