Hand-eye coordination is definitely not my strong suit. There have been countless times where I’ve been presented with the challenge of catching multiple bowls of rice or eggs at a teppanyaki restaurant, only to have most of it land on me and my clothes. I have a sneaking suspicion that the chefs are actually trying to get food on you sometimes, but it’s safe to say that teppanyaki restaurants aren’t really my favourite.
That’s not to say that I don’t love food that is cooked on a teppan. I love the way that the Japanese expertly cook steak, vegetables, noodles and okonomiyaki on a hotplate, and part of the reason why I love it is because the food is cooked right in front of you, allowing you to take in and observe the chef in action.
Kujin is my kind of teppanyaki restaurant – there’s no food throwing of any description! The menu covers a broad selection of Japanese dishes, from small izakaya-style share plates, tempura, kushiyaki skewers, sashimi, and of course, dishes cooked on the teppan.
We start with some kushiyaki skewers that are cooked on a charcoal grill next to the teppan. Both the chicken thigh and the tsukune chicken meatballs are basted in a sweet teriyaki sauce.
I’m not usually one to order a salad but when there’s soft shell crab involved I can definitely be convinced. The soft shell crab is nice and crispy and there’s a generous serve of it on top of the mixed leaves and tomatoes. The dressing is a tangy and slightly spicy wasabi mayonnaise and onion dressing.
Being a teppanyaki restaurant, we had to try their okonomiyaki. There are a few different filling options to choose from, including mushrooms, chicken, pork and kimchi, and seafood, but we decide to go with the “modern yaki” which has pork, egg and noodles.
The “modern yaki” has zig zags of mayonnaise on top and dancing bonito flakes. The addition of noodles into the batter makes it a comforting, filling dish, but it’s delicious on a cold night and we have no trouble finishing it off.
The tamago-yaki is a special tonight, and is the speciality of head chef Naoki Fukushima. Usually I see this prepared in a special rectangular omelette pan, but Fukushima-san cooks his tamagoyaki directly on the teppan, as tightly rolled up layers of egg omelette with chopped spring onion.
The tamagoyaki is slightly sweet, with the egg having been mixed with a dashi soy broth. The egg layers are distinct and perfectly cooked so that it’s still fluffy, and some layers are still ever so slightly soft. The rolled omelette is sliced up and served with ponzu and radish.
We’ve saved the best for last though. The grass fed steak is again cooked on the teppan to a perfect medium rare. On the side is a huge scoop of wasabi mashed potato (which was actually shaped like half a potato – coincidental or intentional?) and some buttery king oyster mushrooms.
This steak is amazing. Still pink in the centre with a nice hard sear on the outside, it was amazingly tender and flavoursome, and really didn’t need the ponzu sauce that it came with. This was another special for the night, but if you see it on the menu at Kujin, I would definitely recommend getting it!
Kujin is also a Washoku Lovers restaurant, so if you present your card, you can get a scoop of green tea ice cream for free! If you haven’t got your Washoku Lovers card, which gives you heaps of freebies and deals at Japanese restaurants around Sydney and Melbourne, you can sign up on their website for free.
As for Kujin, it’s reminded me why I love eating at teppanyaki restaurants – not for the food throwing, but for the grilled food which is prepared simply but expertly in front of you. For now, Kujin seems to be a hidden gem on Elizabeth Bay road, so get in there and try the teppanyaki dishes before word gets out about it!
Penguin says Feed Me dined at Kujin courtesy of Washoku Lovers.
1/41B Elizabeth Bay Rd
Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
Ph: +61 2 9331 6077