Teriyaki? Oh… you mean teppanyaki, don’t you?

…That really happen. It was a legit scenario, I swear.

On Friday, my dad asked me if I had ever eaten “teriyaki”. I told him, “Of course I have. I’ve ordered it quite often at Japanese restaurants.”“Huh, really? You know what teriyaki is right? The one where the food is cooked on the table?”“Um, I’m 100% sure that isn’t teriyaki… Maybe you’re referring to teppanyaki?”

Ok, truth is, I had no idea what teppanyaki actually was when I said that. I vaguely remembered that there was something called ‘teppanyaki’ but my mind was thinking more along the lines of ‘sukiyaki’.

What is teppanyaki?

As you might have guessed from the name, it’s something Japanese related. But what exactly is it?

teppan (鉄板)
“iron plate”
+
yaki (焼き)
“grilled”, “broiled”, or “pan-fried”
=
teppanyaki

I’m no expert in Japanese cuisine but here’s what the Internet says: Teppanyaki refers to dishes that are prepared using a large, flat iron griddle that is typically heated by propane gas. Such dishes include steak, beef and seafood, complete with vegetables and several sauces.

At the restaurant I ate at, we sat at a table similar to a bar counter. The griddle extended for the entire length of the table but the chef usually did his cooking at one spot, which so happened to be right in front of where I was sitting. It was… pretty awkward, but then I’m always awkward. It was pretty cool though, being able to have a good view of the chef preparing all our food from scratch, despite the steam blowing towards my right arm. Most of the time, the chef used two grill scrapers to handle the food, except for when he took out a knife to chop the cabbage.

tampines-mall-express-teppanyaki
Express Teppanyaki @ Tampines Mall | picture credit

The cooked food was then deposited onto a piece of aluminium foil in front of our plates, but it was still on the griddle so that the food would remain warm throughout the meal. My meal consisted of bean sprouts, cabbage, chicken and a bowl of rice. Compared to most Japanese meals, it wasn’t as filling, but it still tasted pretty good.

However, this concept of teppanyaki seems to be more suited for individuals or small groups of two or three. As all customers are seated in a single file, if one goes in a large group, there might be a longer wait for seats and conversations can only be held with a maximum of two people (aka the people on your left and right). Though, from what I’ve seen from the brief research I’ve done on the Internet, there are some teppanyaki restaurants where customers sit a rectangular table instead of a counter. There’s still a griddle in the middle that keeps the food warm but the cooking is done elsewhere.

All in all, it was an interesting experience and that’s one less Japanese dish I wanna try on my list. However, I doubt I’ll go back for anytime soon. For one, one meal costs at least S$10.00, which is expensive for a student like me. And it’s just not my favourite dish.


chat-with-meDo you like Japanese cuisine? What’s your favourite dish? More importantly, are you fine with me doing non-book related posts like this one??

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