Teppanyaki is credited with originating in Japan during the mid-1940s. Cooking Western-influenced food on a teppan proved to be more for show than for the meal itself, ushering in crowds of tourists instead of the Japanese natives. Taking this concept to North America twenty years later, the Benihana restaurant chain found a formula for success which has been duplicated in every major market—often under the hibachi label.
In Worcester, there are not many restaurants that mix performance with food, but in the heart of Kelley Square sits Takara Sushi Restaurant. The small restaurant, which opened in 2006, was founded by Sony Cao who was a ten-time recipient of the Benihana Chef Award during his time at the popular chain since 1984. And, at Takara, you can see the flair that this cooking style presents.
When people order teppanyaki, it’s most common that they receive a plate of fried rice, vegetables (squash, zucchini, onions and mushrooms) and either chicken or steak. Reflecting on my past experience of going to teppanyaki restaurants (I can count three occasions since childhood) I don’t think that I’ve strayed from that menu. On this occasion, I decided that I wanted to try something new; I opted for the lobster tail.
Let’s be honest: it’s hard to mess up grilled vegetables, so it goes without saying that they were filling and good. The fried rice, made at the table, was also as good as you can hope for from any asian-themed restaurant. The lobster, however, was the only variable that I introduced that could make or break a meal. For the price, I ran the risk of it being too small; it ran the risk of not being good; it ran the risk of being “imitation” lobster meat; it ran the risk of not being satisfying. Fortunately, I was pleased on all accounts. To my surprise, there were two lobster tails that boasted a healthy portion of meat that was grilled to perfection.
While some of my dining companions had mediocre meals (one even had a bad meal) I was very pleased with my meal. It was a flavorful, generous portion that exceeded my previous experiences of teppanyaki. I always say to take risks when dining out; sometimes you can lose, but it is delicious when you win.