Take, pronounced `tar-keh', [bamboo in Japanese] has replaced the old FJ's in Jln. Padma, Legian! The old Holden [not a real FJ], has been removed from above the doorway and no doubt gone to the scrap heap. Whilst many may lament that change [or is it Percy the grand organiser of beer consumption and general merriment, that they miss?], the place is still under the same management. But no, Mr. Percy does not greet you at the door in a kimono, a bottle of Japanese beer in hand!
This has been one quality fit-out! As you enter, a small intimate [for Bali, where they sometimes sit up to 40] Teppanyaki Grill bar, is on your left. On the right is stretched a long eating bar, at comfortable height, predominately for Robatayaki. Upstairs are a series of small private dining rooms, and the whole place is pleasantly air-conditioned. The fresh smell of typical Japanese cleanliness, is everywhere.
Is the food as impressive as the place?
I am glad to report that it is. My first visit was to sample the Robatayaki. Being a lover of that weight-inducing habit of `forever snacking', I have always enjoyed facing a never-ending line of small tasty entrees. I guess that is just about the best way to describe this type of Japanese food. All are prepared in front of you at the barbecue, and handed out via a giant paddle. In front of you, between you and the chef, are all the possibilities that you can order. They are packed in ice behind a glass wall on top of the counter.
We started with chicken Yakytori, chicken pieces on a skewer dipped in a soy/sake mix. Then followed Onigiri, chicken with leek, Sakana Dangoyaki, very tasty fish balls, Ika Dangoyaki, unusual squid balls, Gyuniku Nambanyaki, thin slice of beef wrapped around a long thin leek. Alternately we could have had Gyuniku Aspara, the same beef but this time wrapped around a stalks of asparagus. Both beef dishes are served after having been dipped into a soy concoction and chopped into bite sized chunks.
Oebi Shioyaki consists of three skewers, each containing a small green prawn, small but very delicate in taste. Mushrooms and potatoes are also musts for Robatayaki. The mushrooms are thinly sliced and placed in a boat of tin foil in liquid, and cooked over the barbecue. The potatoes are cooked in their jackets, then quartered for eating.
Many other choices are available; livers, fish heads, many types of small fish, squid, small crabs, roasted garlic, steaks and other goodies.
With Robatayaki you always finish with barbecued rice cakes. These are strange triangles of rice, that have been dipped in a soy solution, and finish up as firm rice cakes to be eaten by hand. With this style of cuisine, rice is not eaten during the meal, just this rice cake at the end.
Throughout your enjoyable meal you will be entertained by Big Mouth Billie Bass telling you over and over to `don't worry?be happy'. At first I thought that this fish, mounted to the wall straight ahead of us, was just waving it's electronic tail to the beat of the music. Suddenly I was surprised to see it's head swing around towards me, singing the words of the song in perfect lip-sync tradition!
On the other side of this charming room, is the special Teppanyaki Grill area. Seating only about 10, every evening a different set menu is available. The chef prepares your meal in front of you. This week it consisted of [for Rp.165,000++] a green salad, some tempura of vegetable, white fish, salmon, lobster, sirloin steak and fried rice. The first courses are presented to you whilst the chef commences to prepare the following courses on the teppan.
Each course is meticulously prepared in it's own fashion. The lobster has sake or wine poured over it and is then covered by a steaming dome for a few minutes to force the flavours right through the flesh before being opened up and finished off. The steak has that soy/saki mix that is referred to as Teppanyaki Sauce in the west.
Once again rice is taken at the end of the meal. Fried rice from the teppan comes in it's most perfect form. The previously cooked cold rice is tossed on the top of the teppan along with all the other ingredients, creating a soft fluffy mixture, never heavy or greasy! Here a small portion is prepared at first, then an egg is broken on the teppan to form a thin disc of egg. The portion of rice is placed within, and all is rolled up to form a small rice-stuffed omelette, sliced and served along with the balance of the fried rice.
Everything has been done with the ritualistic patience of the Japanese.
A large variety of Sushi and Sashimi are also available for a bigger variation in your meal, as are many other traditional Japanese dishes such as Sukyiaki.
All in all, a very relaxing way to spend an hour or two. I even have to admit that it is just that little bit classier than the old FJ's. But then I guess FJ's was different to all else!