What is Japanese hibachi VS a teppanyaki grill | 3 main differences

The world we live in is diverse. This diversity makes this world beautiful. When it comes to food, there is a wide range of choice for us.

Over the course of many years, different cultures have contributed their very own recipes in the world of culinary. Today it is very easy for us to obtain these different types of cuisine. Surely, all these cuisines are delicious in their very own way!

Japan has blessed the world with a lot of innovations- no doubt. In the world of culinary, they have made their presence significant. Two of the most recognized Japanese cuisines are teppanyaki and hibachi.

My top Teppanyaki grill plate is the Everdure Furnace Grill Stovetop, it’ s quite large and very sturdy so it’ ll last you a long time.

Looking at the Hibachi grills you can get, you should check out the Update International Cast Iron Hibachi Set which is a bit more traditional than the other suggestion I have a bit further down this article.

These two cuisines have thrived through the test of time and in the modern time is a worldwide favorite.

Just because these two cuisines have their origins rooted in Japan- many people make the mistake of thinking that they are the same thing. That is so not the case. Teppanyaki and hibachi are two completely different cuisines.

Each has their own unique properties that make them stand out and also, they both have a different history. In this article, I’ll clarify your confusions regarding the differences between teppanyaki and hibachi.

So I have both, just because I love Asian Cuisine so much and got them from Amazon, which was pretty easy and received them quite fast.

And if you’re serious about getting into Japanese cooking, you should check out my review of the best Hibachi knives right here. It’s one of the first things to get when starting out.

Teppanyaki vs hibachi - which is best
This is a text overlay image of the original work Hibachi grilling by Lou Stejskal and meats (2) by Janine on Flickr under cc. Thanks for sharing these great images on Flickr!

Difference between Teppanyaki and Hibachi

Here’s the biggest difference between Teppanyaki and Hibachi:

  • Teppanyaki is grilled style food whilst Hibachi is more for cooking and uses a round bowl or stove
  • Teppanyaki is relatively young (1945) and Hibachi has been around for hundreds of years
  • Teppanyaki focusses on entertainment and knife skills whilst Hibachi has a more traditional style

Here’s a video which best demonstrates the showmanship of Teppanyaki style cooking:

Best Teppanyaki vs. Hibachi grills

These are my absolute favourite Teppanyaki and Hibachi grills for different situations and budgets:

CuisineKnown forTop choice
TeppanyakiEntertainment and flame grilled meats on your stove

Everdure Furnace Grill Stovetop

TeppanyakiEntertainment and flame grilled meats on the table


Netsc19 Electric Teppanyaki Table Top Grill

HibachiTradition, cooking foods in a ceramic bowl over a fire stove

Update International Cast Iron Hibachi Set

HibachiMore modern tabletop hibachi cooking

Marsh Allen modern version

What is Teppanyaki?

The presence of teppanyaki is dominant in modern times. At this point, you must be wondering what is this teppanyaki? Be assured as in this article I will cover the details about teppanyaki and by the end of this article, you will be an expert on Teppanyaki.

In layman’s term teppanyaki is a Japanese cuisine which involves the use of iron girdle to cook food. When we break down the Japanese word teppanyaki- things get a bit interesting: “teppan” means iron girdle whereas ‘yaki’ simply means cooked food.

You must be wondering that this is a very simple cuisine- but you would be so wrong. Teppanyaki is one of the most complex forms of food out there and it takes high levels of skills to master this form of cooking.

A small history lesson in Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki has a very interesting history. I am sure that you all must be wondering that since it is Japanese cuisine its history must involve ninjas and samurais and what not! But that is certainly not the case. The origin story of teppanyaki is very much similar to that of Colonel Sanders story!

Teppanyaki originates in Tokyo, Japan- a restaurant chain Misono, in Kobe first adopted the concept of teppanyaki in 1945. This makes teppanyaki a relatively new addition in the world of cooking.

The interesting thing about teppanyaki’s history is that the local people didn’t fancy teppanyaki at all. In fact, teppanyaki was criticized to be an inappropriate and also unhygienic form of cooking! So, you must be wondering how such a badly criticized cuisine strived through the test of time!

It was, in fact, the tourists who absolutely adored this cuisine, especially people from the US. But the catch was the tourists who were mainly fascinated by the entertainment factor involved in teppanyaki.

And by entertainment, I mean all the knives throwing and the ‘playing’ with fire involved. Mind you these required high skills!

Misono took advantage of this and for the following years focused mainly on these entertainment factors. They hired people with excellent knife skills that were not hard to find in Japan- obviously!

All those juggling with knives and ingredients; the risky maneuvers with the intense hot flame- they paid off.

Teppanyaki blows over to western culture

Teppanyaki was a huge hit in the western culture! And soon restaurant chain focusing on teppanyaki were being opened up worldwide!

Today teppanyaki as we know it is very popular and the teppanyaki chefs to this day continue to focus on the entertainment factor. Why won’t they, it is truly a treat to the eye (no pun intended).

At this point, you must be fascinated by the rich history of teppanyaki and probably wondering that you cannot do it at home- but that’s where you are wrong. Although teppanyaki may look extremely sophisticated if you take the entertainment factor out, you see that it’s not all that hard.

How can you do it yourself?

With a little practice, you can enjoy the sublime taste of teppanyaki by sitting at home. It is very similar to ordinary grilling-but, of course, you need to purchase the special teppanyaki grill- which is not so expensive! I just bought the Everdure Stovetop grill from Amazon which is just easy to use.

I owned an electric one before this, which is great to get you started, but more for party style around the table cooking and this one I can use on my stove as well as outside on my BBQ.

There are tons of teppanyaki for you to try! And most of them are easy. There is a wide range of ingredients from which you can choose: beef, shrimp, lobster, chicken, scallops along with assorted vegetables.

Now, although making teppanyaki at home is easy but making it at restaurant level requires extensive practice. Teppanyaki is such a culinary form that it requires a greater portion of practice than skills.

Many Japanese restaurants have many other forms of teppanyaki dishes like Kobe beef, Japanese noodles with sliced cabbage but these are harder than the ones mentioned earlier so if you are a rookie it is advised that you start with either regular beef or chicken.

For the side dishes, it is totally up to you to make the call. The choosing of side dish largely depends on the main ingredient and also personal preference. If you are confused then assorted veggies is always a safe option.

Make sure, however, that you don’t overcook or undercook them as a bad side dish will undermine the main dish no matter how good it is. Other than that, the equipment you require for teppanyaki is the regular set of knives you have at home.

Teppanyaki uses an iron Griddle

At the heart of this process is the iron girdle so make sure you buy a good one. However, certain precautions must be taken in to account when using the teppanyaki grill because the flame can easily cause harm in this type of grill.

So, I recommend you use fireproof gloves and throughout the time keep a fire extinguisher nearby- I cannot stress this enough- keep the fire extinguisher close! You can find more info on doing at home.

To summarize teppanyaki is basically a form of cooking done on an iron girdle and which normally involves a lot of fancy maneuvers.

The difference between teppanyaki and hibachi

This is a text overlay image of the original work Chef preparing the course by City Foodsters and hibachi flames by tracyshaun on Flickr under cc.

What is Hibachi?

Hibachi and teppanyaki are often thought to be the same thing but this is a huge misconception! This is because they are both two completely different things. Hibachi is a Japanese word that translates to fire bowl. Hibachi is like a round stove that uses charcoal for cooking.

Now, hibachi is not a newcomer in the culinary world. In fact, hibachi is believed to be around for hundreds of years; tracing its origin back to ancient Japan. Hibachi cuisines are very easy to made mainly because the hibachi grill requires little or no skill to operate.

Who invented Hibachi?

It is believed that hibachi first came to the scene when Japanese were beginning to use metal in their cookware but there are indications it was invented even earlier, around by 79–1185 AD in the Heian Period, and the first were made of Cypress wood lined with clay.

Hibachi due to its simplicity became one of the first contribution by Japan in the culinary world. Very soon hibachi was mixed with the rich culture of the Japanese. Hibachis were heavily decorated and it was often made part of Japanese rituals.

What is Hibachi style food?

Hibachi style food is the grilling of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes on a very hot cooking surface that sits on top of a ceramic or wooden bowl filled with burning charcoal. The Binchotan type of charcoal gives it is unique flavor.

The main appeal of hibachi dining is the entertainment aspect. When you join us for a hibachi dinner, you are guaranteed to have a great time.

Use of Hibachi throughout history

These ancient hibachis are still available today and their design still baffles people- such as the craftsmanship in this hibachi. Hibachi was mainly used for heating but as time progressed the uses of hibachi grew and became very diverse. It was even used for cigarette lighting!

During the world war, two hibachis were used by troops to cook their food in the battlefield. This just shows how much deeply rooted hibachi is to the Japanese culture.

In fact, before world war two, hibachi was the most common cooking tool used by the Japanese. It was very common to spot a hibachi in public places like train stations, bus stops, hospital waiting rooms etc.

Hibachi at home

Like teppanyaki, hibachi is also easy to make at home. A significant reason for this is that hibachi doesn’t involve that many fancy maneuvers which are required to complete the task. The main thing you’ll be needing is the hibachi ‘fire bowl’ and some charcoal.

I would love to try out this more traditional one in the near future to just get the whole feeling of the Japanese cooking. I bought this tabletop version myself from Amazon a few years back and it’s great to start with.

You have a variety of ingredients to choose from but for a beginner, simple veggies or steaks are often recommended. Hibachi grilling is a bit tough as hibachis are not your conventional grills. So, this will require a bit of getting used to.

Normally, people use a special sauce when making food on hibachi- it is referred to as the hibachi sauce. If you can nail this sauce then your food will definitely be delicious.

If you are using ceramic hibachis then you should be extremely careful because any slip of hand may cause all the fiery hot ingredient to be all over you causing severe burns.

Teppanyaki VS hibachi

For all the Japanese cuisines, teppanyaki is probably the most popular one- rightfully so! However, this makes room for a ton of misconception. It is very common for anyone to mistake literally any Japanese cuisine for teppanyaki.

Hibachi, another Japanese cuisine, is probably the most underrated Japanese cuisine because the majority of times they are mistaken for teppanyaki!

They have a very significant yet unnoticeable difference- sounds weird right? What I mean by this is that if you are a culinary expert the difference will be very obvious to you but if not then you might not notice it at all.

The term hibachi literally translates to fire bowl- this is because the grill used for hibachi cuisines is very unique: a cylindrical vessel with fireproof lining.

They put charcoal on it and then cook their food in it. For teppanyaki, as we know already, an iron girdle is used.

whats the difference between teppanyaki and hibachi grilling

This is a text overlay image of the original work Sharp Knife by Lachlan Hardy and Hibachi! by Andre Charland, as well as the before mentioned Chef preparing the course by City Foodsters and hibachi flames by tracyshaun on Flickr under cc.

Two cuisines, different and the same

The ingredients of teppanyaki and hibachi are likely to be very similar, which is perhaps one of the reasons that this confusion arises. The cooking processes yield completely different tastes. I, personally prefer teppanyaki but this is subjected to personal preference.

Other than that, both hibachi and teppanyaki are more than just cuisines in Japan. They are a form of art and both deserve equal appreciation. Teppanyaki has made a greater impact because it normally works with Japanese steaks and we all know that Japanese steaks are the best in the world!

Teppanyaki is easy to make at home relative to hibachi and also the availability of iron girdle is more than the special cooking vessel required by hibachi.

Which one is better, Teppanyaki or Hibachi?

Now the question stands – which one is better? Well, to be honest, this is not a valid question because both teppanyaki and hibachi have excelled in their very own ways. Although teppanyaki is a bit more popular in the western culture, hibachi makes up for this by being a star in Japanese soil!

As I mentioned earlier, both these cuisines are a form of art coming from the heart of Japan- they both have high traditional value.

But I must say that hibachi is a clear winner when it comes to traditional value as it is one of the oldest creation of Japan, and also it has heavily made a part of Japanese ceremonies. You can see hibachis as the central attraction of tea festivals in Japan.

Teppanyaki, on the other hand, has bloomed on the western culture and has become an epitome of Japanese food in western countries. Also, it represents the splendid skills of Japanese chefs as a form of entertainment. So it is fair to say both teppanyaki and hibachi are great in their very own ways and to argue which one is the best is simply chasing one’s tail.

Also read: Did you know these Japanese table manners?

Related Hibachi questions

So a lot of you had some additional questions related to the difference between Teppanyaki and Hibachi and I’ve added this Q&A section to answer a few:

What is the difference between teriyaki and hibachi?

Teriyaki literally translated to “glossy grilled.” It refers more to the sauce used to get the glazed finish when grilling, which is a sweet soy based sauce using lots of spices. Hibachi refers more to the cooking style of grilling over charcoal. You can grill Teriyaki on a Hibachi grill, although Hibachi dishes usually are less sweet and only use soy sauce.

What is the difference between teriyaki and teppanyaki?

Teppanyaki is a style of cooking where meat, seafood and vegetables are cooked on a “teppan”, a flat surface cooking grill whearas teriyaki is anything grilled with a shiny sweet soy sauce glaze and refers more to the sauce than the cooking style.

Is Hibachi actually Japanese?

Hibachi is certainly Japanese, and is often times mistaken for Teppanyaki. Here in America you’ll see Teppanyaki grills (or “Teppan”) being used in hibachi restaurants and the two terms being used interchangeably. They are both however, Japanese cooking styles.

Do they eat hibachi in Japan?

Yes, they eat Hibachi in Japan and it actually originates from Japan. Here we mostly eat grilled red meat when we go out for Hibachi, but Japanese cuisine consists more of vegetables and fish than meats.

What is a hibachi chef called?

The term Hibachi chef is more of a Western notion, but an itamae (板前) is a chef in a Japanese kitchen often referred to as the chef in a high-end Japanese restaurant and literally translates to “in front of the board,” as in a cutting board.

How hot is a hibachi grill?

A hibachi grill can get very hot with heat variances from 450 degrees in the center to 250 degrees around the edges. Part of hibachi cooking is playing with the temperature by moving ingredients around across the cooking surface.

Final thoughts

Now, you probably have a greater understanding on the differences between teppanyaki and hibachi. This knowledge will allow you to appreciate the Japanese culinary culture even better, and you can thoroughly enjoy the traditional values of these cuisines because now you know how they all started.

Other than that, I hope you give a try to both of these cuisines- if you haven’t already as both of them are great in their very own ways. Also, I have discussed in the article the possibilities of implementing both of these cuisines at the comfort of your home- so be sure to give that a try! You can read https://www.japanesecooking101.com/teppanyaki-recipe/ and https://www.benihana.com/difference-between-hibachi-and-teppanyaki/ for more information and insight!

And be sure to visit my buying guide for more grills and utensils you just have to have to get started in this area of cooking!

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