Overview of Teppanyaki and Wagyu
The world "wagyu" literally means Japanese beef and there are lots of varieties to choose from with "Kobe" beef being one of the most well know around the world and often considered the best in Japan for its marbled fat which simply melts in your mouth. This is not the only wagyu to go for though, and it might even not be your cup of tea if you prefer leaner cuts of meat. It's never a bad idea to ask the chef what he recommends based on what you usually like to have back home.
Teppanyaki cuisine is always cooked on a flat iron grill with there being basically two types to go for Japanese and Western. Japanese style serve dishes like "okonomiyaki" which is often described as Japanese pizza with the main ingredients being cabbage, eggs, pancake batter and toppings like pork, beef or seafood. "Yaki-soba" is a fried noodle dish with similar ingredients minus the pancake batter. Both come with a healthy dollop of a brown sauce similar to HP sauce of the UK. Western style teppanyaki is the steak, seafood and grilled vegetables which most people are more familiar with. Don't expect the chef to be doing an impression of Tom Cruise in the movie "Cocktail" though. As much as they show off their skills the more flamboyant teppanyaki chefs are more of an American invention. As a rule, the Japanese style restaurants are a lot more local and cheaper than the Western style, but that said, even though the beef can be expensive it is really worth a try even if only once in your life.
Places to try in Kyoto
These are in order of expected cost from low to high.
Okonomiyaki Yoshino吉野This is a super local spot and a bit hidden away down a little alley but very tasty and very cheap too. It's Japanese style so no wagyu here. The portions of yakisoba and okonomiyaki are generous and the tables are tight to each other so you may end up getting chatting with the people next to you too. It looks like a bit of a greasy spoon diner but it is really tasty. Closes at 8:30pm so go early if you can.
Teppanyaki Manryu 鉄板焼き萬隆A kind of in-between option which does both western and Japanese style dishes. The prices are good and they are very welcoming to international visitors. It can get busy so reservations are recommended.
Planca Ken プランチャー健
A very small and tricky to find place that does Western style teppanyaki and wagyu beef without breaking the bank. Very reasonable course menus from 5,000 yen a person. A decent selection of wine in a hidden little corner of Gion too.
Itoh Dining 伊藤ダイニング 京都
Often considered the top in class, this place does amazing kobe beef and it in a great location overlooking the Shirakawa river in Gion. Note that they get some bad reviews as the service is a bit formal and not everyone is used to forking over that amount for one meal. That said, I think it's worth trying if you have the budget to splurge.
Teppanyaki Gozan Nozomu 鉄板焼 五山望
I have a new favourite and it's Gozan Nozomu which is a restaurant located in the Granvia Hotel at Kyoto station. Great views of the city and an excellent selection of beef, seafood and plenty more. Courses start at 12,000yen/person but it really is an experience and not too well known compared to other options which are more popular with travellers.
Got a place you like in Kyoto? Or tried one of the above and want to spread the word? Write a comment below.