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Hibachi Fried Rice vs. Chinese Fried Rice

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.