Murasaki is one of the most popular teppanyaki restaurants in Broadbeach, conveniently located plump in the middle of the action on the corner of Surf Parade and Victoria Street. It’s Friday night and the family’s in town, one of them gluten intolerant. Japanese fits well – rice is OK, and teppanyaki fulfils the entertainment criteria.
Outside us on the corner, a live music duo pump out a lively beat as the miniskirts on stilts prance past. It’s a passing parade of sex on legs, a seeming competition of the shortest and briefest attire on a brisk spring night.
We’re seated facing the teppan, backs to the street, as our orders are taken and we settle into the evening’s business. We decide on the full caboodle, with seafood, chicken and steak, our only moderation being steamed rather than fried rice. Drinks flow and we gear up for a lively evening.
The raw food is brought out on trays to be cooked on the grill plate in front of us. And so the show begins… On three sides of a U-shaped bench three chefs work on separate teppan grills. There’s a bit of the ‘multi-Asia’ feel to the chefs’ nationalities, but of course teppanyaki isn’t Japanese anyway!
While the concept of preparing food as it is eaten is not new to Japanese, neither is cooking food on a grill, however teppanyaki, Japanese styled Western food, was only introduced to Japan soon after the World War II. It was more popular with foreigners than Japanese, not only for the spectacle, but also for the barbequed meat. In 1964, Rocky Aoki, founder of the popular restaurant chain Benihana, brought this form of tabletop cooking to the United States. Over the years, the theatrical elements have increased to include juggling of cooking utensils, tossing eggs into their hat, slicing eggs into the audience, and setting alight a tower of onion rings – burning Mount Fuji.
One Japanese chef put it this way:
“The way Japanese food is presented, the showy things or appearance is with this thought: We eat three times … first, we eat with the eye, meaning the appearance (of the food). Second, you eat with tongue, meaning it tastes good. And third, you eat with stomach or whole body, which means good for your body … healthy.” (Quoted by Jamie Chase, The 247.com)
Yes, it is pretty healthy, with meat and vegetables cooked on a hot grill with not too much fat. It’s fresh food that many of us enjoy and great entertainment as well. At Murasaki the portions are generous and there are lots of seats around the teppan.
Our chef is concentrating, not cracking a smile, as he slices, dices, flips and catches. The diners lap up each trick, the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ punctuating conversation as we watch the aerial acrobatics and cheer the chef along. It’s a polished performance with eggs landing whole, implements finding hands to catch them, and a piece of food landed in the most exposed cleavage – all in good fun. Just like the passersby outside, tonight it’s all about the show.
Shop 111, 89-90 Surf Parade, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5538 8918