Photo by Rūta Smith

Second Act

Jade Hibachi owner Matthew Carpio was on the set of The Righteous Gemstones six months ago filming season two of Danny McBride’s hit HBO series. 

The pandemic pushed the season’s release to 2021, leading Carpio to leave his job as post-production coordinator to open a hibachi restaurant at 271 Ashley Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Saber’s Pizza and Luke’s Craft Pizza. 

“I went to film school, and for the last four years, I’ve been working in the film industry,” Carpio said. “I worked with McBride at their offices in Mount Pleasant for the last two years. I started out as an assistant and moved my way up to post-production coordinator. I worked under some pretty talented crew members — my boss worked on Parks and Recreation, The Wire, Game of Thrones and a bunch of different shows.”

But the pandemic abruptly shut down The Righteous Gemstones production for two months — Carpio said the restart date kept getting pushed back, forcing him to contemplate his future. 

“I was just starting out from college, and I didn’t have the security like my bosses, and that scared me a lot,” he said. 

Luckily, he had a backup plan. Carpio’s father has been a chef since emigrating from the Philippines in 1990, first at a Myrtle Beach teppanyaki Japanese steakhouse and later at his own spot called Jade Hibachi, which he opened in 2005. 

Carpio spent his young adult life at Jade, learning how to make his dad’s specialty sauces. 

“He was pretty innovative with a lot of the recipes with hibachi. He would make his own ginger sauce with apple sauce to make it a little sweeter and chunkier,” Carpio said. “That’s the thing about hibachi — there are so many different variations on the sauces. The way my dad does it, most of the sauces are better versions.” 

Carpio is bringing the Jade Hibachi name to Charleston, but he plans to add his own spin to his father’s recipes at 271 Ashley Ave., a quaint space that has previously been the home of takeout pizza joints. Jade Hibachi will feature appetizers like spring rolls, gyoza and crab rangoon along with rice bowls and hibachi entrees served with vegetables and fried rice. 

Driving along the Crosstown Expressway, you’ll spot neon green lights outside the restaurant, one of the changes Carpio has made to the space. He also added a small bar inside along with multiple two-top tables outside to accommodate a maximum of 12 guests. 

“It’s very minimal, but I think we can make it work, especially during the pandemic,” said Carpio, who lives nearby in the Westside neighborhood of downtown. 

Serving accessible, affordable food will be Carpio’s top priority. Chicken, steak and shrimp bowls with fried rice will be between $6.99 and $8.99, and hibachi entrees will be around $12, Carpio said. 

The young chef hopes to immerse himself in the restaurant community by hosting pop-ups with other local chefs like Mansueta’s Nikko Cagalanan, who was born in the Philippines like Carpio’s father. 

“If they need a space or a grill they can come in and in the process we can all learn something from each other,” Carpio said. 

Jade Hibachi will debut this month. Once open, the Westside eatery will serve customers 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. 

“I can’t wait to meet everybody. I love connecting with people, and I can’t wait to have regulars.”