In Japanese, teppan means an iron plate or a steel sheet, and yaki, stir-fried food or stir-frying and Teppanyaki is stir-fried meat and vegetables cooked and eaten off a large, table-top grill.
This type of cooking probably started almost 200 years ago when these meals were traditionally prepared on a small grill by families. The popularity spread in the restaurants and the customers started selecting whatever fresh ingredients were available on that day and ordered the chef to cook those ingredients in front of them. There wasn’t any flair, just good cooking. Now Teppanyaki has developed into a refined art where the skill of using a knife, fork and two metal spatulas effectively, to prepare a world-class delicacy is perhaps more important. And this mouth-watering form of cuisine continues to increase in popularity as adaptations are made to suit local taste preferences.

Customers sit at a large table with a griddle in its centre; teppans are usually made of stainless steel and can be of varying shapes and sizes. A large teppan, including the surrounding counter from which diners eat, can seat as many as 20 people to sit comfortably while watching the chef prepare their meal on the grill in front of them . It usually starts with a very tasty serving of soup and salad. As the griddle heats up, one has the choice to pick; chicken, thin-cut lamb, salmon, shrimp, scallops or prawns and vegetables.
Within minutes the grill top heats up and the vegetables are seared the moment those hit the surface. It is indeed a smoky affair but the aroma itself arouses the taste-buds. The chef, clanging his tools, the knife, fork and two metal spatulas creates some sort music and there is a spectacular display of how the food is cut, stirred, seasoned and divided into each diner's portion onto plates on the teppan and served piping hot with a choice of sauces. Light seasoning and fresh ingredients are the keys to teppanyaki's success. This is especially important because teppanyaki-style cooking enhances the original flavor of its ingredients. Seasonings are usually limited to soy sauce, wine, vinegar, salt and pepper. Garlic is usually used when preparing meats.
Teppanyaki has to be eaten at one’s own pace; the chef would work on one course at a time; therefore there isn’t anything to hurry about. Watching the chef almost juggling his cooking tools over the shining teppan is also a part of the meal.
While veteran teppanyaki diners drink, eat and converse while the food is being cooked, first-timers usually spend the time admiring the chef's expertise and enjoy the performance to the fullest extent.