Established in 1972 in Carle Place, Shiro of Japan (401 Old Country Road, Carle Place, NY 11514 516-997-4770 & The Shops at Atlas Park, 80-40 Cooper Avenue at 80th Street, Glendale, NY 11385 718-326-8704 www.shiroofjapan.com) was Long Island’s first traditional hibachi steakhouse. Shiro, the Japanese word for “castle” was selected for its imagery and symbolism, which reflected the owners’ desire to provide exceptional food and service – a commitment the restaurant continues four decades later. Japan’s Takashima Corporation founded Shiro of Japan carrying on the custom of a “true” Japanese hibachi steakhouse, a concept that introduced America to the cooking art form known as teppanyaki – teppan meaning “iron plate” or “steel sheet” and yaki, “stir-fried food” or “stir-frying.” The restaurant, which became a landmark in the 1970s, was quickly sought-after for its unique style of cuisine and chefs.
New and Improved
Current partners, Hiro Ishikawa and Peter Faccibene, took ownership in 2003. Shiro of Japan’s loyal following was made stronger with the addition of Ishikawa – his culinary flare and attention-to-detail created a bastion for sushi lovers in central Nassau County. In 2004, the partners introduced five unique dining experiences under one roof with the addition of a new sushi bar and room, Manhattan-style bar, garden dining area and traditional Japanese-style Tatami rooms. The successful renovation and rebirth of the original Shiro of Japan led to the opening of the second venue in 2006 at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, Queens – a 8,500-square-foot venue featuring a modern and spacious sushi lounge and casual dining room boasting 18 hibachi tables.
Ishikawa, also known as Long Island’s sushi pioneer, expanded the menu, which now includes diverse sushi offerings priced from $2.50 to 4.25 for sushi a la carte (nigri), $5 to $9.50 for sushi rolls, $12.25 to $14.75 for signature rolls, and $9 to $12.25 for sushi bar appetizers. Ishikawa’s own roll creations have become popular across the country and are signature favorites at Shiro of Japan including “Jake” with chopped shrimp and crab with mayo and fish egg and “Black Dragon” consisting of “Jake” on the inside topped with avocado, eel, tobiko, scallion and sweet eel sauce. Among the other sushi items to order are fatty tuna (Toro); the seven-colored Rainbow roll with tuna, whitefish, salmon and Spanish mackerel outside and crab meat, avocado and cucumber inside; and Shiro roll with tuna, salmon and yellowtail.
Straight off the Fire Table
Traditional hibachi dishes remain highlights at Shiro of Japan, as they did 40 years ago. Guests may always count on fine entertainment at one of the many hibachi tables where chefs simultaneously perform with theatrical flair and serve meals to spectators. The hibachi dish of choice is Shiro’s Trio – a lively combination of hibachi chicken, steak and shrimp served with onion soup, salad, a shrimp appetizer, vegetables, hibachi noodles or bean sprouts, steamed rice and green tea.
More Than Sushi and Hibachi
The menu also boasts authentic Japanese cuisine for non-hibachi and non-sushi enthusiasts. Appetizers range from $3.50 to $12 and include: popcorn shrimp comprised of fried shrimp in a potato basket with spicy mayo and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce; tuna tartar made of chopped fresh tuna topped with sliced scallops, avocado and flying fish roe; and tuna tataki with spicy goma sauce, sautéed mango, myouga, ginger, scallions and kaiware. Soup and salad offerings, $2.25 to $11.25, feature: Asari miso soup with tender baby clams; seafood clear soup with scallops, shrimp and whitefish; garden salad with mesclun, red and yellow peppers, red onion and tomato with fried leek and ginger dressing; and soba salad with mesclun, cucumber, shrimp, crab sticks, soba, tomato, avocado and rice cracker topped with seaweed. Desserts, $3.95 to $7.95, offer refreshing sorbet as well as the signature “Bomba,” a chocolate shell filled with vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
Exclusive Fish, A Rare Risk
Shiro of Japan is the only Long Island restaurant licensed to sell fugu, which has become one of the most celebrated and notorious dishes in Japanese cuisine. The exclusive fish is delicious as it is equally deadly if it is not properly cleaned and prepared. Known as “pufferfish,” the highly prized fish contains lethal amounts of poison in its organs that paralyzes victims who remain fully conscious and eventually dies from asphyxiation. Since fugu requires careful shipping preparation in Japan and must pass strict inspections upon arrival in the United States, it has extremely limited availability. Ishikawa, qualified through rigorous training, is just one of a few chefs in the U.S. that is allowed to serve fugu, which is also forbidden in Europe. Only a half-dozen of the very rare specialty can be ordered from Japan at a time. At Shiro of Japan, since one fish yields just two servings, diners must reserve the fugu (priced at $150 per meal) once it becomes available.
A Following of Influencers
Shiro of Japan serves a wide array of clients including celebrities such as Sting, Billy Joel and Hall & Oates, among others. Most impressive is the Japanese clientele, which consists of top executives and CEOs from leading corporations based on Long Island as well as international business leaders who return time and time again when they are in New York. These influencers have chosen Shiro of Japan for its high quality, authentic Japanese sushi and cuisine.
The Japanese Tradition Continues
Shiro of Japan is also dedicated to education and introducing sushi to the next generation. Since 2005, more than 2,000 students from local elementary schools have visited the restaurants to enjoy a fun and educational program offered by Ishikawa and staff. They learn about the history of Japanese cuisine, the traditions, how to make sushi and watch hibachi chefs in action. Students leave with full stomachs and an exciting learning experience.
The Business of Sushi
Shiro of Japan’s sushi making is an art that has developed into a successful business with regular daily food service and catered events for 30 cafeterias at colleges, corporate dining facilities and government agencies on Long Island. The corporate dining sector offers its full line of sushi, from fresh handmade and packaged rolls to large platters, and traditional Japanese cuisine, such as teriyaki specialties, as well as on-site chefs with kimono-dressed servers and waitresses. Between this market and the two restaurant locations, Shiro of Japan serves on average 5,000 meals per week.