Tokyo Samurai

Sushi, steak, bar draw regular customers

The interior done in high-tech style by a New York designer seems an unlikely atmosphere for a neighborhood gathering spot, but Tokyo Samurai has it down.

"We know many of our customers by name," said co-owner Aaron Nguyen. "And many of our customers know each other. People like to sit at the bar—they say it's like 'Cheers.' "

The sushi and hibachi grill in Colleyville Town Center opened in December 2011. Nguyen, 26, co-owns the restaurant with Jiang Chu, 32.

"In the beginning, we were worried about business because we were far from the highway," Nguyen said. "But as time grew, our customers increased, mainly coming from the neighborhood."

He doubles as bartender some nights and hears customers making plans to meet later in the week for sake and sushi. "Sometimes they turn to me and say, 'And you better be tending bar!' "

The lacquered black bar and sushi bar overlook an intimate dining room decorated with colorful lanterns. Japanese music plays in the background. Tables and booths are set with black linen napkins.

Diners can choose from Japanese cuisine or order from the sushi bar.

The four hibachi grills are in an adjacent room.

Nguyen said both hibachi and sushi are popular.

"We have a lot of regulars who come in three or four times a week. They switch off between sushi and hibachi. Sometimes they just come for a drink and sushi or an appetizer," he said.

The dining room/sushi bar is the quieter choice. The beverage selection includes Japanese beers as well as sake to go along with a meal.

As with most hibachi grills, this one provides both entertainment and dinner.

Guests can choose from vegetables, beef, chicken and shrimp on the grill. All meals come with steamed rice. Fried rice is available for $2 more.

While customers enjoy the miso soup and shrimp appetizer, the hibachi chef, wearing a red toque, brings in the ingredients and the show begins.

The hibachi chefs, Nguyen said, have extensive training.

"They start in the kitchen, learning from a master chef," he said.

They must learn food preparation, cooking and the art of the performance, which includes making music by tapping on the grill with spoons and spatulas, talking to the customers and telling jokes.

Chefs also toss food samples into customers' mouths, sometimes missing the target.

Nguyen said four of the 15 kitchen employees are hibachi chefs.

Birthday parties around the hibachi grill are popular because party guests can sit around one table. Toyko Samurai provides adequate embarrassment: The chef serenades the birthday celebrant as a waiter beats a drum.

From the bar

House hot sake, small order, $4; large, $7 Thursday is Dollar Sake Night.

Imported Japanese beer (such as Kirin and Sapporo), $4.50

Most mixed drinks are priced around $9, but during Happy Hour they are $5. Happy "Hour" runs all day Sunday through Thursday.

Sushi entrees

(served with miso soup and rice)

Tokyo Sashimi—five pieces each of tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi, $22.50

Sushi Regular—12 pieces sushi and salmon roll, $15

Sushi to go—rolls are cut into five to eight pieces

Colleyville Roll—pink seaweed, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and avocado served with spicy mayo, $13

Samurai Roll—tuna, yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, salmon, tempura flakes, scallions and masago, $13

Hibachi

(served with the Japanese house soup and salad, stir-fried vegetables, two shrimp and steamed rice. Fried rice may be substituted for $1.95.)

Options include vegetables, shrimp, salmon, filet mignon, chicken, scallops, red snapper, lobster, calamari, tuna or a combination of these ingredients.

Prices vary. A single hibachi item typically runs about $16.

Tokyo Samurai, 5645 Colleyville Blvd., Ste. 100, Colleyville, 817-281-8999, www.supertokyosamurai.com

Hours: 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs.; 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.; noon–9:30 p.m. Sun.