Nowadays, many people are familiar with the teppanyaki cuisine, the Japanese art of cooking on a hot griddle in front of guests. Teppanyaki restaurants have gained enormously in popularity and the number of teppanyaki restaurants has increased steadily over the years. In this blog you read about the origin of this widely spread cooking style and how the principle of sharing your table with other guests found its way to culinary acknowledgement by many.
Teppanyaki literally means ‘grilled on an iron plate’ (teppan = iron plate, yaki = grill). In Japan, this is probably the oldest method of preparing food, invented when the Japanese grilled their fish on a shovel above an open fire. Slowly, this evolved into the sophisticated teppan grill that we know today. Teppanyaki may therefore not be authentic, but it is definitely a time-honoured tradition; one that started in the port of Kobe. In 1945, the first teppanyaki restaurant was opened by a chef who wanted to attract non-oriental guests. Meat was key, he felt, because Western people like to eat meat, while the traditional Japanese kitchen is more about fish. He was right: the restaurant became a big success in Kobe. Although it is inspired by Western habits, he added a lot of Japanese elements, most prominently the way of cooking – on a hot plate, surrounded by guests. This is a variant of the Okonomiyaki culture, a traditional Japanese way of cooking. Other Japanese elements were the use of chopsticks and the high quality of ingredients. This formed the foundation for the teppanyaki kitchen.
The art of cooking
The chefs of Teppanyaki Restaurant Sazanka at Hotel Okura Amsterdam emphasise that there is a big difference between both variants of the teppanyaki kitchen. “The American way is all about showmanship and the quality of the ingredients is of minor importance.” In the Okonomiyaki tradition, however, quality is paramount. In Sazanka one finds latter; the team demonstrates that their exquisite cooking is not a ‘show-and-throw’ spectacle often associated with teppanyaki cuisine. Fish, meat and vegetarian dishes, side dishes and desserts are presented with gastronomic allure, in which the quality of the ingredients is of central importance.