Japanese food, particularly sushi, once upon a time, never appealed to me. I always thought it was too slimy, too fishy. Even maki. My mouth did not understand it. I did not like it. Very ignorant, I know.
Then one day, as I was meeting the family of my current boyfriend (for the first time mind you), they brought me to an all-sushi restaurant. Again, this was the first meeting. Everything on the menu was either sushi maki or nigiri or a variation of both. I didn’t want them to think I was a choosy bitch. I sucked it up and ate what was in front of me, which — to my surprise — tasted divine! It was one of those serendipitous moments that made me realize just how stupid I was and how much I was missing.
All that little story to say that now — I’m hooked. Hooked! If it’s Japanese, let’s go! Sometimes, I don’t even care if it’s not that good. One day, I dream of eating this kind of food in Japan. But for now, I’m eating where I am. SM North Edsa. Or in this case, SM North Towers. My apartment is literally a stone’s throw away from here.
I’ve never heard of Teppanya before, but I get the feeling it’s been around for quite some time. This particular Teppanya is located in SM North Towers, the new building that’s connected directly to SM North Annex.
The restaurant itself looked grand like you were in a fancy banquet. Almost all the dining tables were arranged in a bar-style set-up. I love how spacious it was. Everything appeared slick and dim with yellow lights peppered under the tables. The black marble table top made me feel like I was dining in a five-star restaurant.
So far so good. Jed and I ordered two separate menus so we can try to taste as much as we can. Jed ordered the premium five-course starter set and for the teppan — the sukiyaki cut. I ordered the 6-kinds nigiri platter. We then shared a créme brulee for dessert.
Before I get into the food, I did a quick search on what “Teppanyaki” means. Apparently, teppanyaki is a post-World War II Japanese cuisine that refers to food cooked in a teppan – an iron griddle with a flat surface. A teppanyaki chef usually cooks in front of the diner. And that is exactly what we experienced at Teppanya.
The first three courses of the starter set consist of stir-fried mixed vegetables, tuna tataki, and miso soup. All tasted as they should. I love stir-fried vegetables and this one has a bit of a bitter kick, like charred oyster sauce, perhaps?
I love the tuna tataki. The ahi tuna slid into my mouth with just the right citrus and soy sauce brine to it. We fought for the last bite, let’s just say.
For our main course, we shared a sukiyaki cut cooked teppanyaki style of course. This one is delicious. They added a “secret sauce” that made all the difference. The meat was tender and juicy with the umami flavor oozing on every piece. I loved it. Jed adored it. And it’s not that expensive, which made it even more delicious. Am I right or what?
And for the star of the show — the 12-piece nigiri platter with six kinds of nigiri. What a beautiful plate of sushi!
Let’s get one more shot of it because, well, I got a LOT.
From top left clockwise: Maguro (tuna), Tamago (egg), Hata (lapu-lapu), Saba (mackerel), Unagi (eel), and Shake (salmon).
And the winner goes to the Hata nigiri sushi. I have had this before, for sure, but this is the first time where I’ve paused to savor it and notice how good it truly tasted. The lapu-lapu white meat had a very clean almost sweet and silky taste that’s incredibly refreshing to the palate.
The saba nigiri also stood out to me due to its very fishy sardine flavor. Para akong kumain ng paksiw (fish dish cooked in vinegar). Light paksiw with quite a salty aftertaste.
I wasn’t too keen with the unagi. Or as my notes would have it, “I hated the one with brown sauce and fish skin.” I reckon this one is an acquired taste. All I remember is how much salt I tasted to the point that it was offputting.
The tuna and salmon nigiri are both staples so I really have nothing new to say to these two. Like well-cooked white rice, it was good.
And finally, I have a soft spot for tamago. I love love love tamago. This egg omelet is basically a pared-down rendition of an egg custard or leche flan, a more-than-welcome respite to all the seafood in sushi.
To cap off our meal, Jed chose the créme brulee over the banana flambé. Nothing extraordinary for this dessert. Was it good? Yes. A sweet, if not uneventful, dessert. Interestingly, the fresh cherry was an unexpected palate cleanser.
Teppanya was an overall great experience. Food was on-point — reasonably-priced considering we were able to share a diverse selection of dishes between two people. The sushi, for me, is a must. And so is the sukiyaki cut. The starter set was hit and miss. I’d probably go for two more ala-carte dishes next time. Because, for sure, this place deserves a next time.