The diner looks around, confused. "Oh when you said we were going to Teppanyaki, I was expecting a chef doing tricks at our table".
I overhear this comment from our dining neighbour. We're all seated at the huge wooden communal table which runs the length of this dim and moody Asian-themed eatery in the Ivy complex. I can only smile wryly at the confusion.
Whilst we can see the chefs at work in the open-plan kitchen, we're in no danger of being attacked by flying bowls of fried rice, or raw eggs batted toward us at lightning speed. Instead we sit beneath a row of black tasselled lampshades, in ambient lighting that is a food blogger's nightmare, whilst tended to by chic waitstaff wearing kimono-style dresses.
Tonight we're trying out the Merivale $35 Winter Feast, an offer that includes three courses at Teppanyaki, plus a glass of the nominated white wine, red wine or beer. I'm dining with Billy, Suze and Myriam.
Appetiser: King fish sashimi (2 pieces)
King fish sashimi with shiso leaf and an Asian salsa
We take the advice of our waitress and opt to share our appetisers. The king fish sashimi is served on deep-fried wonton skins, like crispy tacos, that have a satisfying crunch but perhaps overwhelm the delicacy of the king fish and shiso leaf.
Appetiser: Balmain Bug wonton (2 pieces)
Fried - sweet chilli and cucumber sauce
Balmain Bug wontons also seem a little lost in the huge expanse of crispy deep-fried wonton sheet with a tiny pocket of Balmain Bug flesh hidden within. It seems a shame to deep-fry this, and I would probably have preferred this gently poached in a miso soup.
Appetiser: Wagyu penny burger (2 pieces)
Mini wagyu beef burgers with cucumber, tomato and house sauce
Wagyu penny burgers don't fail to please. There's always a child-like appeal with miniature-sized food and we scoff these with glee.
Main: Ocean Trout
Served with crispy skin, pickled cucumber, black fungus and chilli salad
with sesame dressing
Ocean trout doesn't quite have the crispy skin promised on the menu, but the flesh is reasonably moist and flakes quite easily.
Main: Wagyu striploin 100g
Oakleigh Ranch marble score 5+ striploin with
wok-tossed shiitake, buckwheat and soybean
Between the four of us, we can't go past three orders of the wagyu striploin. It's a shame that we find all three portions a tad overcooked, the meat more chewy than melt-in-the-mouth. I do love the log of grated daikon on top the steak, and the shiitake mushrooms have a lovely meatiness to them with a slight smoky flavour. The little nutty grains of buckwheat scattered throughout give an added textural dimension.
Dessert: Black sesame ice cream with seasonal fruits
We're disappointed to discover that dessert no longer includes the sesame pannacotta raved on about by countless others. The black sesame ice cream is our consolation, the ice cream rich and creamy and topped with a black sesame studded wafer biscuit. The selection of accompanying fruits provides virtuous refreshment.
Dessert: Banana tempura with a sake chocolate fondue
Not so virtuous is the banana tempura with a sake chocoolate fondue, but that's probably why we all enjoy this dish so much. We can't detect much of a sake flavour in the chocolate fondue but there's plenty of fun to be had dripping the deep-fried battered banana segments in the pot of runny silky chocolate.
Overall this is a wallet-friendly introduction to Teppanyaki, even though deep down I really am hoping the chef will suddenly throw a few knives, bowls or salt shakers in the air.
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7/29/2009 02:31:00 am