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A new dining culture

Julie-anne Sprague takes a look East this week and finds that, far from the expensive oddity it may have been a decade ago, Japanese food is finding rapid acceptance in Perth. A growing legion of devotees is discovering that good food can be good for you, and not burn a hole in you pocket.

YOU’D be hard pressed to find a catering company that did not offer California rolls on its menu. Most delis now have convenient takeaway packs and just about every suburban shopping centre has a sushi outlet in its food court, such is the level of acceptance of Japanese food from Perth consumers.

There is now such an abundance of Japanese outlets that there is a degree of segmentation between traditional Japanese outlets and mainstream restaurants.

From sushi trains, traditional serving sets, sushi bars and Japanese gardens, there are varying degrees of Japanese culture that come rolled into your dining experience.

Teppan Ya, Midori, and The New Shima Restaurant offer traditional teriyaki barbecue cooking, and while you or your husband, partner or good friend may think they can fire up the barbie, these chefs really know how to get things sizzling.

Perth’s Japanese chefs can really mix things up. Teppan Ya’s chefs juggle knives, forks and whatever they feel will enhance this theatrical style of dining.

Teppan Ya’s teppan yaki dining is an intimate dining experience that seats10 to 12 people around a table that encircles a chef, who cooks your food before your very eyes. The set menu ranges from $41.80 to $53.80. But if the flames of the Japanese-style barbecue aren’t really your thing, then normal table bookings are accepted. This restaurant seats 130 people and the a la carte menu starts at $20.

But if you’re not sure whether the guests you’ve invited for a night out enjoy Japanese cuisine, then a rarity in the mixed dining market would be Elements Restaurant.

Offering a la carte modern Australian cuisine as well as a Japanese menu, Elements combines the best of two worlds. Owner Andreas Supper (ex Jessica’s) brought in the experienced Japanese chef from Burswood, Kengo Omori, to make fresh sushi rolls at his sushi bar.

“You can tell the difference with our Japanese food. Most places use an enormous amount of rice and it sits in the fridges for hours,” Mr Supper says.

Some people who sit at the bar don’t even order off the menu.

“They have a chat to Kengo and ask him to make up something a little different or something that he would suggest. They sit and have a chat to him and watch him prepare their food,” he says.

While you can sit at any table in the main dining area and order dishes from the bar, you’d better book if you want to sit at the bar.

Australian-Mediterranean style menu has prompted Mr Supper to start offering a cooked Japanese menu as well as the a la carte menu at dinner time.

For those besotted with the refined and subtle Japanese dining experience, there’s a host of choices around town.

If you’ve ever walked past QV1 at lunchtime you’ll notice how popular Matsuri is. Matsuri offers traditional sushi sets, sashimi sets, as well as cooked Japanese favourites like tempura and teriyaki. Ordering a simple teppan yaki dish for about $12 gets you not just your main dish but also rice, miso soup, bean sprouts and salad. This place gets very busy so we advise you book for dinner, although lunch is first-in-best-dressed ... or fed.

Tsunami Japanese Restaurant in Mosman Park offers fine Japanese cuisine in addition to its French menu. This restaurant has a gorgeous Japanese garden, which books out faster than the main dining area, so if you want to enjoy its beauty be sure to let the people at Tsunami know you want a spot in the garden at the time of booking.

Teppen Ya: 566 Hay Street

Perth, 9325 5980.

Elements Restaurant: BGC Centre, 28 The Esplanade

Perth, 9226 5166.

Matsuri: Lower Level QV1, 250 St Georges Tce, 9322 7737.

Tsunami-Sushi and Other Fine Foods: 18 Glyde St, Mosman Park, 9284 7788.

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