Restaurant traffic was steady on a Friday night at Osaka with college students, families, date-nighters.

Dining solo, I was happy to join a party of four en route to the hibachi grill.

Our waitress let us know the sushi bar had several orders ahead of us. I still went with the chicken hibachi dinner and a smoked salmon sushi roll.

Hibachi dinner prices range from $13.95 for vegetarian to $31.95 for lobster tail. Each comes with clear soup, shrimp appetizer, fried rice, noodles and veggies.

A flame burst high above a nearby grill, and my neighbors and I shared a “Was that intentional?” expression.

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We slurped bowls of clear soup as we waited for our show to start. Pieces of floating mushroom and scallions speckle the hot soup. Each bite packed with flavor, this is the best clear soup I’ve had.

Our chef wheeled out the cart with our portioned ingredients, confirmed our orders and got to work.

Our chef hummed to himself as he worked, balancing an egg on a spatula, quick and loud tool-handling maneuvers, and the immortal onion volcano at Osaka in Duluth on July 8, 2021. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
Our chef hummed to himself as he worked, balancing an egg on a spatula, quick and loud tool-handling maneuvers, and the immortal onion volcano at Osaka in Duluth on July 8, 2021. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

Ordering a hibachi meal is as much about performance as it is the food. It’s also cooking ASMR to the Nth degree, with the clink of the metal, the chopping of vegetables, the sizzling of the butter and the food on the grill.

Our chef hummed to himself as he worked, balancing an egg on a spatula, quick and loud tool-handling maneuvers, and the immortal onion volcano.

He then plated our noodles first, then the rice and broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, the shrimp and the chicken. I nibbled, practicing restraint.

My meal came with citrusy yum yum sauce and a fresh-tasting ginger sauce — both exquisite but they were only enhancements; this meal requires nothing.

The chicken and shrimp were juicy and melty in the mouth. The fried rice and noodles were made with quality ingredients cooked to buttery, garlicky perfection.

The table’s sushi arrived after the hibachi show. The smoked salmon roll was standard with fresh-tasting nori; the soy sauce, a bit on the saltier side.

I paid for my meal at the bar and saw that the dining area had grown fuller. I walked past pics of smiling customers lining the entryway, sharing their sentiment.

Osaka in Duluth has a mix of sushi. This is their smoked salmon sushi roll. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
Osaka in Duluth has a mix of sushi. This is their smoked salmon sushi roll. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

Osaka

5115 Burning Tree Road

218-727-3222

osakaduluthinc.com