Teppan Kenta tones down the theatrics of many teppanyakis, focusing instead on expert griddle-fried bar food—like this okonomiyaki. Chef and owner Kenta Taniguchi tells us what goes into his signature layered pancake.
1. Base camp
The dish starts with a base of thin dough made of flour, water, grated mountain yam, and broth. It’s formed into a crepe on the grill and covered with bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, tempura bits, chopped green onions, and a dusting of garlic powder. Raw pork belly is draped on top, more batter is poured over the whole thing, and it’s left to cook until the greens start to sweat. “This is the crunchy component of the dish, so I have to get all the water out of the cabbage,” says Taniguchi.
2. Fat stacks
A large, five-foot-long iron griddle allows chefs to prepare the dish in stages on the same surface. While the base is cooking, Taniguchi fries noodles in a thick okonomiyaki sauce—a sweet, salty, and tart concoction made from soy sauce and seafood broth. When they’re done, the pancake-and-cabbage base is stacked on top.
3. Cracking good fun
Eggs are essential to teppanyaki cooking and often part of the show at flamboyant restaurants (where chefs will juggle them while cooking). Here, however, they’re just for eating: Taniguchi cracks one on the flattop, scrambles it slightly, and moulds it into a thin round shape. The base and the noodles then slide over the egg. “This is the first dish I was trained to make when I started working at a teppanyaki,” says the chef, who also spent three years at Guu on Church Street before opening his own restaurant in September.
4. Crustacean cap
The pancake, noodle, and egg stack is delicately flipped over, then crowned with grilled octopus and shrimp. In Japan, there are two traditional types of okonomiyaki: Osaka-style, in which all the ingredients are bound by batter and cooked together, and Hiroshima-style, the layered kind that Teppan Kenta makes.
5. Feelin’ saucy
The final dish is transferred to a shallow iron pan, cut into pie-shaped slices, then finished with more okonomiyaki sauce, thin ribbons of sweet mayo, and chopped green seaweed. Bonito flakes serve as the cherry on top. Want to see how it all comes together? Snag a seat at the bar that overlooks the iron griddle where the chefs do their work.
$15. 24 Wellesley St. W., 647-345-0905.