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Sapporo Teppanyaki review

Jonathan Schofield finds qualities and quibbles with a lunchtime express menu in Castlefield

Written by . Published on July 8th 2009.


Sapporo Teppanyaki review

So down to the waterside went the Confidential explorers for a lunchtime rendezvous. Our destination was Sapporo Teppanyaki in Castlefield. This handsome venue sits right on Liverpool Road, across from the Museum of Science and Industry, and above the canal arms of the Bridgewater Canal.

The best here was the chicken teriyaki. This had that dusky sweetness courtesy of the an essential ingredient in teriyaki, the Mirin wine , which also gave a good shiny glaze to the dish.

If you don’t know the place then you might want to try it for the food, the decor, the service and the show. Specifically the show. Spectacle doesn’t feature too prominently in many restaurants, but here the dining experience comes with a real experience in the form of a ‘show chef’ who, as many readers will be aware, performs at your table as he cooks.

The interior of the restaurant is smart and cleverly split between the street side dining area and the bar section with its view of Castlefield Arena and the canals. The fixtures and fittings are arranged to make guests feel as comfortable as possible with subtle, and not so subtle in the case of a waterwheel, Oriental influence.

We were here to sample the Lunch Express Menu (2 courses £9, 3 courses £12). We ate everything they had.

The starter choices were nigiri sushi, barbecue spare ribs, vegetable tempura and vegetable spring rolls.

The best of the bunch was the spare ribs, luscious, gooey and with loads of meat on them. Juicy. The nigiri sushi were next in order, rice shaped in fingers with fish on top. The wasabi, pickled ginger and radish helped provide bulk and flavour. The vegetable tempura and vegetable spring rolls were fair enough but no more, the tempura the pick of the two, but both dishes needed considerable attention from the condiments before passing muster.

The starters were delivered to our table from the kitchen: the mains came courtesy of a tossing troubadour of the cookery trade. Our show chef took up position in the centre of our dining area. Then he sliced, diced, chopped, topped and tailed our food a couple of feet from where we sat. After that he got down to the serious business of cooking on the hot plate. He made some jokes. He even clucked like a chicken whenever an egg hoved into view. I wanted to ask him to stop. He thought clucking was much funnier than it is.

The mains on the menu were chicken teriyaki, sirloin steak with barbecue sauce (eh? How Japanese is that?), fillet of salmon and yakisoba noodles with assorted vegetables. We also got portions of fried rice.

The best here was the chicken teriyaki. This had that dusky sweetness courtesy of the an essential ingredient in teriyaki, the Mirin wine , which also gave a good shiny glaze to the dish. The steak was good as well, but care needs to be taken with that barbecue sauce – in fact my advice would be to get rid of the latter completely, think of something different to let the meat speak for itself.

The salmon was decent enough and the noodles were right for the price. A little gem was the fried rice in Sapporo’s own style, with peppers and egg, which was precisely timed, moist and clean in its flavours.

The dessert of fresh fruit salad was charming in a sort of ‘me-gran-made-this’ way. But coming out to a restaurant to eat something you could prepare in two minutes isn’t good enough. If two courses are £9, and three £12, then presumably this pudding is £3. Not sure about that.

Overall then, Sapporo Teppanyaki’s express lunch is just about worth it especially the two course option. What adds value is the location away from the more hectic streets down Deansgate and the excellent and the attentive service. We were helped on our mission by a surprisingly laid-back and calming Pinot Grigio, Brume di Monte, from Trentino in Italy.

Of course you could come back in the evening when the place gets very busy and those show chefs really get with it. The clucking – to a much larger audience – makes sense then, it becomes part of the entertainment.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AvoJuly 8th 2009.

Two reviews of Japanese restaurants in the same week? Surely the ManCon budget could have been spent more wisely on reviews of different restaurants!

DidsburyGirlJuly 8th 2009.

Love it here, brilliant place for parties. Not sure if it would work for a couples meal though

GordoJuly 8th 2009.

oooh, Avo, aren't we naughty!

AnonymousJuly 8th 2009.

you'd be surprised. I went for Valentines and the place was absolutely chocablock with couples - it was a brilliant atmosphere. Definitely beats just your average table for 2 in your local restaurant!!

ChickJuly 8th 2009.

You went for Valentine's Day and it was chocablock with couples? Now there's a surprise

AnonymousJuly 8th 2009.

I wonder why Manchester does not have any good (real) Japanese restaurant?? There are so many "fake" Japanese (with poor quality). Where should we go?

Liverpool WagJuly 8th 2009.

Tokyo. Honest

DigJuly 8th 2009.

Or how about Sapporo?

AnonymousJuly 8th 2009.

Looking at the pictures in Tokyo season's review, surely they are not professional for the Japanese food. Not for Sapporo, either....

MissBoobyJuly 8th 2009.

I've never done lunch here but dinner. As entertaining as the chefs are at this place, I feel the standard of the food is sacrificed for the show they put on. I ordered King Scallops, my date ordered Monk Fish and you could tell that the quality of the fish was fantastic, but the cooking process and the enormous slabs of garlic and ginger let it down. I'd go there for a laugh, but then again, the prices you pay, you can have a laugh elsewhere with possibly better food, just your own entertainment....

AnonymousJuly 8th 2009.

We went here with friends over from Japan - sounds odd but after a fortnight here they were desperate for something that didn't taste too foreign. Apparently the food's good and authentic, although you wouldn't find all the different styles of cooking here in a single restaurant in Japan so that surprised them. They also said the set menu items would come in a different order over there, but otherwise it was a good job well done. Personally it didn't do it for me, talking in a group of four is very difficult as you have to sit in a row, but that's the style of the place. And you can't dissuade the chef from lobbing pieces of hot, fried potato at you. He wants you to catch it in your mouth. He doesn't care if you say no. I had four pieces slap me in the face before he gave up.

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