Often when deciding where to go out to dinner, we consider the atmosphere just as much as the food. Are we in the mood for a quiet, quaint spot ideal for romantic or private conversations? Or do we seek a more vivacious vibe with lots of boisterous energy, laughter and fun? Rarely can you get both sides of that coin at the same restaurant, but such is the case at Nori Japanese Steakhouse, where they offer two different dine-in opportunities.
“One side of the restaurant is for hibachi where chefs prepare the food in front of you on teppanyaki grills,” says Owner Hui Zheng. “The other side is regular seating that is good for date nights or when you want a quiet dinner. Though you can still order hibachi on the quiet side of the restaurant, it’s cooked in the back rather than in front of you.”
Your chosen side depends on the ambiance you are interested in. Diners who gather at a hibachi grill can watch their fresh steaks, chicken and seafood grilled to perfection.
“Not only can you enjoy your food, but also, by sitting with other people at the same table, you can make new friends,” Zheng says.
With fresh sushi, quality ingredients and signature sauces, guests enjoy an unforgettable dining experience no matter where they are seated.
“We invite people to come sit at our sushi bar and enjoy your sushi made right in front of your eyes,” Zheng says. “Also be sure to ask your sushi chef for any specials that aren’t on the menu.”
Hibachi is popular for birthday parties and other celebrations. The business is also always fully booked on prom nights, as it’s a fun place to go for a meal before the dance. In addition, they have a private room that can accommodate up to 60 people.
A local, family-owned and -operated business, Nori Japanese Steakhouse is run by Zheng, a seasoned professional whose family runs three other locations in Ohio.
“We’re from Ohio so we have restaurants in Columbus, Toledo and Lima,” Zheng says. “I picked this location after visiting Westfield last year and seeing what a great and growing area it is. Westfield is really nice, and so I decided to move here and open a fourth location.”
Nori Japanese Steakhouse, which opened in late February, spans 6,000 square feet and offers seating for 180 people. Each hibachi table seats 18. When the weather warms, there is additional seating available on the patio. Zheng describes the atmosphere as modern and cozy – less traditional than his other three locations. Zheng is thrilled to be opening another location because he enjoys working with his employees, whom he considers family.
“I feel so comfortable working with these people,” Zheng says. “It feels like my whole day is energized by working in the restaurant business. Plus, I personally love food.”
Favorite menu items include the Buckeye roll, which has king crab mix, avocado and mango, topped with a seared, shredded tuna in eel sauce with spicy mayo. Another popular signature item is the Godzilla roll, which eel fans particularly enjoy.
“It tastes like barbecue chicken but has shrimp tempura and crab stick topped with eel, avocado in eel sauce, and tobiko,” Zheng says. For anyone who is hesitant to eat raw fish, he recommends the Friend roll, which has crab stick, shrimp, cream cheese and avocado, in eel sauce with spicy and sweet mayo.
“With the Friend roll, everything is cooked as the whole sushi roll is deep fried,” Zheng says. “Those are the three most popular signature rolls that we sell.”
The menu also includes rice noodles, egg noodles and fried rice, as well as appetizers like lobster rangoon, Japanese spring rolls, yum yum chicken, and lollipop shrimp.
In the near future, the leaders at Nori Japanese Steakhouse plan to start offering lunch specials and happy hours, as they have a full bar service as well. One day per week they will have wine nights, and on hibachi nights they’ll offer buy-one-get-one-half-off sushi nights.
“We will also have certain nights where it’s buy one meal and your kid’s meal will be free,” Zheng says. Down the road they also plan to offer catering and events.
Nori Japanese Steakhouse is located at 3400 Nancy Street, Suite E in Westfield. For more information, call 317-763-9903 or visit noriwestfield.com.