These 3 things make typical Japanese Teppanyaki Food

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 26, 2020

Teppanyaki is a Japanese-style cuisine that utilizes an iron cooking device with a flat surface to cook food.

Teppanyaki comes from the Japanese term teppan, meaning iron plate, and yaki, meaning pan-fried, grilled, or broiled.

Therefore, the term teppanyaki literally translates to pan-frying, grilling, or broiling on an iron plate.


In addition, teppanyaki is inspired by Western side dishes and Eastern flavors.

One of the perks of ordering a teppanyaki cuisine is its versatility. You can definitely choose your desired ingredients and even the amount and type of oil and seasoning.

In this post I’ll share my love for teppanyaki and get to some of your most frequently asked questions about Japanese cuisine.

Typical Teppanyaki food consists of well-seasoned meat, fish or vegetables in most often at least soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper and is grilled in vegetable oil. It is served as a main course with multiple side-dishes to accompany the main dish:

  1. it’s grilled on a flat surface
  2. it’s served as several side-dishes with the main course
  3. it uses fish, vegetables or meat with vegetable oil and spices
Typical teppanyaki foods seasoned meat or fish

I have a lot of fun making it at home and you can too with these items in my buying guide.

Brief History of Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki started in Japan about 200 years ago. It was in 1945 that the first teppanyaki restaurant, Misono, was opened in Kobe.

As claimed by Misono, they were the first restaurant that popularized the concept of cooking food on a grill in front of customers.

What’s interesting is that this style of cooking became more famous in foreign countries than in Japan.

A lot of foreigners love to witness the highly skilled chefs maneuvering the ingredients.

When Misono became more popular with tourists, they decided to improve the performance portion of the food preparation.

Chefs now perform food stunts (e.g., stacking onions to form a flaming onion volcano).

Teppanyaki onion volcano showmanship

This is a text overlay image of the original work Kono Hibachi, Myrtle Beach by Ginny on Flickr under cc. What an amazing shot of Teppanyaki in action!

After World War II, teppanyaki was introduced in the Western society. Until in 1964, the first US teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana, was opened in New York.

As the years go by, teppanyaki has evolved. It is not about cooking anymore, but it became a form of art.

Equipment and Ingredients Used in Teppanyaki Cuisines

Wide and flat iron grill, known as a teppan grill, is the primary equipment used in preparing teppanyaki cuisines.

Usually, the teppan grill is situated tableside with the chef preparing food in front of the customers.

In addition to the teppan grill, other equipment includes metal spatulas, grill fork, and huge, razor-sharp knife. These are all needed to manipulate the ingredients.

Also read our article on the essential teppanyaki tools

What can you typically find in a Teppanyaki restaurant?

Many teppanyaki restaurants utilize costly, high-quality ingredients, thereby making this cuisine a fancy meal for special events or occasions.

Teppanyaki can be primarily made:

Other ingredients include seasonings (wine, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, salt, and garlic) and minced or cut veggies (bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, and onions).

Teppanyaki restaurants

Teppanyaki cuisine is not only common in Japan, but it is also a popular cuisine in the Western world.

When it comes to Japanese-style teppanyaki, the ingredients that are usually utilized are seafood or chopped meat, cabbage, and yakisoba.

Vegetable oil, animal fat, or both are used to cook the ingredients. Beef is also an ingredient used by many restaurants in Japan.

They particularly feature high-quality beef brands such as Kobe, Matsusaka, and Akita.

However, some restaurants also offer less costly beef coming from the USA and New Zealand. The beef cuts in teppanyaki are either choice sirloin or tenderloin.

On the other hand, the common ingredients utilized in preparing Western teppanyaki include lobster, shrimp, chicken, beef, scallops, and veggies. All these are cooked using soybean oil.

Teppanyaki cuisines are served with a side dish. Ingredients used in preparing side dishes comprise zucchini, mung bean sprouts, crispy garlic chips, and fried rice.

Some restaurants offer dipping sauces; however, soy sauce is only provided in Japan.


Teppanyaki Courses

Each restaurant offers various menus when it comes to teppanyaki; the most common of these is a Western-style course menu with a twist of Japanese course.

Normally, course menus begin with an appetizer like salad or soup, then a seafood course, the main course (a meat dish), a rice course, and a dessert including tea or coffee. The following are some of the teppanyaki courses:

Since teppanyaki is a counterpart of the American steak in Japan, it is not surprising that the meat is the primary course of the meal.

Japanese teppanyaki dining allows you to savor the rich sweetness of top-quality black-haired wagyu beef.

Fried rice and egg or risotto are also served during a teppanyaki dinner. The rice is directly cooked on a teppan cooktop.

Highly skilled chefs usually toss the egg into the air through a spatula prior to frying it.

In a seafood course, prawns and scallops are commonly grilled. When it comes to seafood course, Hokkaido black abalone and Ise spiny lobster are popular in Japan.

Teppanyaki vegan recipe includes fried vegetables with rice. Carrots, white cabbage, and julienned zucchini are some examples of these veggies.

Using a tangy sauce, these vegetables are sautéed. This can be served with or without starch.

Teppanyaki as an Art


Although teppanyaki is a cooking style,   it is also considered as a form of art. As a matter of fact, it is a blend of old-fashioned Japanese cooking methods and contemporary performance art.

As mentioned earlier, teppanyaki cuisines are prepared in front of diners.

In the long run, this concept has turned into a food entertainment or show.

Because of this, many Japanese movies and TV series usually highlight socially elite individuals enjoying their teppanyaki meal.

One main focus of teppanyaki dining is the chef’s ability to demonstrate various cooking techniques.

This enables guests to have a dining experience the same as the dinner theater.

The exhibitions that chefs do include cooked prawn flipping, precisely slicing or cutting meat or seafood, and flame setting to chopped onions.

Your teppanyaki experience won’t be complete without witnessing the art of teppanyaki cooking.

Additional questions around Japanese Food you guys asked

Here are our answer to the most common questions you guys asked us on social media around Japanese food:

Is it rude to finish your plate in Japan?

Plate with something left on it - its rude to finish your plate in Japan

You should definitely enjoy your dinner, loudly even. Slurping is considered a great compliment to the chef so don’t hold back. When enjoying your plate of Japanese food though, leave a little behind. In Japan as well as China, it’s considered rude to finish your plate entirely because it suggests that you didn’t receive enough food.

Do Japanese eat avocado?

Person eating dinner with chopsticks and avocado - do Japanese people eat avocado

Japanese people do eat avocado, although they have only started doing so recently. Avocado is not grown domestically much so most of the consumed vegetables of this kind are imported from Mexico.

Avocado is therefore more of a Mexican ingredient than it is a Japanese one.

Do Japanese burp after meals?

Japanese restaurant - Do the Japanese burp after eating

There are a few things considered bad table manners in Japan, and burping is one of them:

  1. burping
  2. blowing your nose
  3. audible chewing sounds
  4. moving around food with the eating side of your chopsticks

So no, the Japanese do not burp after meals.

What is a typical Japanese diet?

Sushi on a wood platter - what is a typical Japanese diet

The typical Japanese diet consist of a lot of rice meals, although they eat a lot more noodles, like ramen, than their Chinese neighbours. More like Korea, which lies in between the two nations. They also eat a lot of fish, mostly raw in sushi and sashimi dishes or fermented like katsuobushi and a lot less meat than most western countries.

What kind of food do they eat in Japan?

Ramen bowl - what kind of food do they eat in Japan

There are a few different types of food most Japanese eat at home during a week:

Is Japanese food healthy?

Vegetables in broth - is Japanese food healthy

When going to a Japanese American restaurant, you might not get a super healthy meal. Though sushi is light and healthy, most teppanyaki places will use a lot of red meat. In Japan their diet is well balanced, with more fish than meat and a lot of vegetables cooked in broth. Since they make everything fresh there is not much processed food the meals are low in calories and full of nutrients.

What do Japanese people have for lunch?

Rice bowl - what do Japanese have for lunch

The Japanese diet largely consists of rice and noodles, so for lunch they oftentimes eat a rice or noodle bowl with steamed vegetables. This could be a dashi broth with noodles or a nice ramen soup.

Do Japanese eat bread?

Sliced Bread - do Japanese eat bread

The Japanese don’t eat bread like we do. Instead, they eat rice with every meal, or noodles for a main dish. Even at breakfast, which is considered the most important meal of the day in Japan, rice is served. Not bread.

Do Japanese eat fish everyday?

Fishmarket - do Japanese eat fish everyday

The Japanese don’t eat fish literally everyday because they might eat pork or beef once in a while as well, but on average they eat about 3 ounces of fish per day. This is about 6 times as much fish consumption as the average person in America.

What is a typical Japanese breakfast?

Rice and soup - what is a typical Japanese breakfast

Japanese consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day, so to start of the day well, they usually eat a complete meal:

What do poor Japanese eat?

Poor man eating - what do poor Japanese eat

The poor community in Japan also has to eat, and while a typical Japanese meal may include fish, the poor more often choose cheap meats like pork and chicken to substitute a protein source. A meal would be steamed rice, some chicken and less expensive or often homegrown vegetables.

Final Thoughts

Teppanyaki is a popular cuisine in Japan and Western countries. It comprises a wide range of high-quality ingredients, making it a versatile choice for many diners. Whether you are a vegan or carnivorous, teppanyaki restaurants got you covered.

Teppanyaki dining does not only allow you to be filled and satisfied with delectable food, but it also enables you to enjoy a spectacular show of knife skills and cooking techniques.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.