Ah, Fall. Summer’s over. School’s back. There’s a nip in the air and pumpkin spice is everywhere. We’re on the slippery slope straight to the holidays, and it’s almost impossible to not feel just a little bit festive. Which is exactly how I felt recently on a cool, early fall evening when my husband and I considered having friends over to light the fire pit on our patio. As inviting as it sounded to gather with friends around the warmth of the fire, our kitchen was bare and we had nothing to offer anyone for dinner. There’s a reason why someone cleverly posted on Facebook recently: “Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you die.” Although equal parts humorous and dramatic, it does make a point.
So, we rallied the troops and headed to Ziki Japanese Steakhouse in Annapolis Towne Center, a place where we could kick back, share some laughs while someone else cooked AND entertained us, all around, well, a fire!
The minute we stepped into Ziki, we were met with the bustle of a Friday night crowd, a waitress whizzing by with a tempting plate of sushi, a vibrant bar scene, large hibachi grills scattered throughout the room, cooking utensils being tossed in the air like batons, smoking stacks of onion rings choo-chooing across the grill and gleeful diners trying to catch a flying shrimp or swig a stream of saki, hands-free.
We settled around a hibachi grill big enough for the eight of us and placed our orders: some chicken, some filet, a little seafood, and one or two combos. Not able to resist the sushi, I ordered a few pieces myself. Out came the salad with ginger dressing and miso soup, which was perfect to warm up the soul. As the sushi arrived (and was quickly devoured), so did the hibachi chef. Part grill master, part showman, ours kept us easily entertained, yet still left us able to converse with each other as we would have back home around the fire.
Speaking of fire, the chef lit up the grill and then the show began. Flames! Spinning eggs! Yum Yum sauce! Noodles! Fried rice, sautéed veggies, various grilled meats and more of the aforementioned saki! (I said yes to the second go-around).
Our chef was very mindful that one person at the table had a shellfish allergy. He kindly (and appropriately so) cooked and served her chicken before any seafood touched the grill. Once finished plating everyone’s meal, our chef said goodbye and left us to enjoy our dinner and each other.
It occurred to me that there was little difference between the fire pit at home and the hibachi grill at Ziki. Both are places that bring people together, around the warmth of the flames and in the company of those you love. Come winter, when our fire pit goes into hibernation, you’ll find us back at Ziki staying warm around the hibachi.
Blog by Aimee Lubin.