New Japanese restaurant offers Evanston’s only hibachi spot

Oliver Ortega

Japanese cuisine aficionados now have a new spot in town to satisfy their cravings. Todoroki Hibachi and Sushi, 526 Davis St., celebrated its opening Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, after which customers were allowed to sample sushi and some of the restaurant’s other food.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl cut the ribbon to “officially” open the restaurant and gave a short speech wishing it success. Ald. Don Wilson (4th), whose ward includes Todoroki, was also present at the event.

Tisdahl said the new restaurant represents a boost of economic development in Evanston.

“The fact that there are new restaurants continually opening – new and good restaurants – is a healthy sign for the community and for the greater economy,” Tisdahl said.

Todoroki first opened its doors to customers Jan. 15, restaurant owner Wendy Cheng said.

The restaurant offers a sushi menu as well as traditional Japanese cuisine made at hibachi stations, where the chef prepares food over an open grill surrounded by a hibachi table for customers. The chef usually performs tricks with the food or utensils and interacts with customers for a more personal and artistic dining experience.

Guests sampled sushi, chicken, dumplings and sparkling wine during the first part of the ceremony. Later, guests were served fried rice with egg, vegetables, steak and shrimp at three hibachi stations.

Downtown Evanston, a nonprofit that works with the city of Evanston to market and manage downtown businesses, has been involved in promoting the restaurant and aiding Todoroki’s management since before it opened, said Carolyn Dellutri, executive director of Downtown Evanston. Members of the organization’s executive board attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Dellutri said although some restaurants have closed recently, she thinks this year will be good for Evanston businesses.

“The first quarter is always the quarter we see business turnover,” Dellutri said. “It’s unfortunate we lost a couple, but we brought in new ones.”

Todoroki offers a discount to Northwestern students with a WildCARD and accepts Downtown Evanston gift cards.

Evanston already hosts a number of restaurants specializing in sushi and Japanese cuisine, including Koi, which is just a block away from Todoroki. However, Todoroki is the only restaurant in Evanston to offer hibachi cooking.

SESP junior Meena Sayeed, who attended the opening celebration, said she went to Todoroki a couple of weeks ago with her roommate and enjoyed the experience.

“I’ve been to a couple of other places, and this isn’t the best, but it’s the closest to me that has sushi and it’s fresh,” Sayeed said. “The service is nice and the ambience is nice.”

Weinberg freshman Rex Tai said he thinks the “all-you-can-eat sushi” deal will appeal to customers. Tai added he was impressed with the food at the opening ceremony.

“I actually have high standards because I worked in a Japanese restaurant before, but (Todoroki has) good food,” Tai said.

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