Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Yamato Japanese Restaurant

Yamato Japanese Restaurant
18 Bellair St.
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2C7

We didn't originally plan to go to this restaurant. The food is nice, but we stayed at Sheraton on Queen St. (The restaurant is in Yorkville). What can I say? We just don't visit Toronto frequently enough that some of my favorite eateries gone in between our visits.

Yamato is divided into two sections, one is for sushi, the other is for teppanyaki. Teppanyaki, as its name suggests (in Japanese), is cooking/grilling on a big flat metal surface. What makes having teppanyaki a fun experience is you get to see the chef's performance while cooking.

I heard that it takes years of training (probably not as long as being trained as a sushi chef) to master teppanyaki techniques. I am not sure if they have the same strict standard in North America but it is quite fun seeing the chef preparing food for us.

There are several stations in the teppanyaki section. The chef works in the center and customers sit around him. There is metal surface (i.e. the grill), between the seat and the chef, on every side of the station, so the chef can prepare food right in front of the customers no matter where they sit. There were three customers (me, J and one guy) at this station. The chef showed up with a little cart which carried all the food ingredients. He asked us how well we wanted our tenderloin and rib eye done (medium rare) then he started his "ceremony".

Did I mention that the whole prep process was quite a show? The onions, sliced into rings, were piled like a dome. With some oil drizzled on top and a match...the flame went at least 2 feet high. Shrimp grouped on the other side of the grill top, a bit of oil, seasoning and a match...another flame! Although he didn't put every ingredient on fire, the whole process was as smooth as water flow. Prior to serving, he drummed the sale and pepper shakers (all the tossing and sounds). Then he served all orders at the same time.

There is a HUGE difference between flambeed and burned food. Clearly the shrimp I had was the former one; it was cooked just right, not soggy nor rubbery. The onions were nicely caramelized. The tenderloin was extremely juice and tender (J also liked his rib eye very much). The veggies were typical teriyaki style. Oh, he added herbal butter in bean sprout. The first time I went to that restaurant, I was slightly concerned about that big bowlful of "wasabi" on the chef's cart. It turned out to be herbal butter, prepared by chopping herbs then mixing all ingredients in a blender. We were offered two sauces for dipping, mustard and ginger. The mustard sauce got the mustard kick and some tangy taste, very interesting flavor.

Overall it was a great dining experience. However, J got stomachache afterwards. My stomach didn't like it much either last time we visited. I really hope it is just some freaking coincidence since the food is good.

No comments: