While on Saipan last week I was invited to join my friend Wellington (Well) to dine at the newly-opened Japanese restaurant Mai Teppanyaki. I was very impressed by the complete remodel from its previous version, especially the new entrance way that features a koi pond.
The distinct signage on the outside building wall sets up the expectation that you are about to experience an authentic Japanese dinner. There are two large teppan arenas.
The menu is quite extensive and features a number of set dinner menus (Steak & Seafood Combination - $30; angus beef tenderloin or rib-eye - $65; live lobster & foie gras - $90; wagyu beef. foie gras, & live lobster - $150).
We decided to order from the a la carte selections and I had the Tako Wasabi ($6, octopus with wasabi paste), while Well had Today’s Small Appetizer, which was cold tofu. I really like my octopus, which was prepared sashimi style. The wasabi seemed to cure the rawness of the octopus.
From the side dinner menu I ordered the Wagyu Beef Sirloin ($35, 150g) as well as the Seafood Trio ($18), which had 3 pieces of prawns, 3 plump scallops, and 1 piece of Salmon. Well had the chicken breast ($16, 160g).
Our teppan chef, Joven, deftly started on grilling our seafood and vegetables. Everything was fresh with natural flavor that we enhanced with our ponzu, ginger and mustard sauces. These teppan chefs are natural showmen, and they like to flare with their pepper mill and their forks, truly delighting and entertaining their guests, who have their cameras out and ready for that classic photo op.
The one that draws the collective sigh is the flame flare up - a certain crowd-pleaser. When the chicken and the steak (mine was served a perfect medium rare) was finished grilling, Chef Joven placed the meat cubes atop a slice of Japanese pullman bread (“shoku pan”), which I found interesting.
I was also thrilled to finally get a bib to wear, and this one has Mai’s logo on it! They should sell these as souvenirs; I’d even wear it to other restaurants. This is a very considerate gesture, especially considering how food scraps always find a way to land on my shirts.
From the side order menu, we ordered the garlic rice with egg ($5), the assorted pickles (“oshinko”, $3), and miso soup ($2). Fiesta’s Original Garlic Rice has been a favorite for years and it was a wise decision to keep it.
Mai Teppanyaki has a modest selection of fine wines as well as Imported and domestic beers. The new ambiance is modern with an eye-pleasing color scheme. While there, we watched the entire staff sing a birthday song to two guests who were celebrating – it was awesome, especially since one of the chefs was playing the guitar.
I am looking forward to a return visit to Mai Teppanyaki when I will order the live lobster, which performs its final dance on a hot steel griddle Try Mail Teppanyaki for authentic Japanese with Saipan’s renowned hospitality (reservations recommended)!
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