261/265 Blackburn Road
Doncaster East VIC 3109
+61 3 9841 9889
In the early 90s, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant opened just around the corner from our place. The restaurant was Kobe Teppanyaki and it always seemed to be packed in the evenings every time we drove past. For some reason, though, it never crossed our minds that we should try the restaurant. This was despite the fact that it was always busy and a lot of our family friends gave it glowing recommendations. Three decades later (!), it was time to finally give Kobe Teppanyaki a go.
I can’t remember what the occasion was but my entire family including my brother (normally AWOL due to work commitments) was present so it must have been a special occasion of some sort. Anyway, it was a Sunday afternoon so it was reasonably quiet when we arrived. It did pick up just as we were leaving, but I think it’s safe to assume that Kobe Teppanyaki gets the bulk of its customers in the evening.
Wine is BYO at Kobe Teppanyaki, something I kind of wished I knew before arriving. Nevertheless, it’s always nice to enjoy green tea with a Japanese meal – at least in my opinion anyway. We were also given a sesame bean sprout salad as an amuse bouche.
Our Kobe sushi combo served as the perfect starter for this family of five. The menu says that it’s recommended for 3-4 people but I honestly thought this was a good size for the five of us. The usual suspects were there – kingfish, salmon and tuna – as well as the ubiquitous California roll. Some might be yearning for something more creative but I thought this was a solid effort and the fish was fresh.
Zucchini and pumpkin are my two least favourite vegetables (unless the pumpkin is in soup form – that’s a different story) so I silently groaned when I saw them featured in the mixed tempura platter. But you know what? The tempura zucchini and pumpkin were actually delicious – in fact, everything on that platter was. The light, airy and crispy batter was so addictive that it made me reach for a second zucchini.
The tatsuta age (fried chicken) was also tasty. When it comes to Japanese fried chicken, I prefer karaage but curiously they didn’t have it on the menu. What’s the difference? Well, karaage batter is made with wheat flour while tatsuta age uses potato starch. Still, the tatsuta age made everyone else on the table happy so there were no complaints there.
I’m a sucker for a good agedashi tofu and Kobe Teppanyaki’s version was one of the best ones I’ve had. At the more-than-$10 mark, it’s not cheap but it’s a small price I’d happily pay again for that thin yet handsomely flavoured dashi broth and the crispy batter coating the tofu squares.
We ordered a serving of gyoza, only to be surprised when they came out with yellow siumai-like skins. We thought that maybe they wrote down ‘siumai’ on their order pads – after all, siumai was also on the menu, at the same price. The siumai, however, were described as steamed and obviously these had been pan-fried. The fillings were also 100% gyoza-like what with all the juicy cabbage so perhaps that’s just how they do it here. Yellow skins aside, they were tasty though I thought the price point was a bit steep for six dumplings.
I thought the kaisen soba noodles were delicious – but then again, I generally love most things that involve seafood and noodles so when you put them both together, well, it’s hard to go wrong. Lightly flavoured with soy, the noodles were soft fried and served with a generous handful of seafood including prawns, scallop and squid.
I’m not one to order teriyaki beef at Japanese restaurants (it’s the equivalent of ordering sweet and sour pork, in my opinion) but my brother is a fussy eater when it comes to Asian cuisine. Pork is generally out, whole fish usually gets a no and you can forget about offering him seafood; beef is usually a safe bet. Surprisingly, the teriyaki beef got resounding ‘yum, this is actually good!’ from everyone on the table, including myself. Sliced juicy eye fillet pieces were marinated in a delicious teriyaki sauce before being lightly grilled and served with some bean sprouts. A great dish to round off this leisurely lunch.
While I wouldn’t recommend Kobe Teppanyaki for a cheap lunch, I’d definitely come back again for dinner to try their famed teppanyaki dinners. If you live far from Doncaster, I wouldn’t strongly urge you to make a special trip. If you happen to live in the area, however, this is a great spot to keep as your local if you want something more substantial than your cheap and cheerful takeaway options. Don’t forget to order the agedashi tofu!