According to Amy Ng, manager of Miyako Japanese Hibachi and Sushi Bar (1403 St. Charles Ave., 504-410-9997; www.miyakonola.com), miyako means "metropolitan" or "capital" in Japanese. With its view of streetcars trundling up and down St. Charles Avenue, the name seems to reflect the location — but this is just a happy accident. The restaurant opened in Metairie more than 10 years ago and moved to St. Charles Avenue in 2003, where the staff serves traditional Japanese fare, steaks and sushi made from locally sourced fresh fish.
Dinner can come with a show, Ng says. Many items are cooked hibachi style on a special iron grill surrounded by diners. "[Chefs] prepare the meal like a show, playing with the spatula, making an onion volcano, throwing eggs and entertaining [customers] while they're eating," Ng says. This spectacle has a benefit in addition to its entertainment value: "[Customers] don't have to worry about when their food will be ready or if it will be cold," Ng says.
The show also makes for a family-friendly dining experience. "Hibachi is good for all ages," says Ng, who once hosted 50 members of a senior home at the restaurant. "They had never heard of [hibachi] before," she says. There's also a children's menu. Hibachi options range from steak and lobster to shrimp and chicken — or vegetarians can request vegetables only.
For a more traditional dining option, guests can sit at a table or at the sushi bar. Groups can also book a party room for a private hibachi experience. The space features two connected grills and is available for business meetings, birthdays, baby showers and graduations. "We can accommodate any occasion," Ng says.
In addition to table-grilled food, the restaurant offers sushi and traditional Japanese entrees and sides, plus a full bar with cocktail offerings ranging from the Miyako Chokotini (coconut run, Frangelico and chocolate) to the Kamikaze (vodka, Triple Sec and lime juice). Lunch specials include bento boxes and sushi rolls.
Ng says the restaurant's theatrical approach to Japanese fare and its large dining area keep customers coming back. "It is very spacious, not crowded, and it is a pretty open space here," Ng says. "[Chefs and servers] try to meet customer expectations and provide a unique dining experience for everybody to remember."