When we were invited to review the special menu at one of the participating restaurants of Citibank Restaurant Week India, we were immediately drawn to Teppan – the reviews we heard were great, and yeah, we’re both suckers for Japanese food!
As soon as P and I walked into the restaurant (perched above Benjarong in Ulsoor), we were ushered to the teppanyaki grill. Now here’s the interesting part. The grill is quite large and is bordered by a communal table and chairs, so there’s a chance you’ll end up having dinner with strangers. But you won’t have much time to chat though, save for the many choruses of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ you’ll sing through the evening on account of the chef’s antics. But more on that later.
When we were presented with the special Restaurant Week menu, we were surprised to see no sushi on it. Which is a shame, since Teppan’s sushi has made a mark on the city’s culinary map. But what was there was quite impressive – soup, salad, starters, main course options and dessert – with plenty of options under each. And hey, at a very reasonable Rs. 750+ plus per head, I guess any complaints about the lack of sushi would be unfair!
Soon, we were served with the first course of the evening, Sartori Sarada and Tori Sarada, vegetarian and chicken salad, respectively. Though similar in presentation, the Sartori Sarada stood out, with the avocado, lettuce, carrots and cucumber coming meshing beautifully with the chef’s special wasabi dressing. A tastier, cooler cousin of the coleslaw, if you will.
Next up was the soup. We tried Tsurai, a clear vegetable soup with a hint of lemon. This was a stunner – simple, clean and delicious, balancing the flavour of all the vegetables without being overpowering. The Miso Soup is an acquired taste, but it was nourishing, and, as the manager told us, “very good for health.” The last soup we tried was Gomuku, a seafood soup served with wakame (seaweed) and egg white. Once again, the chef allowed the simple flavours of this soup to speak, making it quite memorable.
By now, Yaki Nasu, the first starter had arrived. The plate bore sliced eggplant, slathered in miso sauce. It was a combination that worked really well; the eggplant was slightly caramelised, deliciously echoed by the sweet sauce. The Tori Kara Age, diced chicken marinated with ginger, soy and sesame seeds, was a bit of a disappointment. We couldn’t really taste any of the spices so it could very well have Colonel Sanders’ stamp on it. The Sakana Katsu, crumb fried sea bass, proved to be a little bland as well. It was beautifully cooked, though.
But this proved to be a temporary hiccup. By now, the chef’s attention was on us, as it was time for the grilled mains. Chef June is a born entertainer (the two of us agree that the theatre has truly missed a star!).
Now, to describe what this man does behind the grill in words wouldn’t be doing justice to his art, but I’m going to try my best. He flips eggs in the air, which land perfectly in his toque, and strategically cracks them in mid-air. Seasoning containers turn into percussion instruments in his hand, he draws hearts with egg yolk and fried rice (and yes, this rice heart also beats). He even performs card tricks and maintains a fun, flippant conversation throughout your meal.
The first dish he showcased was fish grilled in sweet oyster garlic sauce. I could have eaten three of these on an empty stomach – it was that good. What made my taste buds really sit up and take notice was the Assorted Grilled Greens – Chinese cabbage, pokchoi, asparagus, scallions, broccoli, leeks and spinach. Healthy, simple and very, very nice, with the added benefit of “making us prettier!” as Chef June said. Well, the man’s definitely a charmer! We chose to have the Grilled Tenderloin medium-rare. Highly recommended for its steamy, succulent flavour. The Japanese barbeque sauce really did wonders for the meat.
Yaki Udon Vegetables, thick wheat noodles grilled in tonkatsu sauce was next, served with Tofu with Bean Sprouts (waist-watchers everywhere, this one’s definitely for you!). If you, like me, love greasy Chinese noodles, I suggest you don’t try the Yaki Udon. Your passion for the former will definitely diminish – these noodles are beautifully cooked, delicately flavoured and all-in-all delicious. We loved the merry crunch of the vegetables in the dish.
By now we were quite stuffed, which was unfortunate, as the last dish of the day, Tori Yakimishi, was superb. The fried rice had all the good things in life – egg, chicken and tons of garlic – and the rice itself was slightly sticky. Chef June served it with an interesting nugget of information – no man in Japan can get married before he learns how to cook rice. Rather useful, don’t you think?
You can pick three desserts from the generous spread at the end of your meal. We had the Blueberry Mousse, Cappuccino Shot, an orange-flavoured mousse and other such sweet endings. And yes, the desserts change every day.
We left Teppan in a happy food-induced daze. The meal was great, and Chef June only made it better. For those who want to explore Japanese cuisine without being faced with anything too out there, the RWI menu is ideal. And Rs. 750 + plus tax for dinner AND a show? Now how can one say no to that? Visit http://www.restaurantweekindia.com to book a table.