Sunday, 29 April 2012


OK, maybe that is a little bit of an over exaggeration, but Sen-Pretty Darn Good doesn't quite have the same ring to it. On Thursday evening I went to my first teppanyaki experience at Sen Nin in Islington. I had also declined to tell my dining partner that this was theatre dining and we were going to be expected to catch food in our mouths...

I wasn't as starving as I was aiming to be having had a whopping great portion of fish and chips (and half a battered sausage, but whose counting?) at lunchtime. I knew the menu was extensive as we had pre-booked the imperial feast.

We were the first of our 'bank' to arrive. With the live dining you sit in groups of around 10 at an extremely hot teppanyaki griddle surface and your waiter prepares the mains in front of you. First up being Japanese was miso soup (and a sake cocktail...). We also had the tapas of maki rolls, spring rolls, salad and dumplings. The sushi and dumplings were highlights for me. Unfortunately I didn't notice the regular wasabi until it was too late. The one which was served on a separate dish along with soy and chili was lacking seriously in consistency and heat. I seem to have neglected to take photos of most of this, must have been the sake...

You are kept all dining at the same pace so everyone can enjoy the cooking theatre. It started with the cooking of the rice. This arrived on a plate and was steaming so was obviously cooked properly before it arrived and then just finished off live. Now it is 100% clear to me why egg fried rice always tastes sooo darn good, an immense amount of butter, lashings of salt and pepper and a job lot of garlic. Job done. The way he just cracked the eggs on the surface and whipped them into a frenzy and whipped into the rice was amazing. I wish I could cook like that. My dining partner did point out I just need to get one of those teppanyaki ovens and a Japanese (or Filipino in our case) chef to move in.

This is where the theatre started. A few of us had a chance to try one of his tricks, flipping an egg into the chef's hat. He of course did this seamlessly and made it look easy. I did not. Luckily someone was on hand to clean up my mess. Apparently I missed by quite a long way. I also didn't fate very well the first two times I tried to catch the cooked egg in my mouth. One time it came tantalisingly close but bounced off my nose. Later on however - I would master this and by very proud of myself. Perhaps the 4 jugs of chilled Sake we drank gave me better mouth/eye coordination...

We had opted for mains to try the steak, tilapia and salmon. Boy am I glad. I don't know what the chicken tasted like but the beef was incredibly tender and perfectly coated in a teriyaki dressing. The tilapia was exactly as it should be, fluffy and white on the inside with a slight chargrill on the outer. The vegetables were delicious. Again this must have to do with the extensive quantities of butter, salt, pepper and garlic they were sizzling in. Our chef was also pretty creative, making me a heart and giving it a little beat with his 'flipper' (technical term).

Overall the meal was really enjoyable. Not the best food I've ever eaten but the entertainment more than makes up for it. We both said we'd come back in a bigger group, it would be really fun to have the whole 'bank' to yourself especially if you were celebrating a special occasion.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3/5
Drink: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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