Blazing flambe, flying knives, fiery griddles and flying pieces of meat and veggies – talk about an exciting show!
It was my introduction to Teppanyaki, a Japanese cuisine, at the Novotel Resort, Bheemunipatnam. Derived from the word ‘teppan’ which means iron plate and ‘yaki’ that translates to grilled, broiled or pan-fried, this is an ancient Japanese style of cooking done using an iron plate or griddle.
I walk past the infinity pool into the Teppanyaki restaurant that overlooks the Bay of Bengal and am welcomed by the hotel’s chef P Upendra. I take my seat on one of the chairs that are neatly arranged around a flat iron griddle.
Chef Upendra asks me to tick mark my preferences on the menu. They will now be prepared right before my eyes and served hot straight onto my plate.
The menu is impressive and I eventually decide on kaisen salad, uddon noodle and lemon coriander broth to begin with. Kaisen is a sashimi salad prepared with fish and dressed with Japanese sesame. It has subtle flavours that prepare my palate for the rest of the meal. The uddon noodle and lemon coriander broth are refreshing, but if you like your soup with a strong flavour, go for the akka miso — a soya bean fermented soup with the meat of your choice.
As I try out okonomiyaki or the Japanese Pizza, Upendra explains, “This is our signature dish and made with three varieties of sauce, peppered with togarashi powder (a typical Japanese spice mixture). It suits the Indian palate because of its combination of tangy, spicy and sweet flavours.”
Teppanyaki chefs are not just expert cooks they are consummate performers. Chef Upendra is a flamboyant sight as he tosses and turns the veggies and meat and flames up the iron griddle before dishing out gohan (Japanese rice) and tori shio-yaki (chicken with sesame teriyaki sauce). It is a treat to watch him as he describes for me every process and makes me a participant in the culinary experience. This meal has to be a leisurely one and of course there is a dessert at the end of it. Coming out of a fiery flambe is the pan fried ice-cream that the chef sets down in front of me — a fitting finale to an unforgettable feast.
The hotel also organises local sight-seeing tours with guides where you can soak in the historic flavour of Bheemunipatnam, the second oldest municipality of India. You can also hire a bicycle from the hotel and take a leisurely ride across the lanes of the town. Or simply sit back and enjoy a film at the hotel’s mini theatre.