It’s a few minutes past five in the afternoon, and we’re waiting for Teppan Okochi to open. Inconspicuously sitting next to a bank in BGC, the teppanyaki restaurant has been praised for its prime grade meat, seafood, and good service.
Minutes past 5:30 pm, a bespectacled lady walks over to flip the signage, opens the tall glass doors, smiles, and lets us in. From the entrance, two hallways lit by yellow lighting lead to the teppanyaki counter.
As soon as you take a seat next to the teppan grill, it’s easy to forget everything else outside. Unless you happen to book one of the restaurant’s window-side private rooms, all your attention goes to the main gallery and the chef, who’s already getting the grill ready for your meal.
Chef Christian working the grill
It’s not my first time eating at a teppanyaki restaurant, but mixed feelings of anticipation and excitement take over. Eating at a teppan restaurant is a sort of novelty – sitting on the bar, watching the chef in front of you cook the dishes on the grill with precision and showmanship. Unfortunately, few return visits have been made because the food, unfortunately, is not memorable enough to go back. Hopefully, this won’t be the case with Teppan Okochi.
The restaurant, which started in 2017, reopened their doors this April after revamping their menu. The specialty remains the same however: teppanyaki, which is essentially cooking dishes (even soup and dessert) on the flat top grill.
Reservations aren’t required, but it would be best to drop by early if you’re in a group or just want the best seat in the place — by the teppan counter where you can watch all the action.
Grilled Caesar Salad
The Special Teppan Course (P1,990) starts with Grilled Caesar Salad. Crisp lettuce and tomatoes are tossed with crostini, buttered and toasted on the grill, and a legit Caesar dressing. The best part is what’s on top: a strip of cheese made from grated Parmesan layered on the grill and peeled off after several seconds. The result is a crispy strip of toasted cheese that just begs for another piece.
Pumpkin Cream Soup cooked on the teppan grill
Next on the course is Pumpkin Cream Soup, a simple, hearty soup of pureed pumpkin, cream and fresh black pepper. What makes Teppan Okochi’s version different is the soup is wrapped in a Carta Fata clear cooking foil and heated (without the wrapping melting!) on top of the grill.
A5 wagyu beef (Left) and Angus beef (Right)
For the main course, you can choose between meat or seafood to go with two side dishes. The seafood course includes prawns and the catch of the day paired with tartar sauce. If you’re feeling carnivorous, opt for the Angus steak with garlic chips instead; but if you’re feeling fancy (and willing to spend extra), upgrade your entrée to Grilled Prawn Truffle Oil and Grilled Scallop. Better yet, get the A5 Wagyu Beef.
Their A5 Wagyu Beef, considered the top grade for beef, is flown all the way from Kagoshima, which is known for producing some of the best wagyu beef in the world. The prep is straightforward. The meat is seasoned, seared, covered with a copper dome for a few seconds, and then served to you straight from the grill.
It’s impossible not to treat this with reverence. Dip into the steak sauce if you want; but honestly, you’ll taste the meat better with just a dash of smoked salt. Bite slowly and let your teeth sink into the buttery holy piece of beef.
The Osaka Experience Course (P980) is one of the new kids on Teppan Okochi’s menu. The course is a good deal because you get the Grilled Caesar Salad, a combo of okonomiyaki and yakisoba noodles, dessert, and coffee or tea. Not bad at all.
Grilled Chicken Teriyaki
The main course is Grilled Chicken Teriyaki, which sounds deceptively simple; but Teppan Okochi’s is done well. The meat is tender and seasoned properly, and the skin is very crispy after being pressed on the grill. You can opt for the King Salmon in Garlic Butter Sauce or Angus Beef for an extra fee.
Palm-sized oysters from Hokkaido
Teppan lunch courses are also available for an indulgent midday meal. Courses range from P480 to P980, but that depends on the meat you pick — Grilled Chicken Teriyaki, Grilled King Salmon or Angus Beef.
The Seafood Platter is a must-try if you’re all about the bounty of the sea. The platter includes squid, prawns and these gigantic oysters (all the way from Hokkaido) steamed in sake and soy sauce. The scallop, cut into chunks and served on a shell, is meaty and delicious. Mackerel, the day’s fresh catch, is hardly an afterthought. The white fish has the reputation for being dry, but this one was properly seasoned, flaky and tender.
You won’t always be in the mood to indulge in a full course meal, though. On days like that, you can pick up Teppan Okochi’s extensive a la carte menu. Each item on the menu comes with a picture, and while that’s intended for non-English speaking diners, it does help when you’re unsure what to order.
Teppan Okochi’s sashimi selection is ideal for a spontaneous, laidback dinner and drinks with friends. Their Salmon Sashimi (P380), in particular, melts at first bite; the fattiness of the salmon complemented by a touch of wasabi and soy sauce.
For something more filling, an order of Okonomiyaki (P380) is highly recommended and hands down one of the best ones in the Metro. Prepared the way they do it in Osaka, this one starts with a thick layer of cabbage, egg and flour batter, topped with pork belly. Each side is left to cook for eight minutes, so they get a really golden, addictive crust. The finale is a layer okonomi sauce, mayo, and dried nori specks on top. Delish.
Teppan Okochi offers a variety of noodle dishes, but their Yakisoba (P380) comes out on top for many reasons. They use thicker egg noodles, which lead to a nicer bite, each strand coated with the thick sauce. The noodles are topped with a runny egg (because why not?), crispy cabbage for crunch, and preserved ginger to cut the richness of the dish. Really good.
Sukiyaki is a great go-to for the rainy weather these days. Teppan Okochi’s version uses seared Angus beef sukiyaki cuts along with shiitake and enoki mushrooms, carrots, and vermicelli noodles in a broth of mirin and soy sauce. The way you’re supposed to eat it is how they do it traditionally in Japan. Take a piece of meat off the sukiyaki pot and dip it in a small bowl of raw eggs (yes, RAW), to give the meat a creamy coating.
Teppan Okochi also has a mix of traditional and teppan-inspired sweets.
Coffee Jelly and Masu Ice Cream
Their Coffee Jelly, a standard in most Japanese restaurants, is served in a margarita glass. The coffee gelatin cubes have a subtle bitterness that complement the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream on top. The Custard Roll, meanwhile, is reminiscent of brazo de mercedes, only this one tastes like a pancake with a custard filling. It does, however, verge on being too simple, and the cherry and mint leaf on top of the whipped cream struggle to complement the dessert.
The Masu Ice Cream with Crispy Crepe Cone is a teppan-inspired dessert. A scoop of ice cream with a swirl of chocolate sauce goes into a large cone that has been done on the grill. The final product is topped with a cherry and served on a masu cup, a wooden box used to traditionally drink sake in Japan. How you eat it: break a piece off the crispy cone and use it to transport ice cream into your mouth. Vanilla ice cream is typically used in both desserts mentioned, but other Japanese ice cream flavors – maybe sesame or matcha – would be fun alternatives to the classic flavor.
Too many varieties of whisky and sake
Teppan also has classic cocktails on the menu; but for something a little different, give their signature cocktail – the Wasabi Kick – a try. As the name implies, this one incorporates actual wasabi — not the tub of fake paste you get at the grocery — so the drink is slightly starchy. Take a sip slowly to prepare for the zing that’ll run down your throat.
Teppan Okochi’s cocktails: Wasabi Kick (Left) and Orange Decassis (Right)
Orange Decassis is a cocktail for those who like their drinks a little sweet and less intense. The drink starts with Crème de Decassis or blackcurrant liqueur and then freshly squeezed orange juice and ice. The ice cubes could be bigger, so the cocktail doesn’t get watered down quickly.
If you love sake, Teppan has 21 kinds of sake plus 15 vintage more to choose from. Sake is served traditionally here, poured to overflow on short glasses in masu cups (wooden boxes) to signify overflowing friendship. Whether or not you can drink the sake in the box, well, you can. Take a sip from the full cup, pour the leftover sake in the box to the glass and enjoy more sake.
There’s a reason why Teppan Okochi’s regulars keep coming back, and it goes beyond the showmanship that happens behind the teppanyaki grill. Dishes are seasoned well and cooked right; the staff is friendly, unpretentious and pay attention without being obtrusive. The menu is extensive enough that even before you leave, you already have something in mind you’ll want to try the next time you come back. Because you know you will and because the food will definitely not disappoint.
Unit 7 Ground Floor Ore Square Building, 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
11:30AM – 2:30PM, 5:30PM – 10PM