This was the first time I had ever been to a Teppanyaki restaurant in the UK. Its only my second time in a UK Japanese restaurant. The first was an awful experience 10 years ago and it had put me off them.
On this occassion, it was a works do and I thought it was a good time to try again. The fact that this restaurant was rated the number 1 restaurant on Manchester on Tripadvisor gave me some optimism!
Unlike most city centre oriental restaurants, this one was not located in or around Chinatown, indicating to me immediately that they cater mainly for western diners. When I saw the menu, my thoughts were confirmed. I was a bit disappointed that there was no squid in the menu, but understandable as it is not a popular ingredient among Brits.
However, as the evening progressed, the whole dining experience was rather interesting. It was not like anything I had ever experienced before. But before that our starters arrived. I had a rather large portion of bbq spare ribs. Unlike your typical Chinese restaurant ribs, these were really tender and succulent. I suspect they have been twice cooked .... steamed and then baked. Great start so far.
Before the chefs began cooking our meals they went throught a few unusual rituals, which were very entertaining and engaging for the diners. However, I am certain there was nothing traditional about them and certainly does not appear to have anything to do with Japanese dining rituals, but please do correct me if I am wrong.
Firstly, the chef heated some scalloped potato slices and tossed them in the air, to each of the diners to catch with their mouth. He will keep trying until you catch it, leading to food all over the floor!
Next, he juggled some of the cooking utensils, like the bartenders in Cocktail juggled bottles. Then, just for show, he lit up the flat pan with some alcohol.
When it comes to cooking the food, we could see exactly everything they put into it. I kept waiting to see if there was going to be a secret ingredient but there was nothing obvious.
And here is my portion. This alone was £17. To their credit, all the ingredients were super fresh and you could have extra portions of rice if you wanted for free. It may not look much, but I assure you it was more than I could eat.
I must say however, that the food tasted very home-cooked, and not difficult to reproduce yourself. The flat pan meant that there was no "wok hei" taste in the food. However, I ended the night satisfied enough, as the price we paid was for the entertainment as well as the food. It was definitely worth experiencing, but I dont think it is something you can do on a weekly basis without wearing out the novelty value.