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Oct 1, 2015

The Heat Is On

Authentic teppanyaki cooking is more than fancy theatrics; three chefs show us what it takes to be the true masters of the teppan.

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There is no denying that Singaporeans love Japanese cuisine, and this includes teppanyaki. For the uninitiated, the word “teppanyaki” is the combination of two words – teppan (iron plate) and yaki (grilled, broiled, or pan-fried). When you sit before a teppanyaki counter, chances are, you would be treated to the chef’s fanciful pairing of cooking and entertainment. From mad slicing skills and flying cutleries to pyrotechnic displays, teppanyaki chefs seem to have an arsenal of tricks akin to that of flair bartending. But did you know this dramatic style of teppanyaki cooking was introduced only in 1945, and that it was popularised by foreigners, not the Japanese?

The real McCoy really has none of the theatrics. Most traditional teppanyaki chefs would refuse to pander to such trends and, instead, focus on grilling each dish to sizzling perfection. The origins of authentic teppanyaki cooking are still unknown, though some believe it harks back to the mid-19th century when families would gather in their homes and cook on small grills.

At these three teppanyaki counters, what you can expect to see are chefs who are wholly dedicated to getting the art of authentic teppanyaki cooking down pat – no juggling required.

(Text Tan LILI Photography Raymond Toh/Vineyard Production)

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