Teppan Cave - A Better Teppanyaki
Nelson: Actual Japanese Wagyu beef is almost impossible to find in Canada, but I've unexpectedly found it in Vaughan. This teppanyaki restaurant is almost impossible to find (and currently only at soft open), but once you do arrive, you are in for a treat. We tried the chef's tasting menu at $35 and let's find out what that includes.
Authentic okonomiyaki! I've never seen this anywhere is Canada, yet here it is ($8 a la carte). Each region in Japan cooks this slightly different and although this one was different from the one I had at its Osakan birthplace, I like Teppan Cave's version better. It had a lot of cabbage instead of flour which I prefer. You can add bacon or seafood, but I didn't at all miss either ingredient. Somehow by cooking on top of a teppanyaki surface there was a really great smoky flavour imparted to the pancake.
|Nice touch with the moving bono flakes on top. This is intended as an appetizer and not to fill so everyone at the table had a taste. I'm thrilled I can find this Canada now!|
|The salad course of the meal is pretty simple, but is presented nicely and has the really nice touch of fresh corn on the cob. Nice way to distinguish this salad from every other Japanese salad out there.|
|The next appetizer is a scallop dish ($6 a la carte). These are big! The scallop themselves were cooked right up to the border of being overcooked, but not quite across it. Probably the most important factor when cooking scallop.|
|When finished cooking, the scallop were plated absolutely beautifully. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with the garnish definitely makes this more of a Western preparation than an Asian one, but in taste I have no complaint here. Big scallop are so delightful to eat!|
|The next appetizer is a sea bass seared and baked in onion sake sauce ($15 a la carte). I have never seen the use of this mini pots on a teppanyaki service before. And then to use sake and take a torch to it? Fun! Seems like all the alcohol content was burned away, but what was left is a nice salty, oniony soup base.|
|The presentation is really beautiful. The sea bass was cooked exactly right making the flesh soft and delicate. I was expecting the fattiness of a cod here, but it was not as strong or overpowering as black cod. An innovative way of cooking this dish and something I would totally not expect from a Teppanyaki restaurant.|
|The star of the meal is the meat. I upgraded to get Australian M8 wagyu beef striploin (left, an extra $30 for 40 grams), while someone else ordered actual Japanese A4 wagyu beef rib eye (an extra $50 for 40 grams). The prices seem right and there are proper ratings on the meat, which means this is the real thing. Never thought I would see real Japanese wagyu in Toronto! The Canadian AAA Tenderloin (back, included in tasting menu) and rib eye beef rolls with garlic and scallion rounds out this plate|
|This is a half portion of the glorious Australian wagyu. A really nice touch here is that the meat is cooked portion by portion so that when you put meat to mouth, the meat is hot. A very thoughtful touch and one that really helps someone like Kitty who is a naturally slow eater. This wasn't quite as good as the Kobe beef I had in Japan, but it was still incredible. The meat is fatty in a nice way with a consistent tender texture. Hard to describe something that tastes so good because words can't do it justice.|
|The steak comes with a salt dip (pictured above) along with garlic chips and vegetables. Like the meat, the vegetables come out slowly so that whatever you eat is hot. Great service! The vegetables include eggplant (a tad undercooked), squash, sweet peppers (also a tad undercooked), zucchini and mushroom.|
|A surprise to me, at the end, the fatty pieces of the meat were served up. I think this is usually included in the fried rice, but I like it even better served separately. I had no problems eating these fatty pieces as they were absolutely delicious.|
|As is customary in Japan, the miso soup is served last. There were some pickled vegetables as well to cleanse your palate. The mini onions in the back were very strongly flavoured while the yellow radish(?) was lighter. Even Kitty who doesn't like pickled foods ate her serving.|
|The last course to fill you up is the fried rice. All those brown specs you see are bits of garlic! And so much of it! Basil is also added and made this fried rice bursting with a unique flavour. I don't think I've ever had fried rice like this before, but it's a delicious take on this staple dish.|
The chef was unprepared to serve a dessert so we had a slice of melon along with an ice cream mochi. The melon was at peak ripeness, while the ice cream mochi was simple and good too.
This is the next evolution in Teppanyaki dining. In North America, the typical Teppanyaki meal hasn't changed in decades and it's getting tired and outdated. Here there is none of that butter infused in everything, no repetitive tricks we've all seen before or poorly cooked food. Instead there is a focus on the food, the freshness of the ingredients and the technique of cooking. I wish Teppan Cave luck and I highly recommend it to those willing to experience a newer, better way to enjoy Teppanyaki.
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