To eat at Teppanyaki is not simply to dine on great Japanese food in a friendly, lively atmosphere – though it is both of these things. It also offers the chance to witness an extravagant piece of culinary theatre. Meat, fish and colourful vegetables are chopped and cooked right in front of you on a sizzling hotplate (the teppan) by chefs who love to show off their skill as jugglers, percussionists, comedians and, of course, as masters of teppanyaki cuisine.
Our adventure began as we entered this underground cavern of delights, down a short flight of steps from Belgrave Street. We were shown into a comfortable bar area to peruse the menu and enjoy some chilled Japanese beer, which was the perfect beverage to accompany the tasty food ahead.
Once we’d ordered, we were taken through to the dining room, where seats are arranged around six giant hotplates. It’s a sociable dining experience as you watch the chef’s performance with your fellow diners. We both ordered set meals – a great way to enjoy the variety of textures and flavours on offer. First came crunchy salad with rich creamy dressing, followed by a mixed appetiser of bitesized morsels of Japanese delicacies: spring rolls, skewered chicken, salmon fishcake and sushi, and then a bowl of miso, which is a traditional Japanese soup. The fireworks really started with the main courses as the chef ignited a splash of oil that sent a flame flying upwards, before he sliced and diced, tossed and stirred in a rhythmic fashion. He began by cracking eggs onto the hotplate, before tossing little squares of omelette for us to catch The chef cooked each dish in turn. Mine was a Seafood Fujiyakko – succulent king prawns, soft scallops and slices of salmon. My partner’s Teppanyaki Toranaga was was a juicy, cubed and flash-fried steak cooked just the way she requested. Both came with a mound of mixed vegetables and, once the chef had completed a remarkable egg juggling act, some fried rice too. Ice cream and fruit salads rounded off an evening of great food and dazzling entertainment.