Keyakizaka: Top tier Tokyo teppanyaki treats
The first thing to capture your attention in this Michelin-starred restaurant on the fourth floor of Roppongi Hills is the wide selection of vegetables behind the long, iron grill. This time of year, various root vegetables, mushrooms and kabocha (squash) are some of what you’ll see. Their names are spelled out in Japanese, but ask your chef and he can tell you they are in English.
The course starts with foie gras, seared on the teppan grill and served with caramelized figs and a sweet balsamico sauce. The kinmedai (alfonsino) and seasonal vegetables are tied up in what appears to be plastic wrap, heated directly on the grill—a dramatic presentation. When the bag is opened after cooking, the fish has infused the vegetables with an ocean aroma that wafts over the table.
The kuroge wagyu (Japanese Black beef), while streaked with fat, is still a very succulent cut. Grilled with eggplant and bell pepper, the steak is cut into slices and served with two sauces, goma (sesame) and tomato. The dish that follows is uni (sea urchin) grilled with rice and decorated with nori and a fried quail’s egg. The uni lost some of its supple texture when cooked, but was still extravagant.
Watching the chef create each dish contributes as much to the sensory experience as the simple but mouthwatering tastes—one of the true pleasures of teppanyaki. Before grilling each serving, he presents the ingredients, like a sommelier the first sip of wine, and only then does preparation begin.
Keyakizaka offers a selection of mostly New World wines, with many biodynamic or organic selections. From the short list of nihonshu, we chose the rich Kuro Obi Yamahai Junmaishu (¥2,100) to complement the lunch.
Our meal ends with the chef caramelizing a strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry clafoutis (a crustless, flan-like tart) with a cooking torch. We were then escorted to a lounge area to finish with dessert and a coffee.
It’s a creative and international take on teppanyaki with flavors absorbed into this traditional Japanese cuisine from all over the world. The restaurant is a bit hard to find so allow some time to get lost—your efforts will be rewarded.
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