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Grilling Showdown: Teppanyaki vs. Hibachi – Unraveling the Differences

The Difference Between Teppanyaki and Hibachi

Teppanyaki and Hibachi are two popular styles of Japanese cooking that have gained significant popularity in the United States. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different cooking methods with their own unique characteristics. In this article, we will explore the differences between teppanyaki and hibachi, including their origins, cooking techniques, and cultural significance.

Origins of Teppanyaki and Hibachi

The roots of teppanyaki and hibachi can be traced back to Japan, but their paths diverge in terms of history and purpose.


Teppanyaki, which translates to “grilled on an iron plate,” is a style of cooking that emphasizes performance and entertainment. It is believed to have originated after World War II, during the post-war occupation of Japan by American soldiers. Businessman and chef Shigeji Fujioka is credited with developing teppanyaki to appeal to American palates.
The Teppanyaki cooking method uses a flat, solid metal plate heated by gas. The iron plate distributes heat evenly, allowing the chef to cook different ingredients at the same time. Teppanyaki chefs often demonstrate their culinary skills by performing impressive tricks, such as flipping utensils, juggling ingredients, and creating fiery displays. This theatrical element has made teppanyaki dining a popular choice for special occasions and celebrations.


Hibachi, on the other hand, has a longer history and is more rooted in traditional Japanese culture. The word “hibachi” translates to “fire bowl” and refers to small, portable grills that were historically used for heating and cooking. These grills, called shichirin in Japan, were commonly used during the Heian period, which dates back to 794.
Traditional hibachi grills are circular in shape and have open grates. They are typically made of wood or ceramic lined with metal. Hibachi grills use charcoal or wood as a heat source, which imparts a distinct smoky flavor to food. In Japan, hibachi cooking is often associated with family-style meals, where everyone gathers around the grill to enjoy the food being prepared.

The Differences Between Teppanyaki and Hibachi

While both teppanyaki and hibachi involve grilling food, there are notable differences that set them apart.


Teppanyaki is characterized by its performance-oriented approach to cooking. The chef interacts with diners, showcasing his or her culinary skills and providing an entertaining dining experience. The flat iron plate used in teppanyaki allows for precise control of cooking temperatures, making it ideal for grilling meats, seafood, vegetables and even noodles. Teppanyaki dishes are often seasoned with sauces and spices to enhance the flavors.
Teppanyaki restaurants have gained popularity around the world, with Benihana being one of the most well-known chains. Founded in 1964 by Rocky Aoki, Benihana introduced teppanyaki-style dining to the American public. Today, teppanyaki restaurants offer a wide variety of menu options and are known for their lively atmosphere and interactive cooking demonstrations.


Hibachi cooking emphasizes the communal aspect of dining. The small, portable hibachi grills are traditionally used in outdoor settings such as picnics or festivals. They are suitable for grilling small portions of food, making them a popular choice for intimate gatherings or outdoor cooking.
Hibachi-style cooking emphasizes simplicity and natural flavors. Food is often cooked with minimal seasoning, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine through. Hibachi grills impart a smoky aroma to the food, adding an extra layer of depth to the overall dining experience.

Bottom Line

Teppanyaki and Hibachi are two different styles of Japanese cooking that offer unique dining experiences. Teppanyaki is known for its theatrical cooking displays and interactive atmosphere, while hibachi focuses on the communal aspect of grilling. Both styles have their own charms and continue to captivate diners with their delicious offerings.
Whether you prefer the sizzling excitement of teppanyaki or the comforting simplicity of hibachi, exploring these culinary traditions can be a delightful journey into Japanese cuisine. The next time you visit a Japanese restaurant, you’ll have a better understanding of the difference between teppanyaki and hibachi, allowing you to appreciate the nuances and flavors of each style. Enjoy your culinary adventure!


What is the main difference between Teppanyaki and Hibachi?

Teppanyaki emphasizes performance and entertainment, with chefs showcasing their culinary skills on a flat iron plate. Hibachi, on the other hand, focuses on family-style cooking around a small, portable grill, often using charcoal or wood as the heat source.

Are Teppanyaki and Hibachi cooking methods the same?

No, they are not the same. Teppanyaki involves grilling food on a flat, solid metal griddle heated by gas, while hibachi uses small, circular grills with open grates, traditionally fueled by charcoal or wood.

Which cooking style is more interactive?

Teppanyaki is known for its interactive nature, as chefs interact with guests, perform impressive tricks, and cook food right in front of them. Hibachi, while communal, is less interactive, as diners typically gather around the grill to enjoy the food prepared by the chef.

Do Teppanyaki and Hibachi have different flavors?

Yes, they do. With teppanyaki, food is often seasoned with sauces and spices, resulting in bold and flavorful dishes. Hibachi, on the other hand, focuses on natural flavors, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves, with the added smoky flavor of charcoal or wood grilling.

Can I find both teppanyaki and hibachi in the same restaurant?

Yes, it is possible to find both teppanyaki and hibachi in the same restaurant. Some establishments may have separate sections or stations dedicated to each cooking style, allowing diners to choose their preferred dining experience.

Which style is better for special occasions?

Teppanyaki is often considered more suitable for special occasions due to its theatrical and entertaining nature. The lively cooking demonstrations and interactive atmosphere make it a memorable choice for celebrations and gatherings. Hibachi, with its communal aspect, can also create a festive atmosphere for intimate gatherings and outdoor events.

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