Mississippi is famous for many kinds of food: fried fish, pigs’ ears, even—surprisingly, to those unfamiliar with the state’s history—hot tamales. Our state is a rich mixture of many different cultures, each of which brought with them their own food traditions to add to the melting pot of Mississippi cuisine. But there’s one food you’re not as likely to find on the list of southern delicacies—Mississippi isn’t, at least from the outside looking in—exactly known for its hibachi grills. It kinda makes sense.
Nobody told the owner of Bonsai Japanese Steakhouse that you couldn’t get good hibachi in Mississippi, so she continues to serve it up every day alongside an impressive sushi menu. Many Mississippi natives will quickly inform you that folks around here tend to be a bit “set in their ways,” and that often extends to our food choices. Bonsai is betting on the idea that people are ready to try something different.
It certainly appears that bet is paying off. When we stopped in for an early dinner on a Tuesday evening we were surprised to find the restaurant nearly full. And when we took a seat at the communal hibachi table, we found that the crowd was a diverse mix of ages, races, and professions. It seems that the prospect of food cooked over an open flame has a universal appeal.
On the sushi side of the menu, the list of traditional rolls and nigiri options is impressive. But the menu also offers a distinctly welcoming Mississippian twist with items like the deep-fried Mardi Gras roll, which features crawfish.
But the hibachi grill is where Bonsai’s approach really begins to shine. With the multitude of meat and sauce choices it would be fairly easy to order an entire meal that a hibachi purist wouldn’t even recognize, such as whole lobster tail with sweet chili sauce, or high-grade ribeye with sriracha.
With the wide variety of options, it should be no surprise that everyone at our table ordered something different from the grill. Yet when we finally pushed our chairs back after consuming as much sushi, steak, and scallops as we could hold, we weren’t the only one happy with the menu choices. When a waiter came by to offer to-go boxes for leftovers, he found no takers—we’d all cleared our plates.
Sushi and hibachi may seem like a tough sell in the land of soul food, but Bonsai seems to have hit on a winning approach. With a combination of traditional favorites and creative southern twists, they’ve crafted a menu that offers something for everyone. We know we’ll certainly be back; we still need to try the “cookie dough” won tons!