Japanese cuisine has become increasingly popular in recent years, but Shiro of Japan was well ahead of the curve, establishing the first traditional sushi and hibachi restaurant on Long Island in 1972.
The name Shiro, which means “castle” in Japanese, was chosen for its symbolism, besides representing the main mission of the Carle Place locale: to provide exceptional service and authentic Japanese dishes — a commitment that the restaurant has fulfilled during the last four decades.
“We try to keep the food as authentic as possible,” says Peter Faccibene, one of the two owners. “The food is based on authentic recipes that Hiro brought from Japan,” he adds, referring to his partner, Hiro Ishikawa, who also serves as executive chef.
The duo took over Shiro of Japan in 2003. Three years later, Ishikawa and Faccibene took advantage of their success and together opened a second Shiro, in Queens. And in October 2013, Shiro of Japan opened its first fast-food restaurant, in Grand Central Terminal.
“Right now we are focusing on making the three restaurants we have as good as possible,” says Faccibene. To celebrate, during the month of September customers visiting any branches will be given a free glass of house wine.
The most characteristic feature of this Japanese restaurant is that it introduced hibachi-style cuisine on LI, an artistic form of cooking known as teppanyaki; teppan means “iron or steel plate” and yaki, “stir-fried food.” The restaurant, a culinary novelty in the 1970s, was quickly recognized for its unique style of cuisine and its chefs.
“A big part of our business is the hibachi,” Faccibene says. “The best thing about the hibachi is that it transcends all things, because it is a place where people gather to celebrate. You can seat two people at the table with six others who do not know each other — and by the end of the night, everyone is celebrating the experience of having dinner together; because the chef is there to entertain and cook.”
With Shiro of Japan, Ishikawa continues his 30-year passion for educating aspiring chefs. This is especially evident when Ishikawa turns his kitchen into a classroom for young students from local schools. Many restaurant employees and chefs who trained and worked with Ishikawa have gone on to prestigious positions in well-known Japanese restaurants such as the famous New York Nobu and the popular Long Island Kotobuki.
“The majority of our staff has been with us for a long time,” Faccibene adds. “We have some people working with us for 30 years who started as assistants and have grown to become hibachi chefs.”
Shiro of Japan has also developed catering and wholesale businesses, plus regular food service to more than 30 cafeterias in schools, corporate dining halls and government agencies in the New York metropolitan area. Shiro of Japan offers its customers a wide variety of sushi dishes and traditional Japanese cuisine, prepared by chefs at the venue.
Ishikawa’s creations have become popular throughout the country and are part of the restaurant’s special dishes, including jake with chopped shrimp and crab with mayonnaise and fish egg, and the black dragon, which consists of jake inside with avocado, eel, tobiko, chives and sweet eel sauce on top. They even have a sushi taco.
“It’s funny: Not much on Long Island, but in our Queens business, there’s a little more Latino influence because we have a bigger Hispanic population in that restaurant — and some of our hibachi dishes are cooked with a little more spice,” says Faccibene. “For some of the sushi dishes, the chef makes a special of the week based on what people ask for.”
Without a doubt, diners from LI to Manhattan enjoy the quality and authenticity of Japanese cuisine at Shiro of Japan.
“It’s a fun place to dine. It’s a dinner and a show,” he says.
Shiro of Japan is located at 401 Old Country Rd., Carle Place. They can be reached at 516-997-4770 or shiroofjapan.com