Sunday, December 16, 2007

Teppanyaki yum!

We had our Legal Department Christmas dinner on Friday at a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. It's one of those places where you're seated around an enormous grill and the chef prepares your meal right in front of you. Our department is small, only eight of us, so this kind of meal is really great for us. It was my first time at such a place and what a spectacular time it was!

Let me start by saying that I just never know what to order at these types of places. I want to try everything so browsing the menu is always takes a painstakingly long time. The "menus" always look enticing, where you order #1 or #4 and get all 7 courses (or however many there are). Then you look at the "al la carte" menu and you want to try little bits and pieces of those menu items too. You also don't know what size portions they're going to be serving so you don't want to over order but you don't want to short change yourself either, especially when it's on the company's tab!

I ended up ordering one of the pre-made "menus" and it was great choice. My starter was a piece of chicken, a piece of egg/omelet and some anchovy salad thing that I didn't eat. When I say "a piece of chicken" that was literally what it was, a bite size piece of chicken. It was delicious but I always wonder if these sort of portions are more of a tease than anything. I mean if I really fell in love with that chicken I couldn't even have another piece.

Then my second course came out as my colleagues who ordered al la carte still sat without food. It was "clear soup" as stated on the menu. I was curious as to what clear soup was going to be because really, isn't clear soup just a bowl of hot water? Otherwise wouldn't you call it "beef broth" or "chicken stock" or something... not just clear soup? My clear soup had a piece of carrot, a button mushroom and a piece of boiled pork in it. The soup was indeed clear but definitely not just a bowl of hot water. It was tasty, a bit on the salty side and hit the spot.

Then the magic began as the chef started preparing all of the other food on the grill. It was amazing to see him behead so many prawns (jumbo shrimp in the US, I think) in such a short amount of time. Seriously, one second there are little eyes looking at you and the next minute... swoosh... it was gone! He was a whiz with the extremely sharp knife and in no time those guys were grilled up and served on a side of grilled cabbage/veggie mix. I didn't have any prawns but they sure smelled wonderful.

The cooking of the fried rice before your eyes was really kind of cool. I never realized how much work actually went into making a bowl of fried rice but it's a lot more complicated than I imagined.

My next dish was part of my main course. I had grilled salmon and grilled ______ (insert name of the fillet of white fish that I can no longer think of the name of at this time) and they were both perfectly seasoned and great tasting. I have never been a fan of salmon in the past, it was always too "fishy" tasting for me but I decided to be open minded about it and I was really glad I was. It wasn't too fishy at all and is quite good for you! This part came with a side of cabbage/sprout/veg mix that was okay but nothing to write home about. It also had some grilled zucchini, mushrooms and grilled white onions which were a perfect compliment to the rest of the dish. The zucchini was so delicious and I couldn't figure out why. I watched him cut it, grill it and season it and there didn't seem to be a trick but I know my zucchini never tastes that good.

Then I had a bowl of 5 veggie salad with sesame dressing that was really great. The veggies were all julienned so I'm not quite sure what the mix was but it was a nice salad. Just enough to leave you satisfied.

Next (yeah, we weren't done yet!) came my steak which was so tender and tasty. It came with a side of steamed white rice and I think some more veg. I enjoyed every single bite of it and tried all of the sauces available and liked every single one.

Lastly came the "grand dessert" as stated on the menu. I was expecting something tall, dripping with chocolate, whipped cream, possibly on fire with a name like "grand dessert" but it was actually pretty ordinary. It was slices of fruit (pineapple, melon) with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop (European scoops are WAY WAY smaller than an American scoop... one scoop is probably a tablespoonful here) of very yummy cherry sorbet, and a tiny slice of what they call here "cheesecake" but is nowhere near what cheesecake is to me. It was all very good though and after all of the other food I ate I really didn't need a mountain of flaming chocolate/fudge/carmel/toffee/cake whatever it was I had pictured in my head.

The whole meal took a whopping 3 hours but it was well worth every minute of it. I was in great company with great food, my tummy was satisfied, not overly stuffed, what I ate was healthy and I didn't gorge myself. I got to experience a type of dining that I've never experienced before and I look forward to doing it again! I highly recommend checking out a teppanyaki restaurant near you!


john - from fat to fit said...

Coincidently the only time I have ever been to a Teppan Yaki restaurant was in Amsterdam! It was a lot of fun - especially when you get a good chef that engages with his customers by doing things like flipping egg up for you to catch in your mouth.

Anonymous said...

I'm still learning all the different terminology. I'm not sure if teppanyaki is the same, but I've been to the hibachi place near my old hometown.

I loved the small portions since it was when I was on Weight Watchers at the time, and it was grilled to order.

I still have cravings for the teriyaki chicken.