The hibachi experience is a communal one. It begins once the chairs around your particular grill are filled with patrons and from the moment you receive the hot wet towel and your chef bangs the ceremonial “gong of commencement,” you realize you’re not just in for a meal, but a show.
A quality hibachi experience minimally entails three elements: (1) a hilarious and expertly skilled chef who does tricks and has charm; (2) tender, juicy meats that, even though they are cooked at very high temperatures, are just right when served; and (3) the formation of new friendships with others you meet that night who are enjoying the hibachi experience alongside you. Stony Brook's new restaurant, Kumo, delivers on all three and more.
The service at Kumo is personalized to meet the requests of all comers. The portions are sizable, food cooked to perfection, the drinks imaginative beyond those of an upcoming Manhattan bar. Best of all, the dining service and ambience is conducive to quality socializing. I had a first class meal.
Décor and Atmosphere: Kumo features deliberately dimmed blue lights to just the right levels in just the key places. The eclectically painted walls are embellished with elegant, catchy, magnetically appealing wall reliefs that make you think you’re on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Despite the daring combinations of color everywhere, the art and furniture are laid out to make you feel as though you have plenty of space. Both the restaurant and bar give off a kind of urban feel that exudes the sense that one is dining right where the action is. I especially recommending going to Kumo when you're in a bad mood. You will be in a good mood when you leave.
Drinks: No matter what you order to drink (and you can’t go wrong) the enjoyment of your beverage will be punctuated by your chef supplying you with intermittent sake shots squeezed out of a giant condiment bottle until you can’t hold anymore. The house sake is good, not the cheap stuff. The cocktails at Kumo are creative, often containing not your typical juices or liquor brands, and resembling the colors of the first ten crayons in Crayola’s “super-terrific” premium line.
Appetizers: Absolutely, unequivocally first rate and, as with the drinks, inventive. Believe it or not, Kumo is a place to go to get onion soup – in which you'll detect irresistible traces of miso and cilantro. The tartare pepper tuna fajitas ($9.95) include perfectly prepared ahi, homemade guacamole, and spicy tomatoes and peppers. The cherry Chilean sea bass ($11.95) was to die for.
Entrees: As previously noted, a stellar hibachi experience hinges on high quality meat. Here Kumo benefits from its location on Long Island, where serious restaurant goers don’t suffer skimpy, half-fresh cuts. But Kumo goes a step beyond with the ingredients: the filet mignon, for example, is the highest grade Angus Steak. It is simply mind boggling how Kumo can charge only $29.95 for a filet mignon and lobster hibachi combination, only $21.95 (non filet cut) or $24.95 (filet cut) for steak and either chicken, scallops, or salmon. I combined my filet mignon with salmon, sampled the scallops, and loved it all. All hibachi entrees come with that scrumptious onion soup, a green salad with chef’s special dressing, a yummy hibachi shrimp appetizer, grilled veggies, and either white rice, fried rice, or noodles. Hibachi is the reason to go to Kumo but the restaurant also has a full sushi as well as tempura menu – all first rate.
Dessert: Again, lots from which to choose. For dessert I had deep fried banana and ice cream which was more than I could finish. Tempura banana is the eighth delight of the modern world. Other options include Ultimate Chocolate Cake, Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, Cheesecake Factory’s "The Original," and Key Lime Pie.
Service: The service was all around excellent, but hibachi is all about the chef. Our chef, "Jackey Chan," was a character and had character. He could take care of eight complicated full menus at once and all the while stop to give each of us “extras” as well as provide voluminous sake shots, juggle, and make impressive animal balloons. His facility with fire alone should win him some kind of award. Glancing around, I could see our chef was no exception.
Location: 2548 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook
Vibe: Chic and upscale, yet still family friendly