This was a recommendation of a colleague. I wanted to go a good teppanyaki restaurant, no gimmicks, money not the issue. Instead of the usuals in Ginza, I was introduced to this one in Akasaka. It is different from most teppanyaki restaurant as it features vegetables as its main selling point.
Origin of Teppanyaki
Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food. The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan (鉄板), which means iron plate, and yaki (焼き), which means grilled, broiled or pan-fried.
The originator of the teppanyaki-style steakhouse is the Japanese restaurant chain Misono, which introduced the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on a teppan in Japan in 1945. They soon found the cuisine was less popular with the Japanese than it was with foreigners, who enjoyed both watching the skilled maneuvers of the chefs preparing the food as well as the cuisine itself, which is somewhat more familiar than more traditional Japanese dishes. As the restaurants became popular at tourist spots with non-Japanese, the chain increased the performance aspect of the chef’s preparation, such as stacking onion slices to produce a flaming onion volcano.
[Source : Wikipedia]
However in Japan, a “proper” Teppanyaki restaurant will never resort to such gimmicks to attract its clientele. Yasaiya is one of those “authentic” Teppanyaki restaurant. Here, you sit in front of the chefs and watch their performance. All dishes are executed to perfection. Ingredients are sliced, diced and chopped in your presence, and then cooked with swift actions. Then the dish is served piping hot, so the menu is also designed with that consideration – the food served is best eaten hot and can be cooked a la minute.
Yasaiya gets its produce from all around Japan. These are the freshest picks of vegetables, legumes, fruits and tubers from different regions, and usually they are the seasonable best picks.
The dinner started with a fruit vinegar. Very unique, the sour peach vinegar helped to kickstart the appetite and pushed the hunger into overdrive.
Next, a trio of vegetarian starters.
Potato Salad was made the traditional style with no butter or mayo. Just salt and vinegar (again!) and wrapped in shiso leaf.
自家製すくい豆腐 Freshly made scooped tofu. This is a bit like our Tau Hwei, but it had a firmer texture than the dessert tofu. You can distinctly taste the bean with every scoop as it was not flavoured by any additives. If it is too bland, you can put a bit of soy and wasabi, and it would be perfect.
旬の生野菜盛り合わせ Platter of various kinds of vegetables that are currently in season. Again, no flavouring except for the natural sweetness of the vegetable and a bit of preserved plum on the side.
After a couple of cold appetisers, next was the hot appetiser. Strangely the chawamushi had a few pieces of fried vegetables – lotus root, corn, sweet potato, shishito. Very unique.
Spinach Bacon. The baby spinach was lightly sautéed on the grill while the bacon crisped on the side. Then the two were combined to give that smoky taste with lightness in the spinach. Yummy after a couple of days of Wagyu and Sashimi.
Grilled Bamboo Shoot. Bamboo shoot was in season and it was treated with the simplest of treatment, just grilled on the teppan. At the right season, bamboo shoot is sweet and crunchy with the right amount of moisture. Give it another month, it turned hard and tasteless.
おまかせ鉄板焼野菜５品盛り合わせ 5 Types of Seasonal Vegetables Teppanyaki. In the appetiser, you tried the vegetable al natural. Here, the vegetables were pan fried with very little oil. Light and tasty.
２種チーズの鉄板カプレーゼ Sliced tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, topped with basil. To me this was the piece de resistance for the evening. The simple Caprese given the teppanyaki treatment. Mozzarella cheese was pan fried just sufficiently to give a crispy crust but not enough to melt it into a grue. Every single piece of cheese was placed carefully on the fruit tomato and then sprinkled with basil dust. Final assembly, a balsamic vinegar. Loved it, I don’t think I can get this dish anywhere else.
フォアグラのステーキFoie Gras Steak. Thickly-sliced foie gras prepared with salt and pepper, then topped with sauce prepared with balsamic vinegar and wine reduction.
Japanese people have a highly refined taste for the meat used in their food, and there are over 200 brands of beef in the country. Among these, Saga Prefecture’s eponymous Saga beef is known for its impressive quality, and ranks highly in many wagyu (Japanese beef) competitions.
The history of Saga beef can be traced back to 1983, when a cattle-rearing group in Saga conducted a research program that led to the successful export of quality beef. It didn’t take long for its value to be recognized, and by 1988, Saga beef established itself as a leading beef brand. As production rapidly increased, certification requirements were established for the brand, and the sweet, rich taste of Saga beef grew to be enjoyed worldwide.
特選Ａ５黒毛和牛フィレステーキ Saga Wagyu Beef Fillet. The doneness we asked for was medium (medium rare is too oily for Wagyu). Simply eaten with salt.
活蝦夷あわび Grilled Abalone Steak. Abalone has no taste on its own and would make the worst teppanyaki ingredient. But the chef had made it delightful with hand churned Japanese butter (was that a hint of vanilla in the butter). Pan grilled to the right texture, it was a good and simple dish.
Oysters are a delicacy enjoyed the world over, and are often referred to as “sea milk” due to their high nutritional values – proteins such glycogen and amino acids, and minerals such as calcium and zinc. Japan is fortunate to be home to numerous oyster varieties, which have been consumed in Japan since the Jomon period (ca. 10,500 – ca. 300 B.C.). Japanese oysters have even been introduced around the world to help replace depleted local stocks.
Pacific (Miyagi) oysters, which are in season in winter, and Iwagaki oysters, which are in season in summer, are the two main types of oysters in Japan. Iwagaki oysters are distinctly larger than Pacific oysters, and most of them are harvested from the wild. Read on to learn about the different areas where oysters are found in Japan, and the many delicious ways to eat oysters.
Miyagi prefecture in the northeast Tohoku region of Japan is located on the Sanriku Coast, a fertile breeding area for oysters. Miyagi prefecture is famous for its “Maruemon” brand of oyster, cousin to Hokkaido’s Kakiemon oyster. Although oysters could not be harvested from Miyagi for some time following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, in recent years Miyagi oysters are starting to be eaten again.
宮城県産 夢牡蠣の鉄板焼 Pan fried Miyagi Oysters. The oysters were plump and succulent and pan fried to perfection.
ガーリックライス Rice fried with sliced garlic. Unlike the garlic fried rice in Singapore, the fried garlic was not bitter. The rice was flavoured during the cooking process and fried without eggs. It was topped with dried anchovy fries. Coupled with a pickled vegetable and a vegetable miso, it was the right end to a memorable dinner.
Desserts in Japanese restaurants are usually forgettable. If you want proper desserts, go to a dessert cafe. Yasaiya actually gave us a pretty good dessert. Cheesecake, milk ice cream with green tea mousse.
Service staff did not speak any english, so you have to find your own entertainment. Typically, in sushi bars and teppanyaki counter, the chefs will break into a friendly banter with you. Here, they did not speak any english, so you are on your own. Come with company, else it would be a really lonely dinner.
However, menu was available in English, and dinner courses are available so you do not need to stress over ordering. And you can still order drinks in English.
Alternatively, go learn some simple Japanese, that’s the proper thing to do.
Yasaiya Teppanyaki Yasai Akasaka-ten
104 Akasaka Bergo,11-14, 3chome, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
東京都港区赤坂3丁目11-14 赤坂ベルゴ 104
Tel : 03-3560-313
Date Visited : Feb 2016