Sometimes life is not all glamour: champagne, oysters and foie gras. If you need a friendly night out with a restricted budget and possibly family members who find the good things in life – like Ponsonby Road – too pretentious, I have just the place for you!
The first time I went to teppan-yaki was in Sydney with a then partner, who LOVED the fact that the master ninja chef fired pieces of egg into your face hole and enjoyed the glorious fun of being able to catch said tidbits in one’s mouth, before swallowing the once-airborne food.
That first night, being a virgin to the practice (and I must say many terrible shots from the ninja chef) resulted in much egg around my neck; I much prefer pearls in that area. My partner, however, got a ‘hole in one’. As I brushed off the egg I thought, “This is quite cool…if slightly embarrassing. Food should be this fun!”
Daikoku in Takapuna has been a semi-favourite of my extended family because they do a mean lunchtime special meal for $13.80 and also because it’s a fun place which kids of all ages love.
The menu for teppan-yaki ranges for dinner from $31, which includes your whole dinner: miso soup, prawn appetiser, salad with Daikoku dressing, teppan vegetables, steamed rice and whatever of the meats you choose. This is where the prices change – the simple chicken meal is the $31 top value choice, while for $80 you can have the Daikoku Emperor with entrée set (above) plus salmon sashimi, crayfish, scallops and fillet mignon. Okay, so there can be a bit of glamour here, if you’re prepared to pay for it. Of course no one I know has ever gone for the $80 menu – why would you? It all seemed too far out of reach, until I went with an insatiable (and slightly drunk) friend the other night.
Favourites of this Amazonian female include surf’n'turf (lobster AND steak) and foie gras-smothered pigeon (that’s duck sitting atop pigeon). When I mentioned the $80 meal as a joke, she said, “That’s me! I’ll have it and you can have some of mine!” I went for the slightly more demure prawns with yum yum sauce.
The yum yum sauce noted on the menu is actually what drew me to this meal. Known and loved throughout the nation, this sweet, chunky mayo-like sauce is the stuff that dreams are made of and, I’m sure, a few decent heart attacks.
The ‘friendly’ part of the teppan-yaki experience is the same reason it’s great for large groups; the tables are shared unless you can fill one up with the family. There are eight seats in all taking up three corners, while in the last corner stands the ninja chef cooking over his hot plate in the centre. You have to wait for a table to be filled before you will be allowed to order.
From there on, it’s chatting to randoms around you, flaming foods, flying foods and a quick rotation of dishes that requires intense concentration on getting a bottle of vino down – with a side of hot sake – until the free ice-cream balls in a bowl come out. Our group did astonishingly well with the flying foods, a hole in one for the entire table, except for the last customer, a blonde sitting on the end. What a let down.
The food is fresh, cooked where you can see it and has salt and pepper sprinkled liberally as well as a few individual dipping sauces. It’s not gourmet but it is extremely filling and fun. Despite the sticky floor, this is a great place to take nephews and nieces, the grandparents, embarrassing cousins and anyone with a flair for creative use of the face hole.
| Master Bite
Address: Level 1, Bruce Mason Centre, 156 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland.
Ph: 09 488 0678
Open: 7 days, lunch 12 – 2pm, dinner 6 -10pm
Bottom line: A great place for a large group, family members and friends alike. Easy menus and great fun.