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2/28/2008
Say Konnichiwa to Asaki
The Japanese steakhouse opens in the Back Mountain
By Lisa Sokolowski

A simple question greets you at the door of Asaki: Do you want to sit in a booth or by the hibachi grill?

The answer is even easier. If you don't pick the hibachi, you're missing the show.

Hibachi began as a way to heat Japanese homes, but it's been Americanized to (roughly) mean a way of cooking cuisine on a hot plate in front of patrons.

Bobby Chan, a Kingston-resident by way of Hong Kong and Harrisburg, opened Asaki in the Back Mountain Shopping Plaza on Dec. 29. It's a sister restaurant to Chan's brother's Asian Cafe in Wilkes-Barre.

The Chans ran Chinese restaurants in the past, but this is the first all-Japanese cuisine endeavor.

Asaki's hibachi grills are manned by chefs who double as entertainers. From displaying a "Japanese egg roll" (a way of juggling a raw egg on a spatula) to pouring saki from the squirt bottle straight into a customer's mouth, the cooks/comedians keep your attention.

As great as the performance is (who doesn't love a show that involves fire?), the food is even betterA hibachi lunch comes with soup, green salad, and fried rice. Entree options aren't limited; there's chicken, filet mignon or New York steak, salmon, scallops, shrimp, or vegetables.

The freshness of these products is why Asaki stands out.

"We drive out to pick up our fish in Philadelphia in wholesale, and we serve it the next day," Chan said.

Chan cuts out the distributor - which could have fish sitting on ice for goodness knows how long. Personal trips to the wholesaler eliminate the guessing game.

Hibachi isn't the only option for a filling lunch. There are bento boxes filled with teriyaki and tempura options (served with green salad, shumai, white rice, a California roll, and soup).

And, of course, there's sushi, served with soup or salad. There are nine options for a sushi lunch combo, but there are 39 individual rolls listed on the menu.

Whatever you choose, make sure to save room for dessert (even if that means taking half your lunch home in a to-go box). The fried ice cream is incredible. A scoop of ice cream is wrapped in pound cake and deep fried in a tempura batter, resulting it the perfect balance of crisp and sweetness. Plus, with a few squirts of whipped cream and a cherry, you can't go wrong.

Email Lisa

Asaki
162 Memorial Highway, Shavertown
Phone: 570-674-5933
Hours: Monday to Thursday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday noon-9:30 p.m.