Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
Teppanyaki Cuisine - The Best Restaurants In Tokyo, Kyoto, And Osaka
Teppanyaki is a cooking method that uses hot iron plates. This article introduces basic information on iron plate cooking in Japan, recommended restaurants in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and also how to cook okonomiyaki at home.
Written by Sawada Tomomi
Table of Contents
What Is Teppanyaki?
Teppanyaki is a type of cooking which consists of frying meat, vegetables, and seafood on an iron plate. The name ‘teppanyaki’ comes from the characters in Japanese, a ‘tetsu pan’ is an iron/metal flat plate, and ‘yaki’ means to grill or bake something. This cooking style is mainly done at a table, on an built-in flat skillet that can be turned off and on as will.
Outside of Japan, the term hibachi is well-known, but is sometimes used interchangeably with teppanyaki. Traditionally, a hibachi is a small, round, portable charcoal grill over which food is grilled. Something more similar to a yakiniku cooking surface, in fact. Teppanyaki, on the other hand, is a flat skillet. If you are dining in Japan, searching for a hibachi restaurant will take you to very different places than searching for teppanyaki will.
There are several styles of teppanyaki. One of the most popular ones is having steak prepared over the counter in front of you on an iron plate. This style originates from Misono, a steak house in Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture, that opened in 1945. Being able to see the cook's fantastic skills is one of the fun aspects of visiting a teppanyaki restaurant.
The second most popular type are teppanyaki restaurants where you cook for yourself on an iron plate in the middle of the table. Here you can control how long your meal is cooked for, and how it is topped. It’s a great place to go and eat with friends.
Steak - A Common Teppanyaki Dish
When it comes to teppanyaki, it's got to be steak! It's appealing because you can see the chef cooking in front of you, enjoy the presence filled performance, and eat the fresh hot food that was cooked on the iron plate in front of you. There are various types of restaurants such as steak houses or French style ones, but wherever you go, you can enjoy the finest ingredients, such as meat, seafood, and vegetables, all of which are carefully selected by the chefs. A popular sauce that is used in making teppanyaki dishes both at restaurants and at home is teriyaki sauce, although this varies from shop to shop and region to region in Japan.
Dining at this type of teppanyaki restaurant costs a little bit more than at regular restaurants or izakaya. We recommend it for a dinner to commemorate a special day or when you feel like you want to eat something a little extravagant in Japan.
Dishes that use flour are also one of the teppanyaki classics. There's a teppanyaki style similar to what we just showed you, where a chef cooks okonomiyaki in front of you, but the most popular is the one having the customers surround an iron plate table and cook it themselves. There are many restaurants where you can cook okonomiyaki, monjayaki, yakisoba, and various other flour-based foods, as well as meat, vegetables, and seafood - all at the same restaurant.
This style of restaurant is a lot more affordable in comparison to teppanyaki restaurants where the chef cooks for you. You will find the same prices that you would expect at an izakaya in these restaurants.
6 Classic Teppanyaki Cooking Menus
We'll introduce to you six classic teppanyaki menu items besides teppanyaki cooking where you will get to know the fun of frying up steak or seafood.
Okonomiyaki is an iron plate dish that is primarily eaten in Western Japan and features cabbage, eggs, yam, and other ingredients cut into small pieces. These ingredients are then added to a flour mixture, (which will be covered later in this article), poured onto the oiled surface of the iron plate and grilled to perfection. Its texture is somewhat similar to a savory pancake when it's done. You can enjoy this dish all throughout Japan. In many cases, you use a typical large, flat spoon-like utensil to eat okonomiyaki, and you can either eat it directly from the grill or put it on a plate to eat it.
For more information please take a look at Japanese Encyclopedia: Okonomiyaki, Kansai Style.
Monjayaki is an iron plate dish that the common people of Tokyo have enjoyed since long ago. You cut the ingredients into small pieces, add them to the flour mixture, and cook them by heating them up on the iron plate. It's similar to okonomiyaki, but it differs in that you eat it when it's sticky and semi-cooked instead of fully cooked and pancake-like. The utensil you use to eat it is similar to the spatula used to eat oknomiyaki, but the spatula used to eat monjayaki is a lot smaller. It's about the same size as a large coffee spoon and is called a hagashi.
Japanese Encyclopedia: Monjayaki has more on this Tokyo specialty.
Dondon-yaki is an iron plate dish that is primarily eaten in western Japan. You cook it on top of the iron plate by thinly pouring on flour that's been mixed with water and has soup stock in it. Dried prawns and sea kelp are used as toppings. The shapes and added flavors depend on the region. There are those shaped like disks and others that are rolled as well. These come in a variety of flavors, from soy sauce to Japanese barbecue, so even if you're eating the same type of dondon-yaki, you will encounter different flavors based on which region you are in. It might be fun to try the various types of dondon-yaki as you visit different areas of Japan.
Yakisoba is a sauce flavored noodle dish that is eaten all throughout Japan. A noodle-based dish, slices of pork or other meats, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables are combined on top of the iron plate and grilled to perfection together. A salty-sweet sauce is being added for flavor, and dried seaweed flakes, dried bonito flakes, mayo and hot Japanese mustard are common toppings. Also, there are regions that are advertising their unique yakisoba cooking methods and unique ingredients, which make yakisoba a popular regional cuisine.
5. Genghis Khan
Jingisukan, or Ghengis khan, is an iron plate dish that uses goat meat, mutton or lamb, and is a local cuisine that represents Hokkaido. The unique characteristic of this dish is that it uses a special pot with a conical center; you grill the thinly cut goat meat and vegetables by heating the pot. The juices from the meat get heated up and help to both cook and flavor the vegetables, making it a very tasty dish all around.
6. Ehime/Iron Plate Yakitori
Yakitori is commonly put on a skewer and cooked over a charcoal fire. However, only the yakitori in Ehime prefecture skips the skewers and is instead cooked over an iron plate. Being a dish that originates in Imabari city, Ehime prefecture, it is also called Imabari yakitori. Without using skewers, the chicken is cooked by laying it down on the iron plate and then pressing down on it with a large steel spatula, which makes the meat sizzle as it cooks. This yakitori is ready when the skin is crispy and the insides are juicy.
Recommended Teppanyaki Restaurants in Tokyo
Sakura-tei stands on the corner of a residential area in Harajuku. It's a restaurant where you can eat okonomyaki and monjayaki, while being surrounded by an interior filled with elegant art. There are English and Simplified Chinese menus, so you can be at ease even if it's your first time in Japan. If you'd like to learn more, see Make Your First Okonomiyaki At Arty Harajuku Spot Sakura-tei.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 3-20-1
Closed: Open year around
Ginza Ukai-tei (Steak)
Ginza Ukai-tei is an extraordinary restaurant with the highest level of omotenashi (hospitality). They have balanced the beauty of traditional Japanese architecture and Western aesthetics, and you can enjoy only the highest quality teppanyaki here.
Address: Tokyo, Chuo, Ginza 5-15-8, Jijitsushin building 1F
Hours: Lunch 12:00-14:00, Dinner 17:00-21:00 (Last Order)
Closed: Not set
Mikiya is particular about using only vegetables produced in Hiroshima, as it is a restaurant where you can enjoy real Hiroshima okonomiyaki. This restaurant is always bright and animated inside. You can enjoy watching the chef's splendid movements as he cooks from your counter seat or you can choose the table seats where you can relax. More information on Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki can be found in Takoebisu. It's a popular restaurant as its main appeal is serving original iron plate cooking that you can't get anywhere else. They use good quality alcohol in preparing their steaks as well. You can enjoy a meal for an affordable price here, so we recommend it to people who don't want to overspend on food.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu 1-22-10
Hours: Monday-Friday 18:00-23:00 (Last Order 22:00), Saturday/Sunday 17:30-22:00 (Last Order 22:00). Open for lunch. Can be entered even after 22:00. Open on Sundays.
Closed: Not set
Kisentei Tokyo Midtown Restaurant (Steak)
Kisentei is the sister shop of Imahan, a well established sukiyaki/shabu shabu restaurant. At Kisentei, you can enjoy teppanyaki that uses the highest quality Japanese black beef and seasonal ingredients. If you're lucky and get a window seat, you'll get to enjoy the superb view of Roppongi too.
Address: Tokyo, Minato, Akasaka 9-7-4 Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace 3F
Hours: Weekdays 11:00-15:00/17:00-24:00 (Last Order 22:00). Saturday 11:00-24:00 (Last Order 22:00). Sunday/Holidays 11:00-23:00 (Last Order 21:00).
Closed: Closed New Years Day
Recommended Teppanyaki Restaurants in Kyoto
Gion Ichido (Japanese cuisine)
Gion Ichido is "the" teppanyaki restaurant to pay attention to when visiting Gion. You can enjoy high quality food such as Matsutake mushrooms, caviar, Japanese beef, raw botargo, and extra-large abalone among other things, from an innovative menu. One of the popular menu items is upscale yakisoba.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Higashiyama, Gion, South side 589, Gion Matsumoto Building 1F
Yamamoto Manbo (Okonomiyaki)
Yamamoto Manbo is a well-established okonomiyaki restaurant that has accumulated over 60 years of history. Its specialty is the Manboyaki special. It's said that there's are countless repeat customers who come for this item. Although it has a reasonable price, the okonimyaki you can enjoy here is excellent.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo, Shimonomachi 56
KOKKO is a restaurant where you can enjoy both teppanyaki and hot pot. It has a unique style where the iron plate is in the center, and hotpot dishes can be cooked around it. You won't see this anywhere else. With each bite, the carefully selected chicken releases more and more flavor.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Nakagyo, Kamaza, Marutamachi, Kudaru Masuya town 163, Residence MT1F
Teppan Takumi Akatsuki (Steak/Okonomiyaki)
Teppan Takumi Akatsuki is a little known, but amazing restaurant. Starting with teppanyaki, you can enjoy a wide variety of dishes here. Akatsuki carefully selects fresh seasonal ingredients and cooks them, so that their original flavor comes out at its best. Also, one of their appealing points is that they offer pancakes, French toast, and other sweets for those with a sweet tooth.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Kita, Omiya Kitatsubakihara-cho 45, Igarashi Building 1F
Hours: Monday-Wednesday/Sunday 18:00-23:00, Friday/Saturday 18:00-24:00
Okonomiyaki Eirakuen (Okonomiyaki)
Okonomiyaki Eirakuen is a restaurant where you can enjoy eating a lot of okonomiyaki at a reasonable price. There're plenty of choices on the menu, with eleven different kinds of okonomiyaki. There are also different toppings you can select from such as cheese, rice cakes, corn, and more. You can enjoy the taste of your very own custom okonomiyaki here!
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Nakagyo, Shinkyogoku, Sanjokudaru
Hours: 11:30-20:30 (Last Order)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the store is closed the next day)
Recommended Teppanyaki Restaurants in Osaka
Wine and okonomiyaki. You can enjoy this exciting combination at Vin-jutei. Each dish with its ingredients, sauces, and cooking methods has been devised so that it goes well with wine. How about trying the unique combination of okonomiyaki and wine?
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Kita, Sonezakishinchi 1-2-24, Newtown Building 1F
Hours: 8:00-23:00 (Last Order 22:00)
Closed: Sundays, Golden Week, Silver Week, End of year/Start of year
Teppan-jinjya (Original Vegetable, Meat, and Seafood Dishes)
Teppan-jinjya is a popular restaurant in Namba where they cook carefully selected fresh ingredients on the iron plate. Their original fried skewers are cooked using virgin olive oil, giving it a crisp finish that everyone can enjoy. It's open all year round from 11:30 am until 3:00 am the next day. We recommend it for people who want to enjoy Osaka well into the night.
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Namba Sennichimae 12-34
Closed: Open all year
Teppanyaki Hakata Tenjin Horumon (Steak)
Teppanyaki Hakata Tenjin Horumon is a restaurant where even at night you can enjoy a teppanyaki set from its large menu. Any of the meats that they cook on the iron plate in front of you are of excellent quality. You can get a large serving of rice for free and can to feel full for a reasonable price.
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Kita, Ofukacho 1-1-1, Yodobashi Umeda Building 8F
Hours: 11:00-23:00(Last Order 22:00)
Closed: Follows Yodobashi's schedule
Yakiyaki Miwa (Steak)
Yakiyaki Miwa Horie store is a store that we warmly recommend to teppanyaki lovers. It's said to be a restaurant where there you cannot fail no matter what you choose from the menu. How about spending a special time in this fancy and relaxing restaurant?
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Nishi, Minami Horie 2-13-30, Suneast Building 202
Hours: Monday-Friday/Saturday 17:00-23:00, Sunday/Holidays 17:00-22:00
Closed: Not set
Ajinoya is a popular okonomiyaki restaurant in Dotonbori where people start lining up even before the restaurant opens. All the okonomiyaki here are extremely soft and fluffy. They're large, but you can eat them in no time. Also, the yakisoba with okonomiyaki sauce is excellent too.
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Namba 1-7-16
Hours: Monday 18:00-22:45, Tuesday-Friday 12:00-22:45, Saturday/Sunday/Holidays 11:30-22:45
Closed: Every 2nd Monday
How was it? Teppanyaki is a word referring to many different types of dishes and each specialty restaurant has its own variations on iron plate cooking. When staying in Japan, this is a great type of dish to enjoy either alone or with friends and family.
For those who are curious to know more about good restaurants in Japan, please take a look at these articles: 10 Selected Restaurants In Tokyo + Japanese Food Guide and 3 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At Restaurants.