Set the night ablaze at Kume Japanese Restaurant. Opened in July of 2014, Kume is a standout in busy Brickyard Square in Epping, New Hampshire. Modern floor-to-ceiling natural stone walls, etched glass dividers, and ample lighting in the main dining room contrast with the lightly colored and impressive well-stocked bar. Along the back side of the restaurant chefs are abuzz at the sushi bar, showcasing a rainbow of fresh sashimi atop boats and decorative plates. Mahogany walls and gray stone are backlit to complement the inviting espresso-toned leather chairs that frame the rectangular stainless steel grills in the habachi dining room. Smartly dressed chefs, at home behind the grills, set the expectation that this is not your everyday dining experience.

Owners Nina Lin and Alan Chen are not new to the restaurant industry, “It’s a family business. We lived in New York, where there were many fantastic Japanese restaurants. We wanted to bring an authentic habachi experience to Epping,” says Lin, whose family also owns Wasabi in Salem, New Hampshire.

Kume chefs let more than their creativity fly. Each hibachi table can seat up to 12 people. Chefs turn on the grills and spatulas spin as the show begins. Flames shoot from magic towers made of thick onion slices, and shrimp soar into mouths of welcoming patrons. Perfectly timed Habachi Dinners are prepared on the grill with choices that include chicken, shrimp, New York steak, and more, served with soup, salad, shrimp appetizer, and grilled fried rice. For something more indulgent, consider the Habachi Lobster, two luscious lobster tails grilled to show off the pink shell, served over rice. Or perhaps, a tender Habachi Filet Mignon, cut, seasoned, and grilled to perfection in front of your eyes.

Appetizers can be ordered at the habachi or the main dining room. The Kume Appetizer Spoon combines the smooth taste of tuna and yellow tail with a decadent lobster salad, roe, and citrus ponzu sauce, garnished with watercress. Sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, chicken, and shrimp are delicately breaded and lightly fried until buttery gold for traditional Tempura with soybased dipping sauce. On the lighter side, the Crystal Roll is a soft and healthy alternative, with julienned shrimp, carrots, and mango packaged in a clear rice wrap and served with a special dipping sauce which includes peanuts, coconut milk, and sweet chilies.

The habachi entertainment is great, but there is plenty more to explore on the extensive menu. Popular sushi choices include the surprisingly sweet Beauty and the Beast, where yellowtail and tuna are complemented by a sweet miso sauce, and Lady in Red dances on the spicy side with tuna, avocado, and yuzu sauce. Thick rice noodles mingle with chicken and shitake mushrooms, tossed with an oyster sauce in the generous serving of Chicken Yaki Udon. Flavors of Thai basil, red onion, green and red peppers, and sugar snap peas pop and crunch in the refreshing Basil Chicken.

When it comes to Kume’s drink menu, their libations can be summed up in one word: sake. The Kume Mojito includes freshly muddled mint, Bacardi Rum, Gekkeikan Sake, simple syrup, and a splash of club soda trimmed with a lime. Fresh cuts of cucumber calm the kick of the Sake Martini, which combines Absolute Vodka and sake. New to sake? The Sake Sampler will ease your palate into experiencing the nuances of this fine fermented rice wine.

If you’ve possibly left any room for dessert, try Japanese Mochi Ice Cream, pounded sticky rice with an ice cream center, in flavors of green tea, strawberry, and vanilla. Or throw caution to the wind for the Tempura Cheesecake, a must-try extravagance with a crispy warm outer layer protecting the rich and cool cheesecake inside—an over-the-top finish to a flavorladen evening.

Kume Japanese Steak House
24 Calef Hwy, Brick Yard Square Plaza
Epping, NH