• Teppankai (South Yarra)

Some say success is all about real-estate.  In the case of Bray Street, this could be true.  Despite its close-to-Chapel-Street locale, the turnover has left me bemused with what seems like a new establishment every time I pass this strip of eateries.

Entering Teppankai I realise, it doesn’t fit the norm of other restaurants here.  It is spacious, open and, rather than tempting customers with drinks, it focuses on quality, modern Japanese food with a touch of teppanyaki flair.  We had been invited by owner, Richard Tan for a bloggers dinner – it ended up being quite the party.

With mood lighting and a mysterious air to the right, this could be a good location for first-daters.  With the teppanyaki  plates and open glass front to the left, it could also be a fun spot for children or a sociable meal with a friend.  The interior is modern, massive and merry with us eager bloggers catching up on our favourite eateries and snapping away more pics than paparazzi.

Spinach was served with shitake mushrooms in a light soy.   The spinach had been blanched then chilled to room temperature with soft flavours of soy, sugar and sesame. 

Vegetarian agedashi tofu is always a winner with me.  The tofu was firm with a salty, flavoursome, more-ish sauce more like a soup.  Crushed white radish garnished, as did spring onion.  The tofu batter was appropriately crisp.  This went down well with a creamy Asahi beer.

The vegetarian version of sushi arrived with sesame, cucumber, avocado and light pink pickled ginger.  I enjoyed this dish for its freshness and the balance of the soft avocado with the crunch of the cucumber.

Veggie tempura was done with zucchini flowers; shredded and combined zucchini, carrot and onion; mushroom, sweet potato and pumpkin.  The batter was light and well cooked in hot oil.   The pumpkin was delectably sweet.  To accompany this, I tasted the refined, sweet sake.

Another tofu dish followed, still fried in agedashi style but this time with sliced mushrooms, spring onion, carrot, zucchini and a teriyaki sauce.

While I was enjoying a smorgasbord of animal free fare, I admired the chefs whipping up bites for the others.  It seemed theirs were more complicated and showy.  I appreciated the simple and tasty flavours of mine.

Dessert was a Japanese take on Italian tiramisu – made so by the addition of black sesame.  Sesame syrup and rum infused the mascarpone.  The sponge fingers were moist, despite not being soaked fully through.    Between each layer of cake was more sesame syrup like a glue holding the sponge together.  The staff admitted to spending months perfecting this dish – they didn’t want it to be too sweet, nor too strong.  I believe they got it about right.

With so much food and atmosphere at the party that night, the experience was almost overwhelming.  Teppankai has managed to survive for months... it may even turn the unknown Bray Street into a hub for success.

34 Bray St 
South Yarra 3141
03 9827 8822
Teppankai on Urbanspoon