Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Teppanyaki: 福賓 FWU BIN

Japan's influence on Taiwan is clear on a number of different levels, but perhaps the easiest to spot is the food. Taiwan has a wide selection of Japanese, or heavily Japanese- influenced food and most of it is cheaper than pretty much anywhere else I have eaten Japanese food. Shabu- Shabu style hot pot, sushi, sashimi, udon noodles, and Teppanyaki are all found everywhere on the island. Teppanyaki is a particularly popular choice, probably because it is one of the best bites for just a few bucks around.

The word Teppanyaki comes from the Japanese, which is pretty much directly used in Chinese-- 鐵板燒, or "iron-board- cooked." The iron board is actually a big steel cooking surface where the food is prepared in front of all of the customers who sit around it. Most westerners should think of the expensive Japanese steakhouses like Bennihana, where the chef plays with your food in front of you. In Taiwan, there is typically less showmanship involved in the food preparation, although sometimes you do get a bit lucky. The big plus of course with the Teppanyaki restaurants in Taiwan is that you can get a meal for as little as 100 NT (that's less than 3 USD!)

Although the menus vary from restaurant to restaurant, most have pretty standard offerings. Chicken; thinly sliced beef, lamb or pork; steaks; seafood or mushrooms are prepared in a black pepper sauce with onions, other spices, and sometimes fresh basil. To accompany the main meat dish, the chef often separately prepares bean sprouts and some kind of leafy green vegetable on the steel board. Your dishes are either served on metal dishes or aluminum foil that is placed on the edge of the board, where your food will stay hot. Most restaurants will also have self-serve rice and a simple soup that are included in the set price. So, to put it all together, you get a meat dish, two veggie sides, soup and rice for about 3 USD, 2 British quid, or 30 South African Rand.

Teppanyaki in Taiwan is pretty tasty. The black pepper sauce is peppy, but not fiery (additional chili-induced heat can be requested). The vegetables are garlicky and crisp-tender. It might not be the best meal you will have in Taiwan, but it probably will be the best taste:cost ratio around.

Here's just an example. Find a Teppanyaki restaurant near you.

福賓 牛頓  FWU BIN

Address: 台北市師大路49巷13號  No 13, Lane 49 Shi Da Road, Taipei City

Metro: Taipower Building

Phone: 02 23623132

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