Samurai Teppanyaki House is one of Adelaide’s most popular Japanese restaurants. Their inclusive dining experience and fresh, local ingredients bring locals and travelers alike to sit and watch as delicious meals are prepared right before your eyes.
So it only made sense for them to move from their previously modest location to a space four times it’s size on King William Rd in Hyde Park.
Clark Zhang, nicknamed “Superman” by his staff, greeted us warmly and took us on a tour of their bright new space.
“We designed the restaurant as a team and everyone helped in bringing it all together.” Zhang says as we walked.
The main dining area has loads of space to seat customers right at the main bar, where they can watch the action happen. However, on a busy night, you could also be sat at one of the tall tables near the bar; so even if you’re not front and center you can still see everything.
The beautiful space continued across to a lounge area, where customers can sit and enjoy a drink after they eat. It also allows the restaurant to easily host holiday parties, as there is room to eat, move around as well as relax in the lounge.
Next to this is a narrow outdoor courtyard with a tranquil fountain where you’ll find a peaceful moment. However, my favourite part was the two private dining rooms. Here you and an intimate group can enjoy an exclusive experience with your own chef. There is even a mobile wall dividing the two rooms, so they can join to accommodate a larger group of up to 20 people.
“We’ve hosted cooking classes here and they were very popular.” Zhang mentions. And I can see why! Teppanyaki looks as fun to make as it is delicious to eat.
Speaking of eating, after our tour we were sat right in front of an iron plate and anticipated all the incredible food we were about to indulge in.
But first, Saké! I had yet to try Japanese rice wine, so you can imagine how excited I was when we were treated to the Samurai Teppanyaki House Saké Tasting, getting to sample three from their wide variety. And when I say “wide variety”, I mean wide variety! They have 14 different Saké options to try, as well as the largest Japanese beer selection in all of Adelaide with 13 different types.
“It’s not true, when they say warm Saké is the traditional way to drink it.” Zhang says, “It’s actually meant to be enjoyed cold. Warming it up is sometimes for poor quality Saké, to hide the inferior taste.”
As we watched our chef masterfully prepare our dishes, Zhang sat with us and told us a little bit about Samurai Teppanyaki House and why he’s so passionate about teppanyaki.
“People often ask me, ‘You’re chinese, why did you choose to become a Japanese chef?’ I even asked my master this while in training. He said ‘It doesn’t matter who cooks your food, it matters how they cook your food.’ And I took this to heart.”
Zhang went on to tell us how important his ingredients are, as well as the integrity around where they come from. All the sauces are made in house as each recipe is of his own creation. His okonomiyaki recipe he mastered for over a year before putting it on the menu!
“Everything except out solf-shell crab is local to Australia.” Zhang’s commitment to local speaks to their drive for ulta-fresh-everything. From their duck to their cole slaw, it’s clear quality means everything to Samurai Teppanyaki House.
Soon our attention turned to Chef Dean, as flames flew high and food started to hit our plates. It’s a very one-on-one experience at Samurai Teppanyaki House. The chef engages with you and offers a unique personal connection as they cook. Dean asked us if we were okay with butter, noting they are able to accomodate for both vegans as well as those who are gluten-free. With a smile and a nod at the word “butter”, our first dish was ready to be devoured!
Green Tropical Lobster Tail
Zhang told us this was a “must-try” on the menu and boy, was he right! With lobster as fresh as this, it doesn’t need much to stand out. With a little char to offer some bitterness, balancing out the sweet lobster meat, this dish can only be described as perfect. A hit of fat from the butter along with a contrast of tang and creaminess from the optional sauces brought it over the edge. To echo Zhang, it’s a must-try!
Hervey Bay Scallops
Letting the flavours of the scallops stand out, they were tender with a sweet undertone. Scallops can be tough to cook right, however, Chef Dean made it look all too easy. Again, when your ingredients are fresh, you can let the dish sing all on its own.
Now, I am originally from British Columbia, so salmon is sort of my thing. So it means something when I say this is some of the best salmon I’ve ever had. It simply melted in my mouth! I nearly fought Lee for the last piece.
Crispy-Skin Duck Breast
While I don’t eat meat, this was another dish Zhang encouraged us to try. So Lee tasted the duck and described it as “Juicy with a crunch from the crispy skin. The sweet plum sauce accompanying it added a great balance to the meaty, fatty duck.” Another one from Samurai Teppanyaki House we encourage you to try if you haven’t already!
Soft Shell Crab Tempura
Getting tempura right is so important for authentic Japanese dishes. The light batter was crispy and delicate, allowing the meaty soft shell crab to really shine through. Simple and delicious!
This dish surprised the heck out of me. I knew I was going to like it, however, I wasn’t prepared to absolutely adore it! I totally understand why Zhang spent a year on the recipe. Lighter than a normal Japanese pancake, but with all the flavour of its heavier version. It had a great crunch from all the fresh veggies, which danced beautifully with the eggy, creamy flavours. I’d go back just for this dish!
Their signature coleslaw is lovely! Bright with a hit of citrus wrapped in a creamy dressing. A really nice bite.
This is another one which Lee tackled on his own. “The outside of the chicken was crispy and worked really well with the sweet sauce which accompanied it.” Says Lee. He has a tough job taking on all the meat-based dishes, but someone had to do it!
“It’s all about detail. Every little detail makes a difference in flavour, in presentation, in quality and in our customer’s experience.” Zhang says, and it seriously shows in both his food as well as the presentation of Samurai Teppanyaki House.
With a menu which is updated seasonally and plenty of events on the horizon, such a cooking classes, Samurai Teppanyaki House is more than just a Japanese restaurant. It’s an experience.
Head on down and enjoy a conversation with the chef while he makes you some simple, fresh and flavourful Japanese food. You won’t regret it!
Words by Jamieson Eileen
WHERE: 116 King William Rd, Hyde Park