Sherman Ave Interviews: Hibachi Czar Darrell Quinn
In the wake of the Great Recession, Americans are still looking for ways to save in their daily lives, preparing for when the economy may take another dive. Some have become known leaders in the cost-cutting movement, and Sherman Ave’s own Fetty Mercury (AKA Grompo) sat down with one such person, Darrell Quinn, to discuss his newest penny-pinching technique aimed at reducing those pesky Hibachi costs, as well as some of his other favorite wallet-friendly spending tactics.
Fetty Mercury: Hey Darrell, thanks for agreeing to speak with us. I’m sure everyone’s trying to get an interview with you lately.
Darrell Quinn: (Laughs) Oh no, it’s no problem. You know, I’ll get a call here and there from someone asking to talk, oftentimes a friend or family member, but not many trying to conduct and official interview or anything.
FM: Wow, I feel honored!
DQ: Haha, that’s funny. I’m glad you said that.
FM: So, how about you give us a quick rundown of exactly what it is you do?
DQ: Right so basically I go in to a hibachi restaurant, get a table, wait until the guy starts making the onion volcano, and right when he turns around to get that boy-shaped bottle that pees oil into the onions to light it on fire, I’ll take out a couple slabs of sirloin and toss it right on there.
FM: That’s astounding, I can’t believe no one’s thought of that. Where did you get the idea?
DQ: I came up with it myself. I found myself looking at my credit card statements at the end of every month, and I was saying to myself “wow, I’m spending a lot of money at various Hibachi restaurants. I can’t really keep this up”.
FM: Why didn’t you just stop going to Hibachi as much?
DQ: You see, that’s what most people do. They give up. They see these corporate elites in New York and San Fransisco, going to Hibachi nearly every night it seems, and they think “well I can’t do that. I’m not like them.” And that’s truly depressing. Life doesn’t have to be like that.
DQ: No. You shouldn’t have to be some sort of CEO or tech billionaire to be able to go, on any and every night of the week, to a strip mall Hibachi restaurant where a guy will stand in front of you and hit some knives and spatulas together really loudly for a while before cooking some B+ Chinese food.
FM: So bringing your own meat to the Hibachi restaurant is your way of remedying this inequality?
DQ: That’s right.
FM: So how fast does it cook?
DQ: Depends how you like it. Well done? About 20 minutes. Rare? You can get away with 6 or 7 minutes with frequent flipping.
FM: Do they ever tell you not to do it?
DQ: All the time, the trick is hiding the meat from the chef while it cooks, cause these chefs, to them this is their dojo, and that’s not a racial comment.
FM: And how do you do that?
DQ: I got this tweed jacket with extremely thick elbow pads, so I just casually lean forward, rest my arms on the stove, and block the meat from view.
FM: Do you ever marinate it?
DQ: Always pre-marinate. You fill a ziplock bag with some KC Masterpiece, paprika crumbs, musty hay, and some tap water for flavor, then you shove your beef in there, and let it sit in a hot parked car with the windows rolled up for at least a couple hours before you go to the restaurant.
FM: So how much does this save you?
DQ: [Chuckles knowingly] A good amount. I mean think about how much money you usually spend at hibachi restaurants, $300 a week, maybe more?
FM: Well I don’t go to hibachi that much.
DQ: You see that’s the most important part, for it to really save you money, you have to go to hibachi at least four times a week. Buy in bulk, that’s the key.
FM: I still feel like the cost of buying uncooked meat and marination supplies outweighs the money you save by only getting vegetables at the restaurant.
DQ: Listen, I’ve done the math. A 24 oz sirloin will last you about a week, roughly 4 or 5 trips to the Hibachi place, and costs about $200. And sure, week-to-week you’re spending way more money than if you just went to Hibachi every night and ordered the steak, but on a month-to-month, or even year-by-year scale, you’d be surprised.
FM: Hm. Well I’m not going to question the master.
DQ: Exactly. There’s definitely an aspect of trust involved, you need to really believe in and commit to the system to make it work for you, and not the other way around.
FM: How long has it taken you to perfect this method?
DQ: Oh it’s still growing. Every time I go by myself to Hibachi By Dave on Route 9W I feel like I learn a little more. Every time I see that egg fly up in the air and land in his hat; every time the chef starts throwing vegetables in people’s mouths and it takes someone a really long time; every time I see someone’s kids looking at the fish in that giant sad fish tank; I learn something. I grow. I get better.
FM: This sounds like a religious experience for you.
DQ: That’s a word to describe it. Divine. Mystical. Metaphysical.
FM: Do you-
DQ: I do own a thesaurus, yes.
FM: Do you have other schemes like this?
DQ: Absolutely. I invented Extreme Educational Couponing: the practice of enrolling at several universities simultaneously to get triple the student discounts — but make sure you spring for the on-campus housing, that’s where the big bucks are. And of course, cord cutting, which is my brain child.
FM: Oh, you mean ditching the cable companies and just having streaming services like Netflix or Hulu?
DQ: No, I mean when you take some scissors to the electrical box outside your house and when the Verizon guy comes to to fix it, you try and sell him some of those sweet, sentimental antiques your grandmother left in the basement.