One of my closest friend is a New Year baby, so we celebrate her birthday on New Year’s Eve. Her favorite type of restaurant is the teppanyaki style places, where they cook the food in front of you.
What is teppanyaki?
Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food. The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan which means iron plate, and yaki which means grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. In Japan, teppanyaki refers to dishes cooked using an iron plate, including steak, shrimp, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and monjayaki.
Modern teppanyaki grills are typically propane-heated flat surface grills and are widely used to cook food in front of guests at restaurants.In the United States, teppanyaki was made famous by the Benihana restaurant chain, which place an emphasis on the chef performing a show for the diners, continuing to introduce new variations and tricks. The chef might juggle utensils, flip a shrimp tail into his shirt pocket, catch an egg in his hat, toss an egg up in the air and split it with a spatula, flip flattened shrimp pieces into diners’ mouths, or arrange onion rings into fire-shooting volcanoes.
We used to go to Benihana’s and then Chomps in Fullerton, but stopped going to Benihana’s because they rush you into dining quickly, so they can prepare for the next reservation. And as for Chomps, the quality and service deteriorated over the years.
Recently we discovered Samurai, located in Fullerton, off Orangethorpe and Harbor Boulevard, opposite side of the Costco parking lot. The restaurant is a Korean owned Japanese restaurant, and has been in Fullerton for years. They originally were just a sushi restaurant, emphasizing on cut and hand rolls. Then a few years ago, they expanded the back of the restaurant, and incorporated teppanyaki.
Reservations are a must at any of these teppanyaki places. We had a 5:30 reservation, and upon seating we were given a plate of edamame (soy beans) to enjoy while we waited to order our food.
Fans of Yelp can receive 2 free Soju shots just for checking in. Each person who shows the Yelp check in are given 2 free shots.
What is Soju?
Soju is “Korea’s most popular alcoholic beverage” . While it is traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley, modern producers often replace rice with other starches such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca. Soju is clear and colorless. Its alcohol content varies from about 16.7% to 45% alcohol by volume (ABV) for traditional Andong soju, with 20% ABV being most common.
They had many flavors of Soju, and we decided on passionfruit and apple. It wasn’t a strong drink, but it did remind me of cough medicine and it just wasn’t for me. Thankfully it was free.
Our teppan chef did his job and “entertained” us, and went through the motion of the cracked egg, volcano onion and corny jokes. In the end, we had a plate with fried rice, shrimp appetizer, grilled mixed vegetables, and steak that was cooked to order. Food and service were both excellent.
For New Year’s Eve, there was no additional surcharge, but the portions seemed smaller than the last time we were there. It was still an enjoyable evening, and most of us went home with leftovers.