Tokyo II: Hibachi comes to the city at last…

When I was young, my favorite thing to do for my birthday was to go to a Japanese hibachi grill. I was fascinated by the chefs who would chop food at the speed of light, while tossing eggs in the air before breaking them on knives. The sound of the sizzling grill and the flames… I would go once a year until I finally ‘outgrew’ the theatrical dinner. It wasn’t until last week when I realized that I had not actually outgrown my love of hibachi. A friend called me up and told me that a Japanese restaurant had opened in the former iHop restaurant on Delaware Avenue… and they had hibachi grills. I wasn’t quite sure what to say when he told me the news other than, “OK, I guess it sounds interesting.”

Upon arrival to Tokyo II, I was actually impressed with what could have been a transitional disaster. After all, how do you transform an iHop successfully? From the outside it didn’t look half bad. What really shocked me was the interior. It looked nothing like what I had expected. It was filled with all sorts of nicely lit features, including a waiting room, sushi bar, tatami banquet rooms, hibachi grills, and a bar. While I waited for my guest, I headed to the bar to engage the ‘bartendress’ whose name was Ryan. After settling down to a sake, Ryan and a manager by the name of ‘B’ began pouring sake bombs and tequila shots. They were still celebrating the grand opening of the restaurant and were more than happy to spread good cheer. 
Once my friend arrived, we headed over one of the hibachi grills and waited for our server to arrive. While we browsed the menu, a bit of my old childhood anticipation crept over me. I found myself looking forward to our chef’s arrival… this was going to be fun. When I finally placed my order with the waitress I told her that I wanted hibachi shrimp and salmon with noodles. My friend ordered the hibachi chicken and fried rice. We also ordered a few pieces of sushi for good luck. Before we knew it our chef was upon us, putting on a show just as lively as I remembered from my youth. He made some sort of flaming volcano out of onions, caught something in his hat, chopped the hell out of everything in sight, and engaged us with friendly banter. 
chef-tokyo-2-Buffalo-NY.jpg
I find it funny that I don’t really remember anything from the hibachi days of my youth other than the thrill of the spectacle. That’s why I was so surprised to find that the food was so delicious. Honestly. I was really happy with the way the shrimp was cooked, and was impressed with the smoky flavor, the freshness of the veggies, and the texture of the noodles. I tried some of the fried rice too – something that I gave up long ago because it never did anything for me. This time I couldn’t get enough of it, especially once I had mixed it all together with the remaining sauce that was on my plate. All in all I couldn’t have asked for better food or a more enjoyable experience. The only thing I would change would be the music – listening to Bryan Adams’ style rock ‘n roll for a couple of hours was enough to make me want to stick my ears on the hibachi grill. I was also disappointed to see Chilean sea bass on the menu (seafood watch).
Tokyo II, like its counterpart on Elmwood, Tokyo Shanghai Bistro (the original Elmwood location has half price sushi on Tuesdays) is locally owned. I was happy to learn that the owners from the Elmwood restaurant had taken over a location of the fallen chain. Tokyo II is a great addition to the city’s restaurant choices. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the hibachi experience – and since I had replaced the hibachi with the sushi experience, I was even happier to encounter both food options at the restaurant (along with some Thai). If you have kids, hibachi is a lot of fun and there’s a shortlist for them to choose from. Hibachi is also perfect for date night due to the interactive nature of the performance as well as the social seating arrangement. 
Instead of looking at hibachi dining as just an event, for the first time I’m looking at it as alternative lunch and dinner choice. Thankfully it’s close to home and back on my radar. 
Tokyo II
2236 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo NY 14216
716-877-2688
Open 7 days a week – check website for hours.
Tokyo-2-Buffalo-NY.jpg
 

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

10 comments
moonqueen
moonqueen

I LOVE this place. I was so happy to see the old iHop building get a new life. The atmosphere, service and food here are excellent. I only live about two miles away and I've been several times since their opening. I've enjoyed sushi and Thai at the regular tables as well as hibachi,appetizers and dessert (hello fried cheesecake). Everything has been very fresh and flavorful, with decent sized portions. I am looking forward to a bday event their tomorrow. Definitely a place worth checking out...again and again.

sandy
sandy

Just returned from a delightful dinner at Tokyo II on Delaware Ave. in North Buffalo. The four of us all had an hibachi selection and we all were impressed. For $25 you got soup, salad ( so-so) shrimp appetizer, tenderloin and a seafood selection. We got either shrimp or scallops. The show was great, very funny squirting sake in you mouth...great ice breaker! Talented chefs working the giant grill in front of 8 place settings. The place was pretty full for a Wed. night and everyone was in a party mood. Great entertainment for kids and they did a nice job on the interior. I know I will go again and spread the word. Fun evening. It would be a good first date place as so much is going on there would be no conversation lapses.

Julie Lisbon
Julie Lisbon

Maybe I went on an off night. Not worth the cost. Inexperienced staff, tacky decor, less than desirable crowd, kids running around, crying babies, chef misses plate when serving food from the hibachi. They do try very hard, but not much better than going to a fast food joint. I hate having to write this, but someone will thank me for it.

okcheckitout
okcheckitout

The music in most restaurants is too loud and distracting.

queenseyes
queenseyes

I'm going there again tomorrow and I'll ask. Is there a certificate or license that they would have posted, or can anyone just say that the fish is MSC certified?

BuffaloIrish15
BuffaloIrish15

Went there prob 2 weeks agao maybe.....Lovvved it! many dif styles of asian cuisine!!

BuffaloBeaux
BuffaloBeaux

I love Tokyo Shanghai on Elmwood, so I'll have to try this place out. Now we just have to fill that empty Don Pablo's (I think it was a Don Pablo's) on Elmwood in the Regal Parking lot.

EWvillager
EWvillager

I totally agree with you on the music. I checked out their website and the music on it is just as awful.

CindyLee
CindyLee

Yes you are right... the quality of the food might escape a child's notice.... it simply does not get any better. The quality of the foods, especially the meats and seafoods, is incomparable! I also grew up eating at a hibachi style restaurant... I'd actually pick cities to visit that hosted a Benihana's.... I'm giddy knowing I don't have to go to Sheridan or Transit anymore to get in on this! Maybe we can pay them to change their music selection to something else... even traditional Japanese music would be an improvement :)

© 2014 Hyperlocal Media. All Rights Reserved.
40 carrots skin care cleanser osmosis skin care ingredients amazon philosophy skin care products best anti ageing products in india scar cream walmart skin care heaven spa carlsbad dermasil lotion reviews