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While looking for a quick lunch, we found Hibachi Express on Herlong Avenue in Rock Hill.
The plaza location is convenient for dine in or carry out, and they offer a discount for Winthrop students. The small, one-room restaurant was busy, but we made our way through the ordering counter line quickly. The menu posted overhead is quick, too, featuring salads, appetizers, tempura, entrees and express bowls. While it’s not as long a list as some other Asian restaurants, it is filled with mouth-watering Japanese dishes, and some unique items, too, such as a seaweed salad and even the special of the day, eel. Nothing on the menu costs more than $12.95. There is no sushi, however.
After placing our order, we took a seat at a table near the window. It’s quiet; no music was playing. And this is an immaculately clean restaurant from top to bottom. They keep decor simple, with a few pieces of Japanese art on the wall. The tables, decorated in Japanese writing and art, are an interesting feature. When our number was called, I picked up our tray. All food comes served in Styrofoam containers ready to go.
We started with our appetizer of vegetable tempura ($4.50). It truly was lightly battered and fried to perfection to keep it light and flavorful.
We also tried our first seaweed dish, the salad ($3.50). The ginger sauce was not too overpowering, and the seaweed was, in the words of my friend, “interesting.” I actually liked it more than she did, I think, which was surprising. I liked the crunch and the texture. It was a hefty sized salad, easy to share or possibly make a light meal out of.
We had both ordered off the entree list. She went with just hibachi shrimp, while I went with the mix, trying three meats of chicken, shrimp and steak. Everything, even the mixed vegetables, were full of generous flavor. Each meat was cooked just right, and I gobbled it up.
For being express — or fast food — the quality of the food and the preparation is top notch, definitely deserving of a “cuisine” tag. I’ve been to fancier Japanese houses and not enjoyed my meal as much. Plus, the staff was friendly and accommodating, including my friend’s request for lowering the salt in her meal.
Hibachi Express makes fast food, good food.
Catherine Muccigrosso, Lake Wylie Pilot editor
Location: 305 Herlong Ave, suite 303, (Millwood Plantation), Rock Hill
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday
Ambiance: Fast Japanese cuisine