With Japanese cuisine, most people hear of sushi first. It’s shocking and stands out. I remember as a kid thinking, “raw fish, yuck” (who’d of thought I’d grow up and eat raw horse heart?). But the first “Japanese” meal most people will actually eat will be teppanyaki. Every tiny town in America has one of these restaurants… complete with an almost Japanese looking guy, Karate Kid bandanna tied around his head, and bottles of soy sauce hung low off the belt like a wild west cowboy. Teppanyaki is approachable Japanese food for the masses. It’s just steak, cooked in front of you… with a show. And that show is the reason most Americans go out to dine at “Japanese Steakhouses”.
However in Japan teppanyaki is much different. They’re not enthusiastically flipping shrimp into the diners mouths or spewing cheesy one-liners. At restaurants like Sazanka in Tokyo, the chef is still on show… but it’s more about his skilled precision and the quality of the ingredients.
We decided to head over to Sazanka for our first teppanyaki meal due in large part to a list of Michelin star lunch specials in Tokyo on Sunny Pages. If you’re ever visiting Tokyo in particular and have time in the day free I’d highly recommend hitting up as many of these restaurants as you can during lunch time as you can eat at some truly wonderful restaurants on the cheap.
We took a train into Roppongi and left a bit early as we didn’t know exactly how far away the hotel would be. It was a little bit out of the way, but through charades, gestures, and grunts we managed to get some building guards to point us in the right direction.
I should just come out and say that Hotel Okura is a bit dated in appearance and the long walk to Sazanka doesn’t raise one’s hopes too much about the cuisine. This is not a kitschy, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It’s a dated hotel, with dated interior… a time capsule to the late 70′s or early 80′s.
The walls are plain, clean and free from tacky wall scrolls of inky drawn koi fish. In fact the only “art” on display here is a glass case showing off the quality of the cuts of beef being served
But the food is what people come for. And it’s good. Lunch sets are around 4725 Yen (or around 50 USD)…. not cheap, but over half off the dinner rates. The set includes an amuse from the chef
A fresh Japanese salad.
Wonderfully fresh and not at all spongy sea Scallops. These are the kinds of scallops everyone thinks they serve at fancy restaurants in the west.
And steak. Glorious steak. No matter the cut, you’ll get a tender, juicy, perfectly cooked slab of meat skillfully prepared table-side. Served lovingly with a side of fried garlic, some grilled veggies, and a bonus treat (which sadly I have on video but not on stills due to us both devouring it before pausing for photos) of cut off the fat from the steak, minced into super small cuts and grilled till just a bit crispy. Something everyone should get to eat once in their lifetime.
After the main course you’re moved over to a lounge area where you enjoy coffee and a dessert treat.
The service and experience here are top notch and the cooks are all excellent – easily among the best teppanyaki we have ever tried. Sazanka is a great afternoon treat I’d recommend to anyone more familiar with the flashy western style of teppanyaki.
Hotel Okura Tokyo 11F.
2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo