Teppanyaki vs. Hibachi: Comparing the 2 Popular Japanese Grilling Styles

Teppanyaki and Hibachi are two popular Japanese grilling styles with key differences: heat source, menu options, focus, cooking style, and history.

teppanyaki vs hibachi Teppanyaki vs. Hibachi: Comparing the 2 Popular Japanese Grilling Styles

The Teppanyaki and Hibachi grill styles are intriguing Japanese cooking techniques often used in different restaurants. But do you know the difference?

While both techniques involve grilling food, the two share a few common features but are also quite different. As people embrace cuisines from other countries, learning about the cooking technique adds to your brilliant experience whenever you visit a Japanese restaurant.

There are approximately 25,000 Japanese restaurants in the US, and all have a standard method they use to prepare grilled food. Read on for more insight into Teppanyaki vs Hibachi grilling style differences.

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What is Teppanyaki?

Grill chicken wings and thighs with vegetables on a hot plate. An image of a dinner menu that you can enjoy with your family around the iron plate.

In Japanese, ‘Teppan’ stands for ‘metal plate’ while ‘Yaki’ means ‘Panfried, boiled or grilled.’ The two names combined make up Teppanyaki, a famous grilling style used in many Japanese restaurants.

Teppanyaki is a unique type of grilling where the chef prepares delicious meals on a hot flat iron plate in front of guests. Teppanyaki chefs are revered for their prowess and the ease with which they flawlessly prepare food on a hot surface without fear or breaking a sweat.

This technique is ideal for preparing fan favorites like grilled vegetables, rice noodles, onion volcanoes, shrimp tails, beef, chicken, and more.

What is Hibachi?

Serving hibachi of rice, shrimp, steak and vegetables served with sauce closeup in a plate on the table. Horizontal top view from above

‘Hibachi’ is a Japanese term that means ‘fire bowl.’ The Hibachi grilling technique entails grilling food over a metal mesh where the food comes into contact with direct flames. It’s much like the traditional American barbeque grilling.

This technique is ideal for preparing vegetables, meat, and seafood with direct heat over an open metal grill/grate.

Teppanyaki vs. Hibachi – Key Differences

Teppanyaki and Hibachi grill techniques are popular in Japanese restaurants. Below are the major differences between the two grilling techniques.

Heat Source

The Teppanyaki grilling technique uses propane or gas fuel as the primary heat source to heat the metal surface on which the food will be prepared.

The chef cuts huge slices of meat and vegetables, preparing various meals on the broad metal plate separately before mixing them when it’s ready to serve. Many people love food made using the Teppanyaki grilling style because it’s more flavorful and juicy.

Conversely, Hibachi uses charcoal or wood as the primary heat source preferred for grilling your favorite food.

Most restaurants and patrons prefer the Hibachi grilling experience because the food is excellent, and you can take part in grilling your own food.

Menu

The Teppanyaki grilling style is better suited for preparing steak and seafood. Hibachi grilling is less restrictive, and one can prepare almost any type of dish using this style.

Hibachi grills can be used to make different types of food on one grill, while Teppanyaki grilling plates are often used to prepare one item at a time.

Focus

Teppanyaki grilling is found in more upscale Japanese restaurants, while Hibachi grilling is ideal for the diner looking for a casual yet affordable experience.

Most Japanese restaurants have specially made tables with hibachi grills at the center where different food is cooked. Under the watchful eye of a chef, visitors can participate in preparing their own food.

On the other hand, Teppanyaki grilling is revered mainly for its entertainment value. Hibachi chefs are famous for pulling stunts to show off their culinary skills, flipping ingredients and utensils in front of the guests.

Cooking Style

The Teppanyaki grilling style has a metal barrier keeping the food from coming into direct contact with the flame. In contrast, Hibachi grilling uses a metal grate to cook food over an open flame.

Teppanyaki chefs must be super careful in monitoring the temperature while cooking to ensure the food is neither overcooked nor undercooked. Teppanyaki food is super delicious and juicy.

Hibachi grilling allows the chef to be more creative, using the flare to prepare food to suit the patron’s taste. Food prepared using this technique can seem dry and smoky.  You can have dipping sauce with your food to make your experience pleasant.

History

No clear evidence shows precisely when the Teppanyaki grilling technique was discovered. However, the method has been around for hundreds of years since the early 1900s and has been the go-to grilling technique for Japanese families who love cooking together.

Hibachi grilling has existed far longer than the Teppanyaki style and is said to date back to the Heian era between 794 and 1185.

The Hibachi technique is slowly making its way into real estate as more people incorporate Hibachi-style grills into their modern-day homes.

Nonetheless, both grilling techniques offer a welcome peek into Japanese cuisine and cooking styles. Hungry patrons can enjoy the experience of watching the chefs prepare their meals and, after that, indulge in sumptuous meals.

Why do Americans call teppanyaki hibachi?

There are different opinions on why Americans call teppanyaki hibachi, but one possible reason is that the first Japanese restaurants that introduced teppanyaki-style cooking in the U.S. used the term “hibachi” to attract customers who were familiar with the traditional charcoal grills. Another possible reason is that Americans confused the two terms because they both involve grilling food over an open flame.

What is teppanyaki called in America?

Teppanyaki is usually called hibachi in America, although this is technically incorrect. Teppanyaki refers to a cooking style that uses a flat iron griddle to grill food, while hibachi refers to a cooking style that uses a round metal bowl or stove with a grate to grill food over charcoal¹. Some restaurants may use the term “Japanese steakhouse” or “Japanese grill” instead of hibachi to avoid confusion.

Is Benihana and Hibachi the same thing?

Benihana is a restaurant chain that specializes in teppanyaki-style cooking, which is often mistakenly called hibachi in America. Benihana chefs prepare food on large steel tables with propane flames in front of the guests, showcasing their knife and grilling skills. Hibachi is a different cooking style that uses charcoal as a heating source and a round metal bowl or stove with a grate.

What is the difference between teppanyaki and teriyaki?

Teppanyaki is a cooking style that uses a flat iron griddle to grill food, while teriyaki is a sauce or marinade that is made with soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and other ingredients. Teriyaki can be used to flavor various dishes, including grilled ones, but it is not exclusive to teppanyaki. Teppanyaki dishes can be seasoned with different sauces, such as soy sauce, butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, etc.

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