I want you to have a think about something for a minute. Imagine you were at work, sat at your desk typing away, but you do this with a dozen folk intently watching you. Pretty off putting hey.
Perhaps you work in a factory, skilfully crafting some high-tech component, how would you get on with an audience chatting away, some offering helpful tips as to how to do your job right.
Well the Teppanyaki chefs at Sapporo are constantly under these conditions. If working a restaurant kitchen wasn't hard enough, these guys don't get to hide away around the back. Nope they are front and centre, cooking and entertaining; which makes Sapporo as much about the show as the food.
The restaurant itself is a large open modern space located at the far end of the Merchant City, but still walkable from the train stations. There is plenty of on street parking, but be warned it fills up fast! There are no tables, in the traditional sense of the word, instead you sit side by side around the edge of the chefs cooking hobs in a large rectangle. Whilst this is great in letting you all see the action, it means that if you are a big group that your family, friends or colleagues can be some distance away, which isn't necessarily a bad thing! If you are a couple or a smaller party, you need to wait until there are enough other folk to make up the numbers around the chef, which means you'll probably be sat next to someone you don't know, but hopefully that won't put you off.
The early arrivals were offered drinks whilst waiting in the bar area, but for those of us arriving on time we were shown down to our seats and then had to wait a while for a waitress to come down to order drinks of our own. We got our menus at the same time and it was very simple to understand. Starters are varied, with plenty of Japanese favourites on offer, there is Sushi, Gyoza and Tempura and other hot appetizers. The main course you decide what you would like meat wise and then pick the accompaniments. There are also seafood and vegetarian choices. If it all gets too much for you, there are plenty of set menus to make life easier.
The starters were all a decent size and arrived quite quickly, however the distraction of the chefs setting up in front of you can almost make you forget your food is even there. The food is well presented and tasted great. It is a very palatable interpretation of Japanese cuisine, tailored for Scottish tastes so there is nothing to be afraid of. No Fugu on this menu!
The main course arrives in stages just after it has been prepared in front of you. The sautéed potatoes will keep you going until your vegetables, rice and choice of meat arrive. You never really notice the wait as there is so much going on, so just sit back and watch the show.
You get decent sized portions and of course you can see it is fresh and served piping hot.
The price is quite a bit more than you would pay for a traditionally served meal, but all of the entertainment you get from the chef's theatrics still make it good value. The set menus range from £25 to £40. A starter will set you back around £7. A main course twenty quid and the top priced Kobe steak came in at £40, although I would probably not bother with this to be honest, if you want steak, go to a steak house. If you want Sushi, noodles and Tempura go to a Japanese. If you want that with live cooking entertainment, head to Sapporo!