Doug Nguyen, the chef and owner of Wasabi in Nyack and Wasabi Chi in South Norwalk, will open a third restaurant in December in New City called Wasabi Grill. Heâ€™s taking over the spot where Maiko II is currently. Heâ€™ll shut down, renovate and re-open in December as a hibachi restaurant â€” but with a twist.
Rather than a cavernous hibachi restaurant with big communal tables sporting huge grills, his chefs will do all the hibachi cooking behind a bar, which will seat 12 people. The griddle will be just two feet wide, which is plenty enough to allow chefs to entertain with fancy knife skills and flying food, Nguyen says.
â€œWeâ€™re going to bring back the 80s,â€ he laughs.
Cooking behind the bar means that people wonâ€™t have to wait for a big table to fill up before the chef will start cooking, says Nguyen. People who want to sit at tables â€” there will be about 70 seats in the restaurant â€” may still order from the hibachi menu; waitstaff will deliver their dishes, piping hot, on cast-iron plates.
There will also be bento box dining. A typical entree might include grilled shrimp with spicy yuzu sauce, lo mein, dumplings and salmon or chicken teryiaki.
The restaurant will be decorated in earth tones of brown and eggshell, and there will be light wood tables and dark wood chairs.
Maiko II has a special meaning for Nguyen. It was one of his first restaurant jobs as a teenager.
â€œI washed dishes there,â€ he says. â€œAnd first learned to make sushi.â€
With entrees $20 and under, heâ€™s gearing the restaurant toward families. He opens to open before Christmas.
Wasabi Grill, 195 S. Main St., New City. No phone yet.