Tucked down an alley adjacent to the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei (台北遠東國際大飯店), Teppan Izakaya is an unassuming-looking Japanese tapas bar that supplies a decent selection of grilled and fried snacks complemented by carafes of sake and shochu, an increasingly common feature of the capital’s culinary map. One thing the bar takes pride in and that sets it apart from its kind is the serving of okonomiyaki, or Japanese pizza, prepared in the Hiroshima style.
The interior exudes a cozy feel with wooden furnishings, soft lighting and easy-listening J-pop. Though the displays of koinobori, or carp windsocks, and Japanese lanterns may add a kitschy, yet pleasing ambience, the authenticity of Teppan’s food is suggested by the proprietor’s Hiroshima origins and his Japanese patrons. Okonomiyaki is a must on each and every table and comes in five flavors that include kimchi (泡菜燒, NT$220), cheese (起司燒, NT$240) and homemade sticky rice cake (麻糬燒, NT$320).
We ordered the original-flavored Hiroshima okonomiyaki (廣島燒, NT$180), which is topped with a fried egg, a generous serving of thick okonomiyaki sauce and dried skipjack tuna flakes. The batter cake consists of layers of cabbage, pork and fried noodles (either yakisoba or udon) and comes with a bottle of Japanese mayonnaise of which the waiting staff encouraged us to consume as much as we desired. The dish doesn’t fit in the light and healthy image of Japanese cuisine.
Unlike barbecue menus you might find at the more trendy and upscale Japanese tapas bars favored by Taipei hipsters, the grilled meat available at Teppan Izakaya is neither pretentiously presented nor complicated by high-priced ingredients. Rather, it is the juicy burger with French fries (皇家漢堡肉, NT$160), simply seasoned grilled mackerel (鹽燒鯖魚, NT$200) and beef tongue (蔥鹽牛舌, NT$180) that slake the appetite.
Deep-fried dishes like crunchy chicken cartilage (酥辣雞軟骨, NT$120) and crisp burdock root slices (卡哩卡哩炸牛蒡, NT$120), are, unfortunately, a bit greasy, but provide a suitably simple complement to the bar’s sake collection, which is priced between NT$280 and NT$700 for a carafe, and selection of shochu (NT$140 to NT$250 a glass), a beverage distilled from rice, barley, taro and perilla that is stronger than sake but weaker than whiskey.
The service can be inattentive when there is a big crowd, but for the most part the staff is experienced, polite and happy to make food and drink recommendations.
One thing to avoid, however, is the Japanese-style back room as the space under the tables is fairly limited for diners to cross or stretch their legs.
ADDRESS: 13, Ln 265, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路二段265巷13號)
TELEPHONE: (02) 2738-9171
OPEN: Mondays through Fridays from 6pm to 12am; Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 12am
AVERAGE MEAL: NT$500
DETAILS: Chinese and Japanese menu
ON THE NET: www.hiroshima.com.tw
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