BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK & HELEN KLEIN
As much an entertainment venue as a dining establishment, Arirang holds a unique place in the culinary landscape of Bay Ridge.
The hibachi restaurant – which opened in the neighborhood in 1993 – is a consistent favorite among lovers of Asian food, featuring sushi as well as the grilled specialties that are prepared at table.
It’s also a family favorite, because of the easy-going atmosphere, the theatrics of the tableside chefs, and the fact that even picky eaters are likely to enjoy the dramatically presented offerings, with chefs displaying pyrotechnics as well as stellar knife skills, juggling eggs with their large, flat-bladed knives, and launching little bits of food into waiting mouths just a couple of feet away.
“Children actually eat the food,” noted General Manager Daniel Guenther.
There have been changes since the eatery debuted, but Guenther stressed that they are incremental, with favorites given pride of place. Why mess with success? The restaurant experiments with special items, he explained; if they are popular, “They go on the menu and they stay.”
We sampled a few items from the expansive repertoire, starting with the Tempura Vegetables ($5.99) which was lightly battered and crispy, the varied vegetables perfectly al dente, and the California Roll ($4.79), which was the perfect combination of soft crabmeat, delectably fresh avocado and crunchy cucumber. Sweet and flavorful, the California Roll – a beginner’s dish, as the menu calls it – was a yummy preview to Arirang’s exciting repertoire of rolls.
Each of us enjoyed one of the Hibachi dinners, which began with bowls of elegant broth studded with caramelized onion and scallion rings, and also included a crispy house salad with an Asian-inflected dressing as well as a trio of shrimp cooked right in front of us on the hibachi which were sweet and tender.
Then it was time for the main event. One of us enjoyed the Chicken Yaki Soba ($18.99, including the above soup, salad and shrimp), pieces of chicken cooked on the hibachi with broccoli and cauliflower florets, crinkle-cut wedges of carrot, diagonally sliced baby corn chunks, and luscious soba noodles, slightly sweet thanks to the teriyaki sauce with which they are finished.
The pork – a full eight ounces – was our other entrée ($16.99, with the same pairings). As plump and tender as it was juicy and delicious, eat bite was complimented by fried rice ($2.99 additional), bits of mushrooms and savory greens. Each bite had us coming back for more.
Though we really didn’t have room, we couldn’t resist dessert: Fried Green Tea Ice Cream ($5.50). It was crisp outside, creamy within, with a delightful contrast in flavor as well as texture and temperature.
The evening that we dined there, we shared our table with a family out to celebrate the birthday of their 13-year-old son. “It’s a nice place,” noted dad Louis Argenciano. “It’s not ridiculously overpriced. The food is good and they are consistent.”
It’s also a place, Argenciano said, that he has brought his family for years, in part because the kids enjoy it so much.
How much? Arirang is “the best hibachi place in the five boroughs,” added his son, also Louis.
8814 Fourth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Monday-Thursday: 5-10 p.m.
Friday: 5-11 p.m.
Saturday: 4-11 p.m.
Sunday: 3-10 p.m.