Monday, 28 March 2011


179 Russell St
Melbourne, 3000

Japanese Pizza. Sounds like a fusion disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it? Add that to a grungy interior and a menu that was translated into Chinese, not Japanese, I almost regretted stepping foot into this narrow Japanese eatery. The only thing that kept me from bolting was Matt Preston’s glowing review of the restaurant. Despite being grungy and disconcertingly non-Japanese (the staff were speaking in Cantonese to each other), the decor wasn’t actually half bad. A couple of pretty red lanterns hung just inside the entrance, looking very inviting from the outside, and large Japanese paintings adorned the interior. 

Chicken Okonomiyaki ($9.00)

With Teppansan’s specialty being their Japanese pizza – the okonomiyaki, there was no way I could order anything else. Whilst I chose the chicken okonomiyaki ($9.00), there was also the option of beef, pork, vegetarian, or for a dollar more, seafood. It came out generously drizzled with BBQ sauce and Japanese mayo (best condiment EVER, except maybe aioli, but only on chips), and some katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) on top. Cutting into it revealed piles of tender chicken pieces canoodling with shreds of cabbage and onion, and the pizza was soft and melty, having the same consistency and flavour as takoyaki. Despite being a ‘pizza’, it tasted distinctly Japanese, and whilst traditional okonomiyaki isn’t served folded over (or so I’ve heard), I was perfectly happy to overlook that.

Beef in Wafu Sauce ($10.00)
K (HI K****!!!!!) chose the Beef in Wafu Sauce ($10.00). Chunks of beef sat on top of a bed of bean sprouts, scattered with a few sesame seeds and some scallions, and with a serve of rice on the side. The beef, whilst tender, was nothing special, and (in my opinion at least) tasted too much like the sprouts they were sitting on. We also spent the entire meal trying to work out what ‘wafu sauce’ was exactly, and googling revealed that wafu meant ‘Japanese styled’, which left us none the wiser.

The menu here is a bit of a hit and miss, with one of the highlights being the okonomiyaki. They also do a fantastic lunch special, one for $6 and one for $10, which from what I’ve heard, is generous in both portion and flavour. But even if you don’t come for the lunch specials, then at least come and try the Japanese pizza.

Rating: 13/20 - Moral of the story: Don’t argue with Matt Preston

Teppansan Japanese Café on Urbanspoon

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