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Hibachi Fried Rice vs. Chinese Fried Rice

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We've been on a mission in my kitchen to replicate the taste of the fried rice you get when at a decent hibachi restaurant. In my travels, I have managed to replicate Chinese style fried rices, but I can never seen to nail the special flavor that Hibachi chefs manage to create at their restaurants. Whenever I have asked about their special ingredients, the answer I have received is "salt" -- clearly not the secret.

Yesterday, I found a receipe that included Hon Dashi (Bonito flavored broth). Could this be the secret ingredient that separates the Japanese style from the Chinese style? All of my web searches seem to return very similar ingredients, and nothing to distinguish the two -- until this recipe.

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  1. You talking about fried rice like at Benihana's?
    If so, the only difference I see between that and Chinese fried rice is that Benihana's uses a lot of butter and not oil in the preparation of their fried rice.

    4 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Yes, I have noticed that. The Chinese fried rice I see recipes for seems also to sometimes either have BBQ pork, which has a touch of five spice powder in the marinade in many places, or even a touch of five spice powder in the fried rice itself if using shrimp or chicken.

      The butter though, still doesn't nail it.

      All of the "Benihana" recipes use butter and soy sauce, no other seasonings except salt.

      1. re: RGC1982

        The only other two variables I see is the Benihana recipe uses white onions and green onions and maybe the type of rice (Japanese short grain) they use.

        When I make Chinese fried rice its usually with cooked day old long grain rice (fries up better and grains don't stick together), add oyster sauce for color and flavor and a small amount of low sodium soy sauce.

        There are many variations and recipes on fried rice there is no one right or wrong way to make it, but I understand you're looking for that missing link.

        Maybe its "wok hay", that taste you get from the very high heat of the wok.

      2. re: monku

        I've been looking at a lot of hibachi rice recipces on the web, specifically regarding Benihanas. No one mentions that it's not just butter that they use but garlic butter. I remember asking the chef about it. I think that is what makes the rice so special. I'm going to try it tonigh

        1. re: fotojane

          We made it tonight with the garlic butter and it was fabulous. The other ingredient that I found missing from some recipes is toasted sesame seeds. It is also a must have. We went with only the onions, no green onions. Our 13 year old love it so we must be doing something right!

      3. If you're talking about the fried rice that Benihana serves up, then my guess is that the "special ingredient" is the leftover char and bits of grime and grease that's on the table top from the cooking of beef and chicken.

        1. Isn't a hibatchi actually a type of BBQ?

          6 Replies
          1. re: salsailsa

            Yes, actually the correct name is Teppanyaki, but most restaurants call it hibachi.

            You may be right about the rice -- I have been using Jasmine. Perhaps butter and some CalRose may be a better choice. I already cook with white and green onions. It's worth a try.

            1. re: RGC1982

              Perhaps the rice was cooked in a flavored broth?

              1. re: dfrostnh

                I am thinking also that this may be the case, and the reason I found a recipe that used dehydrated bonito flakes. That would certainly affect the flavor.

                1. re: RGC1982

                  I assumed you were using Cal Rose type rice and not jasmine. That's probably it.

                  I don't think there's any bonito broth. When I've watched them make it at places and the only added seasoning is soy sauce and salt & pepper.
                  I don't taste Hon dashi.

                  1. re: monku

                    I am trying to make this aswell... I believe it is sesame oil instead of (olive or extra olive) and add a shake of sesame seeds aswell... I haven't tried yet but I know for a fact the local Jap steak house uses seeds and I am assuming the oil is sesame aswell ... good luck and let me know.

                    1. re: ZXRBQ1

                      NEVER, EVER TRY COOKING WITH SESAME OIL. It is a seasoning added at end of cooking. Its smoking point is too low to use for cooking.

          2. I cannot imagine going to bennyhaha and ordering fried rice...but who can say? For my fried rice, I cook the rice in chicken broth with butter, refrigerate overnight. Use VERY hot wok (I have a Wolf range), do not use oil, but small amount of chicken fat. Use Japanese rice (CalRose OK). At end of cooking, add bit of thai fish sauce (no salt). Let rice "char" in the wok,,,taste slightly burned. OK if a few grains are crisp (like soccarat). I pre-cook my meat or fish and toss in last.

            1. Great topic. Benihana's used to use soy oil, now they use cottonseed oil. They use salted butter. The rice varies, but I've seen med. and long grain white. They use rice that has often been refrigerated so the rice will not stick. Soy sauce brand changes, but they have used Yamasa. They use salt and fine ground black pepper on the rice as it is being made. They also use a mix that has garlic powder and paprika.... but very little on the rice... more on other dishes. The main difference in taste from chinese fried rice is they use butter and MORE soy sauce, where chinese rice is predominantly less soy sauce (sometimes none) and more fat or oil.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Laughing Tiger

                they do not use butter, butter would burn, it is butter substitute.

              2. What about using sake? I haven't tried to make hibachi rice at home yet - but they do seem to use a lot of sake when cooking in the restaurant. Also, garlic and maybe sesame seeds (which I saw someone else suggest). Anyway, more sake, more happy, right?

                1. I cant believe how closely guarded this secret is!!!! Wow this post has been going on for how long and nobody has told you all the basics???? First of all, the butter they use is not BUTTER!! put real butter on the grill with your meat and it will taste like burned butter! It is butter substitute that tuns into an oil when heated, and does not burn! It also usually contains garlic, finely chopped, or chunked. They use two kinds of the substitute. A liquid kind, and a solid kind. The solid kind contains the Garlic and is used last. The also use a bit of sake. Now for the soy. If you put regular soy in it, it will taste like your bottle of soy! Yuck! They boil the soy with water(to dilute) and MIRIN, a rice cooking wine. They add a little sugar too. Now for the rice, The missing ingredient you speak of is simple sugar. The rice tastes so different because when the chef says he is adding salt, it is SUGAR! Also the mirin in the soy makes the rice taste different. LAstly is the ginger dipping sauce. A tiny bit of ginger, onions, soy, and carrot juice, thats it. blend well. I have been to Every single Hibachi place in the chicago landd and northwest Indiana area, I have bribed cheffs, and have mastered the recipe. The butter substitute I speak of can be found at Gordons food service. You will not Find it at a regular store.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pprzybyl

                    Seeing as you have mastered the recipe, would you be kind enough to share it?

                    1. re: pprzybyl

                      Hi pprzybyl - Can you tell me the ratio of soy to water and MIRIN? I want to try this. Also, about how much sugar if you are using approx. 4 cups cooked rice?

                      1. re: fotojane

                        Hey I figured the ratio out the other day here at home making fried rice. Soy sauce 1/2 cup, 3/4 cup water, I used 1/4 cup Mirin and then 2Tbsp of sugar and put it allin a pot and moiled while stiring till the sugar was melted. it made the rice rock. I let it cool and poured into a squeeze bottle for the fridge when I needed it and used it on my rice but I didnt have to use it all. dont for get the salt and pepper too and butter. it was awesome hope this helps you.

                      2. re: pprzybyl

                        Do you have a recipe? also we eat at a place called tokyo japanese steak house and love the noodles they do do you know how to do those too?

                      3. I've been looking at a lot of hibachi rice recipces on the web, specifically regarding Benihanas. No one mentions that it's not just butter that they use but garlic butter. I remember asking the chef about it. I think that is what makes the rice so special. I'm going to try it tonight.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: fotojane

                          Yum, let us know how it goes!

                          1. re: Camarogirl67

                            We made it tonight with the garlic butter and it was fabulous. The other ingredient that I found missing from some recipes is toasted sesame seeds. It is also a must have. We went with only regular onions, no green onions. Our 13 year old love it so we must be doing something right.

                        2. I'll laugh if it turns out to be MSG.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                            Actually, it is MSG. And the sugar....

                          2. I don't know how they do it at teppenyaki restaurants, but a japanese friend taught me that instead of adding egg and cooking it with the other ingredients, the egg should be fork whipped in a bowl then added off heat, mixing in quickly so that the "egg covers every grain" of ride. The heat from the rice cooks the egg onto the grains, instead of having scrambled eggs mixed into the rice like in chinese fried rice.

                            1. I read on another website that the secret ingredient is Gomasio. It is a combination of sugar, sea salt, seaweed and sesame seeds. Some don’t have the dash of sugar. If yours does not have a dash of sugar, add a pinch to the rice. You can sometimes find this labeled as rice seasoning instead of Gomasio. Either way you will find it most likely in the international aisle. I also read that Tamari has a smoother flavor than soy sauce and may be a better option for this recipe. Here is where I found the other recipe http://www.savoryreviews.com/2011/07/...