Sapporo Teppanyaki is a full on experience with plenty of drama along the way. The food is fresh, aromatic and served with a flourish. This is as far removed from the mechanised sushi type environment with dishes circuiting on a conveyor belt with as little human interaction as you can get. We were here to sample the Mother’s day menu, and although we’d dined at Japanese restaurants before, had not tried Teppanyaki so didn’t quite know what to expect.
Teppanyaki is a fast and fresh style of Japanese cooking. The word ‘teppan’ actually refers to the oversized red hot griddle used to cook with and to “yaki” which translates as ‘grill’. Cooking Teppanyaki style is carried out with spirit and verve. There are no strict rules. Meat, fish, vegetables and pulses are whisked around the griddle and transformed into tasty dishes before your eyes. The chefs are highly skilled and develop their own style through years of practice.
Sapporo Teppanyaki has taken this heritage and turned it into their own restaurant dining concept. We were quite taken aback by the drama that unfolded after sitting at our table. You could tell this was no ordinary dining experience from the start, as we were seated surrounding the vast griddle. The star of the show, our chef, then entered centre stage. It began modestly enough as he sautéed some potatoes as the waiter took our orders. We soon realised though what was in store as the chef invited some fellow diners to catch a potato that he flipped at them in their mouths. After adjusting to this new kind of performance cookery we found ourselves clapping and gurgling our approval as the chef cooked our dinner and entertained us at the same time. Knife juggling and launching eggs into the air only to catch them in his pockets and on the top of his hat followed much to the amazement of the kids.
He then moved onto the main dishes. Two of us had gone for the lamb and a really nice fillet of meat went onto the hot plate to be expertly sliced and cooked in sauce with a flourish. At the same time the chef had rice side dishes, stir fried vegetables and the plum chicken fillet that I’d gone for cooking in other sections of the griddle. As we watched we nibbled on our starters of smoked chicken and vegetable spring rolls.
Our main dishes were served straight to our plates from the griddle. Not only was the theatre great fun enjoyed by kids and adults alike, but it was brilliant to see your food prepared before your eyes and the freshness and quality of the ingredients. His job done, our chef departed stage left to much applause. The chicken was succulent and flavoursome but the lamb was even better. It had a nice kick but mainly it was packed with subtle flavours and was cooked medium rare as we’d asked. The side dishes were again very tasty and fresh with crunchy carrots and vegetables and a great egg fried rice. We washed it down with a glass of Prosecco that comes free to the mum with the Mother’s Day Menu.
The children then dug into their deserts of thick dark Italian ice cream in a leaf shaped wafer. This rich Italian ice cream was not the rather sad, pale stuff often dished out to kids but dark chocolate and vibrant strawberry made by a real Italian gelateria. My partner opted for some rather cheeky chocolate spring rolls which were served warm one filled with dark and the other with white chocolate inside a sweet pastry roll. A nice way to finish off our culinary adventure.
As a piece of theatre, a visit to Sapporo Teppanyaki is a treat for young and old alike and one which we are sure to repeat. The food also delivers with fresh high quality ingredients conjured up into tasty subtly spiced dishes, but maybe not the place for a romantic supper for two.
Sapporo Teppanyaki have restaurants in Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. See www.sapporo.co.uk for menu details.