Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that is derived from the words “teppan” (iron plate) and “yaki” (grilled, boiled or pan-fried), so it literally means grilling on an iron plate. While it’s not a new concept to The Bahamas, you no longer have to purchase a day pass to a resort to experience this art form that’s a combination of ancient Japanese cooking techniques and modern performance art as Latitudes, one of the country’s newest dining outposts, has brought this art form into the open for the enjoyment of all. Not only will you have a great time when pulling up a seat at one of Latitudes’ four teppanyaki tables, but don’t be surprised when you draw a crowd from the north, west and south sides of the restaurant wanting to witness the spectacle that takes place in the eastern portion.
The dishes cooked using an iron plate include meat, seafood and noodles. And while it’s a style of cooking, it’s definitely more of a performance. It’s a sight to behold watching the chef’s skilled maneuvers as they prepare food. Eight guests can be entertained at each of their four tables which has a teppan grill in the middle, and the show begins with the chef’s knife, fork and spatula flipping, drumming and clanging show. Think of it as his introduction.
The chef then proceeded to chop and dice the food before setting the grill aflame in a blaze that made me and the people at the table next to mine go whoa! – you definitely feel the heat, but no worries, we were also totally safe. He set about creating a feast for the eyes – throwing an egg in the air and splitting it with his spatula to cook on the grill; chopping and preparing vegetables; cooking the fried rice; arranging onion rings into a fire-shooting volcano; grilling the meat/seafood of choice to each guest’s desired temperature, all while keeping the table entertained as the meal was prepared. And don’t blink, because the first bowl of rice off the grill he served up was flipped to a diner. If you happen to blink, you just may miss this amazing trick; he only did it once.
As each item is ready, the chef takes it off the grill and serves it up, so the additions kept coming – first the rice, then the seafood, followed by the meats – and accompanying sauces which the chef pointed out would go with each item.
The teppanyaki experience comes complete with Thai coconut soup, rice and vegetables, and is, of course, sweetly finished with tempura gelato (fried ice cream for the uninitiated).
Teppanyaki is one of those things you should be prepared to have fun with. Go in with the idea of getting “turnt up” because you may find yourself sitting with strangers at the start of your meal, but at the end of it you may have found a new friend if just for the evening and the dining experience.
And there’s a protein offering for every palate – Caribbean lobster, filet mignon, scallops, shrimp, New York Strip, salmon, chicken breast and Tasmanian trout, which has a vibrant, intense color, purity of flavor and luscious marbling which makes them an ideal-eating fish with a flavor that is more subtle and less salty than Atlantic or farmed salmon. And you can mix and match with seafood combos (shrimp, scallops and calamari), trio special (filet mignon, chicken breast and shrimp), supreme (filet mignon and lobster tail), surf and turf (New York Strip and shrimp), or chicken and shrimp. Or just let teppanyaki hype man Kendrick know your tastes and he will be certain to have the teppanyaki chef facilitate your request.
As for the sushi rolls – there are lots of interesting things that they’ve put together that are worth trying, like the plantain crispy roll – cream cheese, shrimp, avocado, sweet soy sauce and sesame seeds; duo salmon – grilled salmon, cucumber, avocado, raw salmon and tamarind sauce; angry bird – tuna, shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, kimchi sauce and tamarind sauce; the Latitudes – lobster tempura, cucumber, avocado, potato chips, spicy mayo, tamarind sauce and cream cheese; fire roll – shrimp tempura, tuna, salmon, hamachi, cucumber, spicy mayo, sweet soy sauce, sesame oil and bubu arare (bite-sized Japanese crackers made from glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce); or BBQ eel crispy roll – eel skin tempura, asparagus, tuna, avocado, cucumber and sweet soy sauce. And that’s just a sampling of the sushi rolls on offer, and who can pass up the nigiri and sashimi. It’s going to take a number of visits to get through just the sushi menu alone.
Prior to the teppanyaki show, perusing offerings at the sushi bar is a must. After consultation with Kendrick and explaining my likes and dislikes, he suggested I go with the unagi avocado as I love eel, and this roll, a Latitudes signature, features grilled eel, shrimp tempura, sweet soy sauce, cucumber and avocado. It’s a delicious bite. The flavors came together perfectly.
He also suggested the hamachi with jalapeño – you can never go wrong with hamachi and jalapeño, as far as I’m concerned.
And even though I shy away from tempura, he strongly suggested another signature roll, the fire roll, which lived up to its name. It was spicy, but not overly spicy. It gave you that hint of heat that made you take notice and go – I really like that.
Dining with my sister who enjoys tempura rolls, we also went with the Nassau conch roll per Kendrick’s urging, and the shrimp tempura which my sister orders no matter what is on the menu.
The Nassau conch roll – conch tempura, mango, cucumber, avocado, conch ceviche and tamarind sauce – came together for a flavor profile that was reminiscent of a cracked conch, which took me by surprise as it was a taste I had not expected but which balanced well with the tamarind sauce, all in a roll that I would do again, considering I don’t opt for tempura at all.
At Latitudes, the shrimp tempura is also served a little differently than I’m accustomed to and featured cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, tanuki, sweet soy sauce, salmon and spicy mayo.
Latitudes, located on East Bay Street, opposite the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, has been open for four months.