Teppanyaki has been a Chinatown mainstay for years, but after new management took over in mid-2016, its popularity sky-rocketed, and endures today. The question is: why?
First impressions are good. The neon strip lighting on the front of the venue has gone, replaced with a tasteful black and white sign, conspicuous amongst the neighbouring flashy Chinatown hoardings. There’s a reason for this. As the website states: “We are all about the food and less of the gimmick.” It’s clearly something that matters to the new owners. The teppanyaki style of Japanese cooking has a chef using an iron griddle in front of diners, often performing theatrics to entertain the diners. This can be entertaining at times but runs the risk of detracting from the food itself. Teppanyaki’s aim is to bring this long-established style of cooking back to its more credible and sophisticated roots.
And it works. Even on a rainy Wednesday evening, the atmosphere is electric, every seat full of delighted diners. It’s far and away one of the most upbeat places in Manchester, with everyone full of the high spirits that only comes from being part of something special.
The atmosphere is electric, every seat full of delighted diners
From the start, one aspect rings loud and clear: the food, more than anything, is treated with the utmost respect. Our wonderfully-charming waiter takes great care to talk each diner through the menu before ordering, explaining dishes and recommending items to match the palate. This attention to detail is apparent by the first dish. Exquisite slices of salmon sashimi, expertly cut and impossibly fresh. The tempura prawns are up there with the best. Light, fluffy and with near-transparent batter, they make an ideal match for the wonderfully silky sriracha dipping sauce. The chicken and beef kushiyaki is even better – two mouth-watering skewers stuffed with hot chunks of meat, cooked in a rich sticky teriyaki sauce. Reassuringly, the wasabi is homemade, replacing the blunt heat of mass-produced stuff with a sharp tang and eye-watering flavour.
As good as they are, these small dishes are mere scene-setters for the awe-inspiring main courses. Here’s where the chef takes complete control of the table, casually chopping and slicing at lightning speed. The knife skills are undeniably impressive but done with the goal of producing quality freshly-cooked food, rather than eye-catching stunts.
The seafood combo has all the hallmarks of an award-winning dish. King prawns, scallops and salmon, swiftly cooked in a buttery soy sauce, paired with beautifully prepared rice and vegetable sides. Each element is rich in flavour but pleasingly light and clean (while lesser places overcompensate with butter and oil, Teppanyaki keep it pitch perfect). Food so good it should be eaten with your eyes closed.
The beef ozuyaki comes highly recommended. Here, the chef lays down a few slices of paper-thin carpaccio beef, rolls them up with mushrooms, spring onion and garlic, flash-fries then deftly slices the whole thing into glistening, darkly-caramelised chunks. Captivating to watch, and even better to taste. Strong, earthy flavours dominate, packed with that all-important umami smack. It’s another world-class dish that outshines most of its Chinatown rivals.
Teppanyaki removes all the panto silliness, bringing it back to what it should be: a rare opportunity to watch skilled chefs up close and personal
By now, we’re full to bursting but there’s just enough room for mochi – a frozen sorbet made from the East Asian citrus fruit yuzu and wrapped in a jelly-style pastry, with a sliced strawberry on the side. It’s delicate, dainty and smooth, providing the perfect end to a wonderful meal.
While other teppanyaki restaurants focus heavily on the show, Teppanyaki removes all the panto silliness, bringing it back to what it should be: a rare opportunity to watch skilled chefs up close and personal, working with some of the finest-quality ingredients in the city.