Sapporo Teppanyaki Manchester, 91-93 Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4JN – Visit Now
You don’t go to Deansgate’s Sapporo Teppanyaki for a relaxed, sophisticated dining experience. Your food is cooked by ‘show chefs’, with an emphasis on the show. Upbeat to the point of giddiness, when they’re not flicking morsels of food into people’s mouths, they’re performing light-speed knife tricks like an end of level boss.
For a group of friends, it makes for an ideal warm-up for a night on the town. What could be more fun than watching an old mate trying to catch a piece of potato in his mouth like a circus seal? Even on a Sunday evening, the place is packed with groups of people of all ages, backgrounds and varying degrees of tipsy.
Apparently, each Japanese chef has a minimum of five years training in the art of teppanyaki cooking. The ingredients are pleasingly fresh, most notably the seafood, everything cut with precision and skill. Oil and salt are used liberally, sometimes overwhelmingly so. It might be Japanese cuisine, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this is light healthy eating. It’s stomach-lining food that goes hand-in-hand with pre-drinks.
The chicken fillet with asparagus is a pleasingly original dish. Slender pieces of chicken, rolled around crunchy hot asparagus and sliced into fat little wheels, coated with a sticky teriyaki style sauce. The lobster and the prawns are reliably good, although the beef sirloin arrives more medium than rare. Frustratingly, the vegetables lack crunch due to an over-reliance on oil. The fried rice is fine, overflowing with squeaky lumps of egg, although it may be too salty for some palates.
What could be more fun than watching an old mate trying to catch a piece of potato in his mouth like a circus seal?
One item stands out for all the wrong reasons. Tacos sashimi. For some unknown reason, taco sashimi has become something of an in food in recent years. Sashimi is a delicacy based around the freshness and the cut of the meat or fish – to spend this much effort producing it, only to cram it inside a crunchy taco shell is nigh-on criminal. This is high-grade salmon and tuna – it deserves better than this. We all do.
Thankfully, the desserts make up for it. The cheesecake impresses with a dense base and light cream, decorated with blackcurrants and mint leaves. The coconut ice cream is a fine end to a rich meal, light and silk, topped with a single blackberry.
Sapporo Teppanyaki won’t be for everyone. The theatrics dominate the meal, to the extent it becomes panto-dining, and while it’s certainly entertaining (the chefs appear to enjoy it as much as, and often more than, the diners) it can become exhausting. When the food is good, it’s very good, but some of the more gimmicky elements take away from the quality of the ingredients and the skills of the chefs. For better or worse, the atmosphere is ramped up to 11, making it ideal for big parties and boozy gatherings. A romantic meal for two? Not here.