One thing I have learnt in my years living in Leeds is that if you want to go to a restaurant, you have to go soon. Don’t delay – because blink and you’ll miss it. Not all restaurants – even ones you think of as Leeds institutions – are here to stay, so go and try it out before it’s too late. I should know, it’s happened to me a couple of times. I’m still a bit upset that I didn’t get to try Create before it closed (although I know they still operate in other ways). I’ll admit that I was a little surprised when we drove past The Electric Press to see that Casa Mia had closed down, and in its place now stood a teppanyaki restaurant, but in this instance I was more excited than disappointed. The one time we dined at that Casa Mia I found it a little overpriced and whilst we enjoyed our food it wasn’t anything to write home about. So when I was offered the chance to try Teppan260, which now stands in its place, I jumped at the chance.
It was a gloriously sunny day when we dined, and we were lucky enough to grab a table outside, looking onto Millennium Square. This isn’t necessarily the type of cuisine that you would usually associate with al fresco dining, but when the sun is shining it’s definitely an added bonus to be able to sit outside. The interior of the restaurant is sleek and modern; it’s a surprisingly large restaurant and although it was fairly deserted when we arrived it was almost full by the time we left – pretty impressive for a new venture.
The menu is incredibly simple – we skipped the starters and went straight for the main. You pick which dish you’d like – beef, chicken, prawns, vegetables and tofu are all on offer – and then you pick your sauce and the type of rice or noodles you want. Although the menu seems fairly limited, there must be hundreds of different combinations – and I am always happy to see rice noodles on a menu (why are they so few and far between in supermarkets?!). For me, ordering was a bit of a no-brainer – I went for the Gamba prawns, Thai penaeng sauce and vermicelli rice noodles whilst Emma chose the chicken Tonkatsu with rice.
There’s that saying that goes ‘didn’t your mother ever teach you not to play with your food’ but in this case, the playful elements of teppanyaki definitely make the experience! Your food is brought out on a sizzling hot plate with a warning sticker around it and you are invited to stir it around and wait until it’s cooked exactly to your liking. We were a bit concerned that it was raw and would therefore need quite a lot of cooking (especially the chicken) but were reassured that this is just to finish it off to your exact tastes. Pouring over the sauce cools it down ready for eating, at which point you dig in! My prawns were absolute beasts, and absolutely delicious! The sauce was just the right amount of spicy although I think I left it a little too long before I added it, as I’d rather singed my onions! I think there might be an art to this teppanyaki business, which I’ve not quite mastered but it’s definitely one I’d like to have more practice at.
That being said, the stand out moment for me was when I saw Portuguese Egg Tarts on the dessert menu. They seemed a little out of place with the rest of the cuisine, but I’m not complaining because they’re my absolute favourite. These were particularly good ones, light pastry with a sweet custardy centre. If nothing else, I am heeding my own warning and going back for these soon!