Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cooking that uses an iron griddle to cook food. It is seen frequently in popular culture as chefs stand over a large hot pan and cook the food in front of dinners who sit around the hot pan in a U shape. In some establishments the chefs move the food around the hot pan in such a quick and accurate manner that it can only be described as an art form.
Common dishes In Teppanyaki restaurants include Yakitori (a grilled chicken dish), Tempura (a seafood or vegetable which is battered) and various curries cooked in woks.
Sen Nin is a Teppanyaki chain in London that has a few restaurants around mainly in Islington and Camden. As you Sen Nin you are greeted by attentive and helpful staff that sit you down at the bar which overlooks the kitchen, giving you the perfect view into a world of cooking chaos, where chefs move with frantic speed, yet maintain an air of grace and composure despite the incredible speed at which they fly around the kitchen. There are other tables, but the bar table is best due to the dicing, chopping, stiring and flash frying all happening in the blink of an eye just centimetres away from your plate and the smells and aromas! They surround you tempting your ever decision like a devil sitting on your shoulder whispering and influencing your ever thought as you browse the menu wondering what taste sensation awaits you!
Being a huge sushi fan I decided to start off with the Aburi Sushi Delux, which is a selection of 8 pieces of Nigri sushi. Nigri sushi is small and simple to look at yet very filling and surprisingly flavoursome, it consists of a bed of sushi rice made into a box shape (usually by hand) with a piece of raw or lightly griddled fish on top along with a topping. You can then add wasabi and ginger as you wish to heighten the flavours and sensations. The fish on top is usually salmon or tuna, but nearly any seafood can be used such as octopus or eel which is bound to the rice stack with a thin strip of nori (type of sea vegetable).
My date decided on the volcano roll (pictured to the right) which was sushi rice rolled up with salmon spring onion and Nori. If he was still around today I am confident that even the great Leonardo Da Vinci would give his nod of approval, due to the detail and care that goes in to each and every piece. One tip for anyone who has yet to enjoy the pleasures of sushi is that you should always eat the sushi piece in one as it shows great disrespect to the sushi chef if you nibble at it or eat it in more than one bite. This is because the flavours will be different if you only eat one part at a time rather than the piece as a whole. It may seem like a
strange and slightly unnatural practice the first few times you are trying to pick up your sushi and ‘place’ it in your mouth, but I assure you if you don’t give up an prevail the embarrassment of frequently dropping your sushi, the pleasure you shall receive will convince you otherwise.
To finish the meal we went for the Chicken Teriyaki Soba Noodles, a small yet filling dish that has succulent grilled chicken a selection of crunchy vegetables on a bed of soba noodles all cooked in teriyaki sauce giving it a salty flavour. This is another tricky dish to eat with just chop sticks due to soba noodles being very fine delicate and easy to chop and therefore drop if you use too much pressure with your chop sticks. Luckily for those of you who aren’t chop stick masters Sen Nin provide a fork and spoon to assist you with the tricky task. All in all the portions were small compared to other eating experiences you may of had, but the difference is that real sushi and teppanyaki are very filling due to the heavy rice they use to create the sushi pieces, this combined with the sauces create a very filling combo. Thus I would advise that it is best for that you order a few items at a time and then order more courses if you wish later, you might just surprise yourself in how little you need to consume to feel full.
The combination of showmanship and new and exciting foods makes eating out a more engaging and thrilling experience, once you have eaten teppanyaki and watched in awe as the skilful chefs prepare your culinary delights, you will find other dining experiences dull and tasteless in comparison. Sen Nin is certain a restaurant that has to be experienced to be believed.
***Top Tip – you can get 50% off all food at Sen Nin if you book your table in advance with the Table Pouncer app. ***