Teppankai treats us to tradition
Move over Mexican this year is all about Pan Asian, a fusion of south East Asia’s culinary continents.
I fell in love with Pacific rim fusion back in the 80s and 90s working in London. I found myself on the tube reading a book called Terrific Pacific, it was cook book all about talented Antipodean chefs - the likes of Neil Perry, Geoff Lindsey, David Thompson, Christine Mansfield, Peter Gordon, and some guy called Tetsuya.
The food was electric, exciting, and new to my very European training and tastes. I was hooked and found myself searching for these flavours in Chinatown and posh Japanese restaurants, like the Suntory in St James. Then Nobu opened his first London venue which changed how I perceived Japanese food and cuisine traditions.
Moving to Australia satisfied my culinary education and also taught me the importance of authenticity! Which brings me to a hidden gem of authenticity and friendly fusion, Teppenkai Restaurant. Tucked behind Chapel Street, near the Jam factory, you'll find swish modern Wayne Finchi interiors, first class humble service, precise sashimi, clean healthy produce focused teppenyaki, tapas, and a la carte.
It’s a great looking venue and a perfect oasis from the cafe cane toad that has hit Chapel Street. The Teppenkai menu has so much on offer - possibly too much! But this venue is defiantly giving its talented and authentic kitchen a red hot Teppanyaki go, as we discovered.
Sat atop the menu, we were offered 3 choices of set menu: Kai Shomi degustation $89; Kai Tokubetu signature $69; Omakase $60;
We opted for the Kai Shomi banquet. 1st course was a visually stunning array of small and medium size dishes of braised snapper cheek in dashi broth w slow cooked daikon radish, tempura of nori rolled fish, pork gyoza, precise Yakitori, slow cooked pork belly, and crab salad wrapped in nori w barramundi & finished w flamed aioli.
A mostly successful assembly of delicious Japonesque appetisers, with the just the snapper over cooking through this feast. Next was some rockstar sashimi, respectful and precise. This was followed by our chef firing up the teppanyaki grill. No Santa Claus red hats or Benihana’s onion ring tossing here, just amazing seafood! Dry and sweet Scallops, caramelised and seared A grade Tassie Salmon, and XL Leader Prawns - all cooked perfectly with clean and authentic flavours.
Next, our chef returned with a top notch grass fed beef fillet, plump lamb chops, traditional teppanyaki vegetables and some classic fried rice. Again grilled and seasoned precisely and sliced to dip into miso mustard, soy, and mirin based sauces. It was a titanic portion of authentic goodness!!
By now we're over eating and heating a tad too much from our glowing grill so we took a break and enjoyed our drinks chosen from a polite list of new and old world classics whilst admiring the venue. The only gripe was the music, which wasn’t our muse, but this is a venue sailing through competitive and trendy waters, evolving to the demands of an ever changing market.
With all things considered, the team and venue are doing extremely well. Hats off to the dedicated owner and exemplary team for creating an outstanding venue whilst staying true to their traditions - still with so much potential to continue its evolution of new fusion frontiers, if it so chooses.
I look forward to returning for the clean teppanyaki and precise sashimi, some new produce heroes, and to see how the chef and menu is evolving.
What Wilson says - It's a fine establishment of the traditional adapting gently to the re-birth of Pan Asian dining rooms and Chapel St bars.
When can we go - Monday to Thursday: midday to 2.30pm & 5.30pm to 10.00pm; Friday & Saturday: midday to 2.30pm & 5.30pm to 11.00pm;