Dancing Japanese Pancakes (Teppanyaki Kyoto, Pittsburgh)

September 2012

If “Japanese food” means more to you than sushi, there is a Pittsburgh restaurant just for you! If you like your food to combine fresh ingredients and a little bit of spectacle, there is a Pittsburgh restaurant just for you! If you like your food to encourage sharing…you get the idea! Said Pittsburgh restaurant is Teppanyaki Kyoto, located on the tiny main drag of the Highland Park neighborhood (where you’ll also find me brunching at e2). Teppanyaki (teppan for iron plate and yaki for grilled/boiled/pan-fried) is a style of cuisine centered around the iron griddle.

The faded logo made my chopsticks look unhappy, but luckily, there is an old Japanese remedy for unhappiness, and at Teppanyaki, the happiness syrum arrives in beautiful pottery. It is even purported to slay goblins!

“Goblin Killer” Sake
Warm, smooth and sips so easily. There will be refills!

Seaweed Salad
Pretty straightforward but worth ordering nonetheless.

Takoyaki
Dumplings made of batter and filled with diced octopus

If the more gelatinous preparations of octopus send you to other sections of a menu, have no fear. These little dumplings are amply packed with octopus chunks that still require a bite. I highly recommend this appetizer!

Japanese Pancakes (multiple varieties)
Wheat flour, cabbage, egg, choice of meat, topped with bonito fish flakes and spicy mayo

This is the specialty, and the advantage of eating with several friends is sampling all the different flavor combinations of pork, beef and seafood. The pancakes are really light, so the other advantage of sharing is justifying the number of pancakes that end up on the table. As the plates arrive, a little flutter might catch your eye. No, you are not mistaken. That pancake is dancing! Want to know why…?

Now you’ll be able to impress your dining companions when they behold the magic of the dancing pancake, and you tell them, “it’s simply thermal expansion at work. It’s science!” Be sure to offer your enlightening knowledge before dessert arrives. Studies show listening wanes when green tea mochi is served!

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