Sunday, April 19, 2009
After church we decided to go out with friends to Tokyo Garden for a hibachi style (grilled)/ teppanyaki dinner. We go there at least once a year. This time there were 17 of us. Entertainment is part of the dinner so it's a fun experience specially if there are kids around. When we got settled, the waitress took our orders for drinks and entrees then passed around hot, steaming white towels using a pair of tongs. We used this to clean and refresh our hands. In Japan, some guests would use the towels to refresh their faces as well after an exhausting day at work.
We were served a dark, rich onion soup along with cold lettuce salad topped with a ginger-mayo dressing. The soup was delicious, the salad was amazingly refreshing and the dressing was spot on! The dressing is supposed to be a secret recipe...maybe someone out there can show me how to make that dressing...
Our chef then rolled his cart full of sauces and ingredients for our dinner. First, chef made sure he got all our entree orders right. He asked us to choose our dipping sauces--garlic butter, mustard or ginger. But of course, I asked for two portions of garlic butter!! The food performance began with chef displaying his juggling skills with cooking utensils. The fun part was about to come.... before each teppanyaki dinner ("teppan" refers to the griddle or hot plate; "yaki" means to grill), the chef would typically flame up the table-sized aluminum hotplate. Chef squirted clear liquid (probably vodka or some kind of alcohol) on the teppan/ hotplate and lit it...bursting into a spectacular flame! I believe the flame adds not only drama but also "wok hai" flavor to teppanyaki cooking. It was so hot, sometimes I wonder if chef's eyebrows sometimes get singed at least once each evening!!
"Japanese spaghetti" was the first thing chef prepared on the teppan. Butter was slathered on cooked spaghetti then "Japanese ketchup" (soy sauce) and "Japanese tinker bell" (pepper) were added. It was served to everyone with a liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds. Then, it was time for egg acrobatics-- egg was rolled on the teppan, flipped several times into the air with a metal spatula and finally a whack in midair to break it. Broken egg shells were pushed to the side and chef added butter to cook the egg for the Japanese fried rice.
For individual entrees, chef laid out meats on the teppan to cook - chicken, then salmon and steaks. Entertainment came in the form of an erupting onion volcano. Onion rings were stacked in the middle of the teppan to resemble Mt. Fuji. After a generous squirt of alcohol, chef lit it and doused ketchup, teriyaki sauce and pepper for the bubbling lava and fireworks effect---very exciting and a hit even for us grown-up kids!! I strongly suspect one of the first criteria to become a teppanyaki chef is to be a pyromaniac! Our fire bug chef later cut up the onion volcano for the veggie stir-fry and served it with meat entrees.
Finally, I must say my salmon and steak combo was excellent-- succulent and perfectly cooked!!
Everyone was completely satisfied and enjoyed the dinner....that is.... until the bill came!!!