by Linda Viertel
Tarrytown’s former TGI Friday location is now home to Nikko Hibachi•Sushi•Lounge, a grand transformation that took place in late February. This sparkling new restaurant provides customers with a full range of sushi, sashimi and teriyaki offerings, in addition to the always entertaining choice of hibachi style cooking, not to mention a lively bar scene. The atmosphere is festive, too, with exterior colored lights and glossy interior surfaces suggesting the best of Miami or an ocean cruise.
Owner/Manager Ken Chen and his partner, sushi chef Lendy Chen, both Tarrytown residents, are seasoned restaurateurs. Ken managed the Nikko• Hibachi• Sushi• Bar in Fresh Meadows, New Jersey for several years, and Lendy honed his skills as a sushi chef in Manhattan for 12 years. Together, they know the business well.
Watching your dinner being prepared in front of you is one of the most pleasurable features of dining at Japanese restaurants. So, snagging a seat at Lendy’s sushi bar gives the diner a close- up on gleaming filets of fish just waiting for the chef’s deft touch: watch him neatly slice your seafood choice, scoop up and shape sticky rice, and arrange sushi on the plate with a flourish.
Hibachi style cooking involves even more theatrical flair, elaborate knife skills, and plety of fire, as Nikko’s hibachi chefs perform their cooking in front of diners seated at tables in which gas-heated iron griddles are integrated into the table construction. Diners, often multiple parties coming together to enjoy “the show,” delight in seeing the volcano-shaped stack of raw onion hoops lit on fire, knives flipped in the air, or shrimp skittering across the hotplate. Chicken, salmon, scallops, steak, lobster, even an all-veggie hibachi choice, are cooked to order before your very eyes. Kids are never antsy at a hibachi table: they are mesmerized!
The Chens’ fish is delivered fresh every day, and often Lendy visits the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx to personally select his seafood. His signature dishes include a spicy tuna or salmon salad (diced tuna or salmon with avocado, cucumber, and seaweed, dressed in a tangy mayo sauce); a yellowtail jalapeno appetizer; and his Three Musketeers Roll. With 14 rolls to choose from, picking a favorite can be a challenge. But the Three Musketeers is his unique and popular creation: spicy tuna, salmon and yellowtail are wrapped in soy paper -no rice in this roll – then topped with more tuna, salmon, yellowtail and all bathed in an avocado, Yuzu (citrus-based) dressing.
Nikko’s offers a selection of fried rice dishes, noodle soups (udon or soba), pad thai, and teriyaki dinners in addition to their vast array of classic and hand rolls offerings. Appetizers include lightly fried soft shell crab, fried calamari, Japanese spring or duck rolls, or “Rocky Shrimp” – tempura shrimp tossed in a spicy cream sauce. Kids always enjoy mozarella sticks as well as other child-friendly choices from the kids menu.
Assortments of sushi and sashmi combos abound at Nikko, a la carte or as an entree served with fragrant miso soup. An assortment of bento boxes is offered as well. But, If you feel adventurous, try the Omakase (chef’s choice), and you will be treated to whatever specialties Lendy’s sushi masters would like to prepare for you. Depending upon that day’s premium seafood, the chef’s special skills, and your individual taste, Omakase dining can be the most memorable way to enjoy a Japanese dinner.
And, don’t forget Nikko’s compelling selection of eight sakes or the beautifully styled and colorful signature cocktails. Seven martini choices are on hand, or try the Scorpion Bowl for 2 (if you dare). Happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 7, offers $3 draft beer, $5 cocktails and wine, plus selected appetizers for $4 and special rolls for $9. A lively lounge scene and a bargain all in one!
The Chens have wanted to open a restaurant in their village for a long time. And, now that they have achieved their dream, “We are so happy to be able to provide our culture’s cuisine to our community at reasonable, family-friendly prices, and with plenty of parking available!” they said.