When you first walk into Yokohama in Maple Shade (named after a Japanese city south of Tokyo) you’re greeted by a fully stocked bar—somewhat of a rare find in a Japanese restaurant located in a busy strip mall in South Jersey.
Less rare is the hibachi room on the left, where theatrical chefs put on shows for guests seated at the teppanyaki tables. Yokohama clearly isn’t your typical sushi take-out joint. People come here to be entertained. During my recent visit, on a Saturday night, the crowded room boomed with laughter and applause.
The right side of the restaurant, where the sushi bar is located, offers a more serene oasis. Grab a seat at the lively sushi bar to see the sushi chefs in action, but don’t just limit yourself to sushi.
It’s in your best interest to explore the robatayaki section of the menu, a traditional Japanese style of grilling in which items of food are cooked over hot charcoal. Go for the chicken yakitori ($7), two skewers of chicken with scallions and teriyaki sauce; or the hamachi kama ($13), yellow tail served in a lemon ponzu sauce. We also tried hot appetizers like the beef negimaki ($8), thin slices of steak that were broiled and rolled with scallions in a teriyaki sauce, and blistered shishito peppers that were a welcome replacement for edamame.
One of the sushi specials that evening was kobe beef ($15 for two pieces), excellent and worth the splurge. The thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth, silky beef were slightly cooked, and served still warm over sushi rice, and topped with thinly sliced scallions. It was the highlight of the meal. We also got a sashimi combo, served with a miso soup or salad, which was good, but nowhere near as decadent as the kobe beef sushi we had just experienced.
A final word about the bar: Yokohama’s drinks menu includes beer, wine, cocktails and sake, but it’s not a super diverse or extravagant selection. You can pay a $7 corkage fee if you prefer to bring your own bottle. Depending on what you like to drink, it might be worth it.
Yokohama Sushi and Hibachi, 300 South Lenola Road, Maple Shade; 856-608-8812.
Lunch and dinner, daily.