A delicious way to socialize with friends is sitting at the perimeter of a Japanese hibachi grill, watching a personable, knife-wielding chef quickly and efficiently prepare food to order.
One of the best practitioners in the business is Executive Chef Teddy Quinones of Nara Hibachi & Hot Rocks on West Maple Road in West Bloomfield. It’s the site of a former Shogun restaurant. Open since Sept. 25, Nara was named for a former Japanese capital city.
Chef Teddy developed the restaurant-lounge’s Asian fusion-inspired menu with his business partner, Chef Howie Barnes. A third partner, Stoli Liti, also is general manager of Prime29, the steakhouse across the street. Trina Gegovic is Nara’s general manager.
A scratch kitchen, Nara does its own butchering and hand-cutting of meat from Fairway Packing in Eastern Market. The USDA Prime beef undergoes a 29-day wet aging process.
The restaurant’s seafood is flown in from the East Coast. “It’s fresh — never frozen,” Chef Teddy said.
Dinner reservations at Nara start at 4 p.m., except for 2 on Sunday. Appetizers, soups, salads, sliders, sides and desserts are listed inside a blossom-adorned folded menu. The highlighted hibachi entrees are steak, filet mignon, chicken, scallops, salmon, lobster and calamari steak, plus vegetables with optional tofu. The “Double Up” pairs steak or chicken with another protein, while five “Triple Joy” combinations are available.
My recent hibachi meal began with a delightful beef-based, clear onion soup, with mushrooms, green onions and tiny onion rings, and Ginger Salad, including a creamy ginger dressing.
At the grill, Chef Teddy deftly chopped a medley of mushrooms, onions and zucchini and thin spaghetti. The main course was cooked next, including rice and two “complimentary” shrimp.
I had the best scallops of my life — seared, flavorful and the opposite of rubbery. My tender filet was properly seasoned and cooked perfectly. I tasted three sauces provided, but didn’t feel my food needed enhancement.
Yakitori is a personalized hot rock grilling experience. Diners grill skewers of their chosen protein on a natural volcanic stone heated to 824 degrees. That prime temperature allows each bite to remain hot. Two available meats include lamb chops and Angus ribeye. Yakitori Hot Rocks meals come with onion soup and French fries. A cart holding the hot rock can be moved anywhere in the dining area and also to the lounge or patio.
A Japanese-style roof covers the brick building’s entrance and part of the patio. The open-air side has woven chairs.
The partners worked with a designer to create Nara’s contemporary décor. Red accents the neutral color scheme. Look for panels of snow-topped mountains and bamboo in various-sized containers.
Nara Lounge, painted red, offers happy hour and special late-night appetizers and alcoholic beverages. I sipped chilled Hana Awake, a light-tasting, sparkling flower sake.
Remember this spacious, pretty venue for hosting private events and parties.
Nara Hibachi & Hot Rocks
5656 W. Maple Road,
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