The last few weeks have been very special when it comes to Japanese cuisine. After a tasting at three Michelin star Sushi Shikon – one of only two Japanese restaurants outside Japan to hold this honour – there were 6 days in Tokyo and Kyoto enjoying some of the finest kaiseki and sushi on the planet. Those stories are to come.
A trip to Bali for the vegetarian’s birthday also bought some Japanese cuisine, in the form of dinner at Ko at the lovely Intercon Bali resort. Now while this isn’t Japan – and the chefs are Indonesian – it says a lot that their cuisine can be so effective – and importantly, so fun. First, sunset cocktails are no hardship. At all:
For under HK$500 per head you get seven courses of theatrical cooking. It’s easy to be dismissive of the interactive teppanyaki experience, but to do so misses the point. It’s fun, it’s silly and a way to allow you to meet and interact with fellow diners in a way that very rarely happens in other restaurants.
On the walls, black and white photos of Tokyo remind you of the spiritual home, while a black and red design motif runs throughout. In experiences in Japan, teppanyaki is a demonstration of supreme skills, honed after years of service – but it can be quite a serious pursuit with none of the showmanship or laughter that you get here.
After edamame and Tuna sashimi came some tempura, salmon sashimi with yuzu and a California roll. The California roll sometimes gets laughed at, but it was invented by a Japanese sushi chef – in Vancouver – someone who was subsequently honored by his homeland as a ‘cultural ambassador’.
Of course the grill is the main star though and our young chef masters it with dizzying speed and ease, an Edward Scissorhands tornado of chops and shakes, lifts and scrapes. This theater of cooking reminds you not to take yourself too seriously – and also makes me wish I had room for a teppan at home.
First came mixed veg with bean sprouts, then great prawns in kewpie
‘Sangat bagus;! As they say here – in other words, ‘that’s bloody lovely’. Tuna was the business:
While the Beef with garlic disappeared in seconds.
A final flourish of flame bought a flambéed banana pancake with ice cream
Teppanyaki brings out the kid in us all. And that can only really be a good thing.