Harley Young attempts to catch flying chips at Sapporo Teppanyaki in Castlefield
Castlefield has a rather unusual array of bars and restaurants these days. Walk down Liverpool Road, parallel with the Science and Industry Museum and you’ll find the usual suspects: The White Lion - a Craft Union pub showing sports; The Oxnoble - a traditional boozer-cum-B&B. But tread a little further and you’ll come across Killer Prawns, Big Licks, and a whole host of other eccentric eateries.
In fact, compared to its neighbours, Sapporo is probably one of the more typical places on Liverpool Road. But there’s definitely something different about this place. Take the flying chips for a start.
It felt like I was being asked to partake in the adult equivalent of the choo-choo train
The restaurant itself is split into six different tables for teppanyaki-style serving, with some other tables further down the room. Each teppanyaki table is a horseshoe shape with around 16 seats facing inwards towards the hot plates in the middle. It’s cosy. On busier days you’ll be rubbing shoulders with pairs, parties and work nights out. Perhaps not somewhere to have a first date, like the young couple to the right of me seemed to have done as they sat awkwardly staring at the chef and not at each other.
A server promptly came to take our drinks order, a bottle of rose ́‘aumerade style’, before asking us what we’d like to eat. We ordered a pair of starters in the form of calamari and chicken gyoza. The calamari came accompanied by a creamy garlic dip and tasted pretty fresh; not too rubbery or fishy and with just a hint of lemon. Gyozas are presented in portions of five with a small bowl of spicy soy sauce and are adequately crispy. It didn’t take long for them to be polished off by my partner.
Whilst ordering our starters we also placed an order for our mains, minted lamb fillet and swordfish steak in a garlic soy butter. Once our table’s orders were all in, the chef dedicated to each table familiarises themselves with the customers requests and swiftly gets to work on setting up the station.
Before your food is served, there’s a pretty impressive show of skill involving juggling spatulas, catching eggs in hats and fire. Lots of fire. Be sparing with the hairspray if you get a seat in front of the hot plate. You’ve been warned.
Then comes the potato throwing and catching ‘contest’. If you’re looking for a reserved, quiet meal out this isn’t it. Things could get very awkward if you’re not a partaker in…what do they call it? 'Fun’.
Thankfully, the whole table took on the challenge like they’d been gearing up for it all week, clapping their hands like seals as they opened their mouths to catch the flying carbs. One bald man even caught his starchy morsel on his head. His friends erupted in laughter. Then came my turn. It felt like I was being asked to partake in the adult equivalent of the choo-choo train. I complied but missed. Twice.
Each dish on the signature teppanyaki menu is accompanied by stir fried vegetables, egg fried rice and sauteed potatoes, all of which should be eaten as they are made and dished out in front of you. For the sake of the photos we held out on eating them until the fish and meat were ready, so that you, dear reader, know exactly what you’re getting if you decide to take a trip down to Sapporo.
The lamb was served in manageable bite-sized fillets and melted away without much need to chew them. A succulent and moreish plate, although the teriyaki mint sauce did remind us of flavours you'd have with a Sunday dinner.
Unfortunately, the swordfish steak didn’t have the sharp stab of flavour as I’d hoped. It was just a piece of swordfish topped with diced garlic; uneventful and dry.
Our accompanying vegetables were well cooked, nicely seasoned, and the portion of rice was generous enough to fill the remaining space on the plate.
After the show was over and we’d finished our meals, we perused the dessert menu.
Most of the options were deep fried dishes, like the tempura pineapple, or the chocolate spring rolls (which I decided on). They also had the classics like ice creams and sorbets as well as ‘cake of the day’.
Speaking as a self-confessed chocoholic, the spring rolls were a nice way to end the visit, although they can be greasy and lay heavily on the stomach.
Sapporo Teppanyaki is a fun spot to try as a family or group of friends, especially if you like food challenges (and your meal served straight into your mouth). The chefs are probably the most friendly and welcoming chefs I’ve ever met and the serving team goes above and beyond to make sure you’re settled. Did the food blow me away? Not quite, but I had an enjoyable time nonetheless and they certainly know how to put on a show.
91-93 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4JN
Follow Harley Young on Twitter @Harley__Young
Gyoza 7, calamari 6, lamb fillet 7, swordfish steak 5, chocolate spring rolls 6.
A friendly team who couldn’t do enough for you. The chefs really do love what they do.
Buzzing and loud, both in style and decibels. There’s so much going on you’re not sure where to look next, but it’s a great place for a birthday celebration or something similar.