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6 Best Japanese Restaurants You Must Visit In Delhi For The Love of Teppanyaki

Plus what makes Japanese Teppanyaki a culinary and visual delight.

Tejashee Kashyap

What would you expect from a regular dining experience—food typically prepared in the restaurant's kitchen and brought to your table, right? But what if table theatrics were in the mix to stir your appetite? When it comes to dining performances like this, Japan’s popular Teppanyaki is unmatched. This traditional cooking style dates back to almost 200 years ago—and till date draws devoted crowds who enjoy watching the artistry of the teppanyaki chefs. 

What makes Teppanyaki so special?

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© Kofuku, Delhi

The clue is in the name itself. “Well, it uses a ‘teppan’, a flat iron plate or griddle and ‘yaki’ which means grilling food in Japanese,” tells chef Gurmehar Sethi, co-founder of restaurant Klap, Delhi. If you are a patron of Japanese cuisine, the local style of cooking involves a lot of healthy, seasonal ingredients—not just meat, you will also see a medley of vegetables and tofu being stir-fried in an open-air iron grill station—as trained chefs whip up hearty bowls and saucy appetisers served with sesame or ginger soy dips.

Food grilled at your table has an undeniable appeal. Chef Vaibhav Bhargava of Cho, a Vietnamese kitchen and bar in Delhi says: “This flair became popular because earlier there was no such place where the cuisine and cooking were showcased in a live format with such skilled manoeuvres preparing the food. Slowly, it became very popular amongst family and kids as chefs used to do culinary tricks that left the audience in awe. The craftsmanship and skill make it special.” 

My first experience watching a Teppanyaki chef perform culinary tricks was in Kylin Experience in Vasant Kunj, Delhi. Chef Dickbir pretty much cooked a whole multi-course meal—an assortment of vegetables, noodles, and rice with meat, seafood, and side dishes—all on the flat hot iron plate. He put on a theatrical movement with large-pan sizzles, flipping metal spatulas about, clanging them upon the grill, slicing and dicing with very sharp knives at impressive speeds. “Cooking on the iron grill has significant health benefits as it helps retain more nutrients,” Saurabh Khanijo, director at Kylin tells me later. “Not only is it delicious and flavourful, along with being a spectacle to witness, it is also widely considered to be one of the healthiest ways of cooking. As is evident with Japan's high population of centenarians, Teppanyaki is one of the reasons for their high life expectancy,” he adds.  

Preparing an authentic Teppanyaki

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© Shangri-La, New Delhi

This style of cooking has come a long way—you can find their frequent references across many American rom-coms too. However, America calls this style Hibachi. “Both Teppanyaki and Hibachi cooking involves grilling food over an open flame, making it understandable why many people may be confused about these two styles of food preparation,” chef Vaibhav points out. So how is it different? “Hibachi barbecue grill has a charcoal or gas flame and is made with an open grate design where chefs may perform while they cook such as by creating flames that shoot from cones that are built out of onion rings. Teppanyaki grills are long and flat, and use a propane flame as a heat source and have guests seated around. The chefs grill the food that is ordered in front of the guests, wowing them with their culinary talents and excellent knife skills,” he answers. 

As I delve more into this unique cooking style, I find out that dishes—especially the ones with meat—are more tender and juicy than the regular grilled preparation, and the flat iron surface makes all the difference. “There’s a difference between grilling on a teppan and a regular grill. Because the flat surface of a teppan holds all juice and flavours on the cooking top so the food is coated with the right flavour profile and cooked evenly,” Chef Gurmehar shares. Since the food is grilled, and at times even steamed, on the hot plate—it is considered to be healthier. “The cooking needs less oil which makes it a healthier and guilt-free meal,” Chef Vaibhav points out. “Cooking on a flat iron surface ensures even cooking of the food, and the heat can be maintained as per the cooking requirements.” 

Where to experience Teppanyaki in Delhi

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© Shangri-La, New Delhi

Delhi has plenty of Japanese restaurants, but the ones specialising in authentic Teppanyaki preparation are a handful. Chef Vaibhav, who has worked five years as a Teppanyaki chef, believes that a lack of awareness is the reason behind this. “To date, there isn’t much awareness of the rich traditions and specialised techniques of Japanese cuisine. Different style cooking and techniques are used by chefs around the world for Teppanyaki but still, a lot is left to be discovered.” 

You might not find an entire Teppanyaki menu, but just a couple of those dishes that can surpass your expectations. So, if you’re in Delhi and still haven’t tried Teppanyaki yet, these options can make feasting a delight: 

1. TK’s Oriental Grill, Hyatt Regency, Bhikaji Cama Place

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When it comes to Teppanyaki in Delhi, TK’s Oriental Grill is a good place to start. The place had completed 25 years, which means you need not worry about the authentic preparation while the chefs present you an entertaining night of cooking theatrics around Teppanyaki tables. It offers a full Teppanyaki menu with must-haves including tenderloin steak, grilled mushroom, and sliced lamb in oyster sauce. 

2. Kylin Experience, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj

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Located at one corner of the food court at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, Kylin Experience greets you with an unassuming facade. Once you enter the Teppanyaki restaurant, you will see a full-fledged live station with bar stools for diners to relish visuals of their delicacies. On offer from the Teppanyaki menu are tenderloin teriyaki, ponzu prawn, and teriyaki chicken served with udon noodles and sticky rice in lip-smacking sauces. Once you’ve made your choice, know that you are set to enjoy a grand show of roof-high flames and jaw-dropping stunts, courtesy of the magician - chef Dickbir.

3. MKT, The Chanakya

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The opulent MKT at The Chanakya is another option to savour live table theatrics with Teppanyaki preparation. MKT has always been a firm favourite amongst family diner options. A varied array of Teppanyaki dishes like tofu in miso-garlic sauce, rolled chicken breast in mustard sauce, and sliced lamb boasts of savoury nuances that keep diners coming back for more.

4. Tamra, Shangri-La

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Another exceptional food theatre in the city is Tamra which has a unique ‘world on your platter’ concept. Led by the hotel’s executive chef, Gagandeep Singh Sawhney, its open Teppanyaki station is a vibrant, lively, and fun space. Once you’ve had your fill of Teppanyaki, there’s a repertoire of inspired offerings from across the globe—both authentic South East Asian and European cuisine.

5. Guppy By Ai, Lodhi Colony

An elegant spot offering Teppanyaki, Guppy is the city’s favourite Japanese restaurant. While the restaurant is a must-visit for all those waiting to satiate their Japanese cravings, it doesn’t offer a diverse Teppanyaki menu or a live counter. Its offerings are limited to Teppanyaki grilled exotic vegetables that rise above the rest—giving you the start to this diverse cuisine.

6. Kofuku, Ansal Plaza Mall

Like Guppy, Kofuku doesn’t have an extensive Teppanyaki menu but there are options worth trying—like the tofu Teppanyaki steak, yakitori, and chicken teriyaki with the perfect blend of sauces and proteins for you to enjoy. Moreover, the place offers traditional seating options—you can get one of the private booths that allow you to sit comfortably on the floor. 

Photo: Shutterstock; Featured restaurants
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