Teppanyaki Inn, Collins St Melbourne - the oldest teppanyaki restaurant in Australia

I'm an avid lover of 'fun' meals where cooking or serving food involves more active participation from customers (such as hotpot or Korean bbq where it's mostly DIY) or a meal where we get to watch some sort of 'show' in front of us. The latter can be said for teppanyaki restaurants as talented chefs cook up a storm right in front of you. For those of you who don't know what teppanyaki is, teppan is the Japanese word for an iron plate and teppanyaki is naturally the type of cuisine cooked on top of iron plates. Some teppanyaki restaurants actually throw food at you where you're meant to catch it with your bowl, or if more daring, with your mouth. This type of participation can often lead to dirty shirts or burnt lips and is a rare occurrence nowadays.

I recently visited Teppanyaki Inn on Collins St, Melbourne after recommendations from an ex-colleague who is also Japanese. It was a very nice find albeit not being the cheapest meal out there, but we did get a lot of good value ingredients such as good grade beef and scallops. Situated at 182 Collins St, it didn't have much street frontage so it wasn't the easiest place to find. Once inside, I was in awe of the high ceiling and almost warehouse like feeling which is a good design for this type of cuisine (smoke and fumes from the hot plate needs ventilation). The restaurant was quite dark except for the lights on top of each teppan and created a very nice atmosphere. According to their website, Teppanyaki Inn was established in 1975 and was the earliest teppanyaki style eatery in the whole of Australia. That's certainly something to be proud of!

We were served with the usual sauces but this time, a waitress actually poured fresh sauce into the bowls. I liked that extra personal touch compared to the usual pre-poured bowls brought out from the kitchen. A thing to be careful of though, if you don't order a main meal, you will be charged an additional $10 for the sauces.

Waitress pouring sesame sauce

The sauces usually come in soy based and sesame based. You can dip the ingredients in whichever sauce you like, but I find meat goes better in the soy based sauce and seafood is better in the sesame sauce. That's just my preference though.

Dipping sauces - sesame and soy based

In between the sauces was complimentary pickled cucumber and wakame (seaweed) which was very refreshing. It made me salivate and wanting more!

Complimentary pickled cucumber and wakame (seaweed)

We went as a group of 11 and we all ordered the teppanyaki special dinner set for $59pp with the Tasmanian tenderloin beef. It's a common occurrence for teppanyaki chefs to combine two tables worth of food onto the one trolley to save space, since usually two hot plates are right next to each other. This trolley looked like way too much food even for 11 of us.

I was surprised though that two chefs actually came to cook for us because all the other tables only had one chef. I guess we had one of the largest groups that night. They worked very hard, especially the one who's further away in the photo. He was cooking away nonstop for us the whole night.

The first thing to appear on the hot plate was potatoes, although they didn't end up on our plates till a bit later as they took longer to cook. I love potatoes in any shape and form so this was a good start to the meal for me. They had been cooked for long enough to have a slightly crispy outer layer and a gooey soft and very hot middle.


Next up was mushrooms which is another favourite of mine. It's hard to get mushrooms wrong!


One of the highlights during a teppanyaki meal is watching the chefs cook and cut the prawns. The fast clinking of the knife and spatula make them look so professional.


The prawn heads are removed and flattened then cooked until so crunchy you can eat the whole thing, although it might not be the thing for everyone.

Separated prawn head and prawn meat

The scallops also had to be commended. They were juicy and cooked to perfection. I didn't even need to dip it in sauce to enjoy its natural flavours.

Prawns and scallops

A wedge of lemon was provided for the seafood along with a lemon squeezer. I had never seen this in a restaurant before and was a bit intrigued. I wonder where I'd be able to buy one for home.

After the seafood, we were ready for the main star of the night. Beef! The chef was so fast that I couldn't take a photo of the whole beef before he cut it up but when he noticed my frantic look, he was very nice and held the beef in place for me until I was done.

Tasmanian tenderloin beef

I loved the smell and sound of the beef scorching on the hot plate, although by the time we had to eat the beef, I was already getting a little full.

The beef also came with cooked garlic which might not be so good for the breathe but is fantastic together with the beef.

Tenderloin beef with garlic

A teppanyaki meal wouldn't be complete without freshly cooked veggies and nothing can be better than my two favourites - baby spinach and bean shoots. The spinach was as expected, refreshing, healthy and tasty. As we had just eaten a lot of beef, spinach was good to wash it all down and clean my palate.

Baby spinach

The bean shoots were lined up in a long row and divided into small equal portions for each person using a knife.

bean shoots

We were also served with rice and miso soup but I had already taken so many photos that I completely forgot to take one of them. They were however, no surprise. The miso soup was great after the huge meal and I frankly couldn't finish the rice at all. Not after a SECOND serving of beef! Yes, you read right. We somehow had a second serving of the same beef which I'm not sure why this was the case. Maybe they left some out during the first batch? I had to give some of my beef away since I was so bloated already.

I think the hardest job of being a teppanyaki chef is the cleaning up. The hot plate is VERY hot, I had burnt my finger on one before when I wasn't careful so having to lean on top of the hot plate all night and then having to use a lot of strength to scrape and wipe that hot plate down is not an easy or comfortable task at all. I have a great amount of respect for teppanyaki chefs so keep up the good work and never give up!

For the price, it's obviously not a place I can afford everyday but if I wanted to have teppanyaki, I would happily consider Teppanyaki Inn for a revisit. Atmosphere, service and food quality are all high on the scale and the location is great for a Friday night work or social gathering.

Teppanyaki Inn
Phone: (03) 9650 9431
182 Collins St, Melbourne CBD, VIC 3000

Teppanyaki Inn on Urbanspoon

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  1. Ooooo! I've always wanted to give this place a red hot go! Looks amazing!

  2. I love the theatre of teppanyaki but I'm absolute rubbish at catching the prawn heads in my mouth! :P

  3. @msihua, you should give it a go some time! The beef was great, as were the other ingredients. :)

    @Lorraine, I've actually never tried catching the food in my mouth, always been too chicken to try and tell them to just put it on my plate. :P

  4. haha I have been waiting for your blog for Teppanyaki Inn:)good to hear that you like it!

  5. @Ichi, sorry to have written about it so late! :P And thanks for the recommendation! Going to miss going to dinners with you, you always know the good Jap places. Make sure you find lots of good places in Tokyo so I can visit and eat lots. :)

  6. wow i been to teppenyaki once but it was no where near as yummy looking as this place- nice!

  7. Teppanyaki restaurants are so much fun, I haven't been to one in ages. Not sure if there is one here.
    BTW I like the name of your blog!

  8. @betty, thanks for your comment! I've been to quite a few teppanyaki places and this is one of the better ones for sure!

    @Three-Cookies, thanks! Many people don't know what it means though so I was thinking I should write an About Me thing and explain it. :P I agree too, teppanyaki places are so much fun!

  9. I've heard of this place before, although maybe I have it confused with Izakaya Den, which I'm assuming is a totally different thing because it's not Teppanyaki.

    Anyway, the food looks amazing! I love eating deep fried prawn heads. It's like eating chips!

    Also, I have a photography question: What do you do when you are photographing dishes in extreme low light? I sometimes use flash for those times, but I find flash very harsh, making the food look garish.

  10. @Choux-Fleur, I get excited when I see you post for some strange reason LOL. Call me weird I know. Yes, Izakaya Den is complete different, although both Japanese. :P

    It depends on how extreme the lighting conditions are, usually when it's fairly dark, I crank up the ISO to 800 or 1600 and also put the aperture up (or f stop down, whatever you like to call it, it's the same thing). So that's where you see the f3.2 or whatever the number is on the camera. The lower that f.number the brighter the lighting will be (you probably don't want to hear any more technical stuff about it). Anyway, I have a lens that goes down to f1.4 (my 50mm) so that's what I set it on if it's REALLY dark, plus combination of ISO 800 or 1600.

    If that fails because I find it hard to focus when it's that dark, I get my friend's iPhone 4 out and use the back light. It's still a bit intense, but way better than a flash (I used this in my Der Raum post). I NEVER use flash because it's quite ugly in my opinion and it annoys people in the restaurants. In fact, I probably should have asked you this first, but, do you actually have a DSLR? Because if you're just using a compact camera, the only option is maybe to use that back light (or try to sit near some sort of light, like near a window), unless if your compact can do manual controls like my old Canon S95.

    Also, hold VERY VERY still. Don't breathe. Put your elbows on the table or somehow stable yourself as much as possible.

    Hope this helps!! :D If you want any further info, let me know. :)

  11. BTW, you know that I'm still quite a newbie when it comes to taking photos right? A lot of my photos when it's dark turn out really bad. :( The nicer photos are usually during the day, or it's really bright in the restaurant.

  12. Oh thanks for the great tips!!

    I was at an indian restaurant and it was so dark but the food was really good and I really couldn't do much without the flash, but the photos look gross. I ended up wrapping tissue around the flash as a diffuser. I have two cameras. One is kind of a cross between a compact digital camera and a DSLR. Then there's my dad's nikon and that's a proper DSLR. That one does great photos but the fstop only goes down to about 4.5 which is annoying so I have to slow down the shutter speed. Next time I'll try the mobile phone flashlight. Seems like a good idea!

    Also, I'm loving your daily posts! They're just awesome :)

  13. @Choux-Fleur, no worries! Glad to help...I think if you really like taking photos of food in restaurants, it might be worthwhile getting a better lens..I use my Canon 50mm f1.4 all the time and it's only about $300 or so. There should be a similar one for Nikon :)

    It's hard work blogging everyday! I'm also going to run out of content soon so have to start cooking or something :P Glad you like them though :)