Hokkaido Hibachi & Sushi Restaurant
The best way to know what Hokkaido Hibachi and Sushi Restaurant provides is to read what customers experience.
Liz Balmaseda wrote: "I have to admit I had stayed away from Hokkaido, despite the good rumblings I had heard about the hibachi/sushi eatery. I wasn’t a huge fan of the hibachi shtick, its knife and fire tricks, its forced community seating arrangements. The whole thing just felt so retro, and not in a good way.
But when I landed at the Abacoa restaurant on a recent night for holiday cocktails and dinner with friends, the festive if kitschy concept seemed just right. And as the evening progressed, from artfully presented appetizers through a hearty three- course hibachi dinner, it gradually swept away my preconceptions.
Tucked between Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus and Roger Dean Stadium, Hokkaido anchors a lively corner of the Abacoa Town Center, a plaza that might feel overly “Stepford” if not for its rampant karaoke nights, of which the hibachi house hosts a few. In that spirit, Hokkaido aims for a feel of casual revelry, and this is just what we were looking for.
Of course, I wasn’t too sure how the evening would turn out as I watched a huddle of fresh shrimp sizzle for what seemed to be a little too long on the hibachi flat grill. There they were, the fittest of them fighting for their survival at the hand of a Filipino hibachi chef named Darwin. But I’ll get back to the huddled shrimp in a minute. Other noteworthy things happened before that.
Seriously good appetizers were served. The best of them was the Appetizers Deluxe plate ($15), a decidedly retro array of chicken wings, barbecue spare ribs and skewered teriyaki steak. The unifying theme of the dishes three components: the juicy factor.
The sweetly glazed ribs proved to be as moist as they were tender. Ditto for the wings. Despite their quite plain appearance (fried, no sauce), they burst with flavor and juiciness. The skewered steak, delicately flavored, seemed more of a beef satay than a teriyaki, but that was fine by me. A strong teriyaki might have clashed with the flavors of the ribs.
Our plate of cool, shrimp-stuffed Vietnamese spring rolls ($6) complemented the deeper flavors of the “Deluxe” platter. The one minor disappointment: our dish of Singapore Calamari ($8). While they were nicely peppered and fried, they arrived a bit chewy.
Those starters were followed by soup and salad (included in our hibachi orders). The included soup is a clear but rich beef broth flavored with griddled onion slices and mushrooms. The salad is a toss of basic iceberg topped with a bright ginger dressing. Both were respectable additions to the meal.
Our hibachi show, featuring a swashbuckling display by the daunting Darwin, centered on the fate of three selected entrees: lobster ($29), filet mignon ($27) and a chicken and shrimp combo ($21).
Each was seasoned on the spot with drizzles of garlic oil and shavings of butter as they seared and hissed on the hibachi (Japanese for “fire bowl”). Meanwhile, Darwin stacked thick rings of onion and turned them into a firebreathing volcano. Yes, it’s a tired trick — but mesmerizing, in an unexpected way. Darwin slashed a knife through the onions and stir-fried them into a medley of cut broccoli, carrots and mushrooms.
Before this, he had flash-cooked three orders of fried rice, scrambling fresh-cracked eggs into the mix.
All the while, I watched my poor shrimp sizzle away, mounded near a corner of the grill. I was sure they’d be a rubbery mess by the time they hit my plate.
But so to the contrary, they proved to be moist and tender — and perfectly cooked. Ditto for the lobster, which was griddled and stuffed back into the shell, and the juicy bites of filet mignon. All were buttery and flavorful, needing neither of the dipping sauces supplied with our entrees.
Darwin’s hibachi show also rendered a fresh and fluffy fried rice and nicely crisp veggies.
As part of an evening special, the shrimp chicken combo, normally $21, included a full bottle of crisp Sterling Sauvignon Blanc for $32, a pretty good deal. Our party shared the wine for a fraction of the price it might have cost to order individual cocktails. Hokkaido
regularly offers nightly specials like this, although this particular special wasn’t available when I returned a couple of nights later.
There were different specials that night, and I opted for one of them. I enjoyed a spicy wahoo roll, normally $14, that arrived with a full bottle of Wente Cabernet Sauvignon for $26. This was another good deal, even though the nearly full bottle was packed to go with my leftovers at the end of the night. It was a nice cab for 13 bucks.
The wahoo roll was a large, hot rice roll stuffed with wahoo and bits of asparagus, fried crisp and drizzled with a sriracha chili cream sauce. Filling and well textured, this roll is easily an entrée.
The star dish of the night, however, was the spicy tuna tartar ($15), an appetizer described as “a work of art” on the menu. Indeed it was. A mound of fresh, raw, sriracha-bathed cubes of tuna was topped with a sesame-infused seaweed salad and paired with a fresh salad of marinated squid. Artfully presented with carved fruit, a pickled ginger flower and a wasabi “leaf,” this was one outstanding dish.
There are fine options here beyond the hibachi. And adding to our dining experience (on both nights) was Hokkaido’s stellar service. On both of my visits, the wait staff was friendly, knowledgeable and never too far. Water glasses were kept full. Empty plates were quickly cleared. It was a terrific display that went beyond the showy smoke and fire."
To all of you, from all of us at Hokkaido - Thank you!
Hokkaido Hibachi & Sushi