Teppansan is a small, downmarket, fairly nondescript looking restaurant on Russell Street, providing cheap lunches aimed at the student and officer worker crowd. It's hardly unique in that but it does have something that its neighbours do not have, a clutch of Age Cheap Eats stickers for the past few years pasted on the window. While a Cheap Eats recommendation is a hardly a definitive guide to the quality of a place it's normally enough to suggest that it might be worthwhile checking out.
The restaurant itself is a slight surprise when you enter. I was expecting something small and fairly pokey but instead it's a bit Tardis like in that the inside appears bigger than the outside, the room long and light. A few decorations on the wall, some friendly staff and a bit of sizzle from the open kitchen near the entrance and first impressions are positive.
My lunchtime set meal option included a couple of small prawn and pork dim sims as well as some small vegetarian spring rolls. Of the two I thought that spring rolls were the better, very nicely fried so as to be crunchy but not hard. On the other hand the dim sims had an unusually strong taste that I didn't particularly like, and didn't taste especially fresh.
I hadn't had okonomiyaki before although I do know they are a very popular snack in parts of Japan. You often see them though in food courts, sitting next to the yakitori. Normally when I have seen them they have looked like a large, flat patty, sometimes folded over but served topped with mayonnaise and a sweet dark sauce. This version was almost like a wrap, not made with the normal bread but with the casing folded up over the ingredients, in this case pork, and topped with Benito flakes. Because of the sauce and mayonnaise I thought this might be a quite heavy dish and filling but instead was nice and light with fresh, slightly zingy flavours. I can't comment on whether the style in which it was made is authentic but both Snooze and I gave it a thumbs up.
Snooze's set lunch option was the Oyako Don, chicken and egg on rice. I quite like Don (one rice) meals and this was a good one. Surprisingly it wasn't so much the chicken or egg that I liked so much as the fluffy, beautifully cooked rice. Very generous serve too, with Snooze unable to finish it even with a bit of help from me.
But what really tipped me over into liking this place were the drinks. Snooze's tea looked very cute served in its pot. But more importantly I loved my green tea (soy) shake. Lacking any of the bitterness you sometimes get from green tea ice cream, light and frothy, great flavour and very refreshing.
A very nice surprise given I had avoided it for so long and a great option for a cheapish lunch. Staff were quietly efficient and our food came out in a reasonable time for someone just popping out of the office. In addition to the lunchtime set meals there is also a fairly extensive range of other dishes available to try out. But best of all, I'll be back again for that green tea shake!
Food - 8
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 7
Price - 8
179 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 1938