A1 Japan Steakhouse Review: Fun, inexpensive experience with lots of tasty food

I counted no less than five birthday celebrations on our visit to A1 Japan Steakhouse. They’re kind of hard to miss. A procession of staff marches to the table led by a famous cartoon mouse banging a drum. Every performance was met with cheers and laughter.

A1 Japan Steakhouse: 4.3/5 stars
Taste: 3.5/5 stars. Tasty, but some items could use a bit more flavor.
Service: 5/5 stars. A great show from the chef.
Ambiance: 4/5 stars. An overall nice space but noisy and in need of a little TLC.
Concept: 4/5 stars. Nothing unique, but hibachi is always lots of fun.
Pricing: 5/5 stars. An excellent price for excellent food.

I counted no less than five birthday celebrations on our visit to A1 Japan Steakhouse.

They’re kind of hard to miss. A procession of staff marches to the table led by a famous cartoon mouse banging a drum. Every performance was met with cheers and laughter.

I can see why A1 attracts so many revelers, even on a cold winter weeknight. We opted for hibachi and had a fun, inexpensive experience with plenty of tasty food.

This wasn’t my first visit to A1—I’d grabbed sushi and dinner with friends in the past and loved it—but it was my first time trying the hibachi.

We opted to start with an order of harumaki, Japanese spring rolls stuffed with veggies ($4). They were crisp and well made, but needed to be dipped in sauce to have much of a taste.

We also shared a tempura shrimp roll ($5.50). I was surprised by the size—pieces were almost too large to pick up with chopsticks—but I’m not complaining. This was delicious with big, crunchy pieces of shrimp and lots of flavor from the other components.

The hibachi dinner includes clear soup and a side salad. Clear soup typically can be pretty bland, but this was flavorful and satisfying on such a cold night. The salad had your typical ginger dressing, which I enjoy, and the lettuce was fresh and crunchy.

I opted for Hibachi chicken ($17) and my husband, Dave, opted for New York strip steak ($20).

Our chef was delayed getting to our table, but worth the wait. He put on a great show, juggling eggs, flipping pieces of rice into diners mouths and creating an impressive onion volcano.

The meal came with a ton of food—fried rice, noodles, shrimp and a pile of meat and veggies. We had leftovers for days.
The meat was delicious well cooked—Dave in particular had an ideal medium-rare steak. And the veggies were perfect with just the right amount of crispness.

The flavors are a bit homogeneous, which makes sense because they’re all cooked together, so I appreciated the sides of dipping sauce.

I enjoyed the rice and noodles at the time, but they didn’t fare as well when reheated. The saltiness in both was a bit overwhelming.

I headed back to A1 for a solo lunch.

Broccoli is, no joke, one of my favorite foods so I had to order A1’s Garlic Broccoli appetizer ($4.75). It was excellent. The broccoli was crisp and seemed roasted, with nicely charred edges. It paired well with the garlic sauce. I couldn’t stop eating it.

The Lunch Bento Box ($10) was a fantastic deal. I opted for shrimp teriyaki, which came with a bowl of miso soup, a garden salad, fried rice, a spring roll and a small California roll.

You could easily split this lunch with a friend or divide it into a couple of desk lunches at work.

The teriyaki shrimp and veggies were nicely cooked, but I was a little disappointed with the teriyaki sauce which needed a bigger punch of flavor. The rice wasn’t nearly as salty as the first time, and I enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

The rest of the meal was tasty. And can’t be beat for that price.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass