I'm sorry to say that the review that you are about to read may be extremely unpleasant. If you wish to read a review about a happier teppanyaki experience, then I'd be glad to advise so further on. However, if you like reviews that feature fire, butter, long waits at the bar and the truth and nothing but the truth - then read on. As much as I'm no Lemony Snicket, there was still a sombre mood in the air as five disappointed housemates trickled out onto the streets of Northbridge on a cold and windy Monday night.
Pre-Dinner Drinks at the Midori Bar
The other cocktails (not pictured) that we sampled included the Hendricks Tonic ($16), After Eight ($18) and Japanese Slipper ($15). Unfortunately, we weren't seated until 7:45PM, which is a little poor considering our reservation was at 7. I did take into consideration the fact that I had arrived later and separately to the rest, but a 25 minute wait for a reserved table is still unacceptable.
I have a sincere aversion to being late, especially when a would be exciting dinner was taking place within the hour. Urbanspoon has enticed us again with 50% off at the new "Spring Chicken of Lake Street", Midori Teppanyaki and Bar. With a reservation set for 7:00PM and my regrettable lateness in tow, I had arrived at Midori at 7:20PM to see my housemates all lined up in a row with lightsaber green like concoctions in front of them. I passed my apologies around and decided on a Midori Mojito - how can one not have a Midori based cocktail at Midori? I flicked through the extensive drinks menu and placed my order - the service so far was extremely friendly and attentive.
Unfortunately, the five of us all experienced some level of dissatisfaction with our cocktails. We exchanged glasses and all concluded that they didn't have the refinement a good cocktail needed. The components felt "thrown together" rather than being paired according to what flavours and garnishes would have complimented each other. The Zen Cocktail was the most palatable, largely due to the sake base being topped up with a sweet bottled aloe vera juice. The downside however, was how the aloe vera had washed out any remnants of the Sake and the Green Tea Liquor causing the drink to taste like a very expensive mocktail.
SALAD AND POPCORN SHRIMP
After our table by the teppanyaki table was ready, the waitress promptly came around to take our orders and check which extras we would like to include in our sets. Amongst the five of us, the three girls and I ordered the Samurai Set and our only resident "King" appropriately ordered the "Way of Kings" Midori Set.
The start to our meal was a little shaky; for what I perceived to be a fine dining restaurant, I was surprised that paper serviettes were being placed over our laps and no table water had been offered nor provided throughout the entire meal. We shared our teppanyaki table with five other patrons, which was not a problem at all.
Thankfully, the first course came out promptly but after having a poke around the bowl, I was quite disappointed. There were no "mix of leafy greens", "tomato" or "cucumber" in sight - but instead, a mound of iceburg lettuce, some shaved onions and shredded carrots. The dressing was tasty, but I was a little surprised at in the execution of this course. I understand that sometimes sourcing ingredients doesn't always work out at the last minute, but it would have been appreciated if the chef or one of the waitresses could have been accountable and informed us of the changes.
The Popcorn Shrimp is actually listed fourth on the Samuri Set, so we were very surprised to see it appear before us already. The wasabi soy sauce was a standout amongst the starter sauces but the serving of popcorn shrimp wasn't the best example of showcasing generosity or quality. Some of the salad leaves on my plate were wilted or torn and it definitely didn't leave a good impression, presentation wise. The creamy, spicy mayo was quite tasty but the popcorn shrimp itself was rather soggy and missing that moreish crunch that makes "popcorn anything" so delicious.
SALMON ABURI AND TATAKI
Whilst the waitresses were stocking the teppanyaki grill, the rest of the starter dishes came out. This course and the previous course, as well as the Midori Set's alternative Pork Belly and Sashimi course all occurred before our Teppanyaki chef had appeared.
The Salmon Aburi was probably the highlight of the starter courses. Having said that, it was nigiri that was not quite nigiri, as the flavours of the sushi rice itself were not well balanced and were shaped a little smaller than a traditional nigiri would be. However, the torched salmon and the accompanying sauces were sweet and very tasty.
One of my housemates actually asked me in the later on courses whether we had even been served a Tataki course. In truth, it's another example of how there was a lack of generosity behind a few of the courses at Midori. The accompanying sauce was a little tart and the two meagre slices of beef had made little impact on those of us who were dining as Samurais tonight.
SASHIMI AND PORK BELLY (MIDORI SET)
When I looked over at the Midori Set entrees, I was quietly relieved that I didn't opt for that option too. The sashimi was very thinly sliced and rather negligible. It was definitely not at the quality nor the grade that you would expect from a fine dining restaurant that charged $120 per head.
Yet another "caramel miso pork belly dish". The three small slices were again, not what we had expected, but the carmel miso sauce itself was quite pleasant. However, my palette was left searching for the promised onion salsa component and willing the pork belly to have a crisper texture.
Garlic Rice, Steamed Rice and Miso Soup
After the series of starters, our Teppanyaki Chef John took to the "stage", introduced himself and began to season and prepare the Teppanyaki Grill before us. Despite being listed just before the dessert course, Chef John immediately began preparing the components for the Garlic Rice.
Garlic Rice can be added to each set at $10 per head - considering that Garlic Rice consists of Rice, Butter, Garlic, Egg and Soy Sauce...I was extremely perplexed as to why it constituted an extra $10 surcharge on top of what was already a pricey banquet.
Inclusive of the Garlic Rice, diners are treated to "extra entertainment". However, if I were to compare it to my previous Teppanyaki experiences in Australia and Japan, the extra $10 was really not worth our while.
The extra entertainment includes your Teppanyaki chef slicing bite sized portions of egg and flipping it into each brave volunteer's mouth. I did have a try and I unfortunately missed. Chef John then asked us at what speed would we like to see the egg being sliced, before proceeding to rapidly chop our egg. The way I saw it was, even if only one member of our dining party order Garlic Rice, we would all get to experience the same amount of entertainment without having to fork out the extra surcharge each.
Three of us ordered the Garlic Rice, whilst my other two housemates stuck with the included Steamed Rice. When we compared portions, it was almost like a slap in the face to those who ordered Steamed Rice instead of Garlic Rice. The theme of minimal generosity nor quality appeared again, as the Steamed Rice bowl was barely two spoons full. Not only was the Garlic Rice's extra entertainment not worth the extra surcharge, but the Garlic Rice itself was underwhelming, being extremely oil and under seasoned.
Scallops, Prawns or Salmon.
The Samuri Set included a Teppanyaki grilled Salmon, as well as either a choice of Prawns or Scallops. Whilst the Midori Set included a choice of Prawns, Scallops or Salmon.
I was extremely excited when I watched Chef John begin to pile on the Scallops; they looked extremely fresh and plump. Although I had chosen the prawns for this course, one of my housemates was generous enough to share one with me; each serving included a good 5-6 scallops per person. I was disappointed by how the scallops lacked salt and despite a lot of butter being used in the cooking process, it tasted rather flavourless. The scallop was also undercooked to the point where my teeth marks remained on the inner flesh of the scallop post the first bite!
The prawns fared far superior to that of the scallops - they were cooked through and the seafood sauce that Chef John had recommended to us at the beginning of our teppanyaki banquet was very delicious. I also appreciated how Chef John had appropriately prepared the prawn heads for those of us who enjoyed them. However, before the cooking began, my housemates noticed that the prawns were in their final stages of defrosting, with noticeable remnants of ice around the prawn shells. Again, the quality that we were expecting from Midori didn't deliver, the prawns weren't fresh and it was very apparent upon tasting. A $85-$120 per head banquet should warrant fresh prawns and we were very disappointed.
By the time the Salmon fillet was served up, we all agreed that the only flavour profiles Midori had offered so far was butter and garlic, with a severe lack of seasoning. Again, props to Chef John for cooking the salmon perfectly, but it was missing that hit of salt or a douse of teriyaki sauce that would have made this course much more enjoyable.
LOBSTER (MIDORI SET)
When the Samurais enjoyed the Salmon course, Chef John began to prepare the lobsters for the Midori set diners with each customer having half a lobster each.
The lobster course definitely looked so much more generous when compared to the rest of the courses we experienced at Midori. The half shell was filled to the brim with juicy lobster pieces, but again lacked seasoning beyond the butter and garlic. Much like the prawns and scallops, the lobster definitely wasn't as fresh as we expected nor paid for.
Prime Beef or Chicken
The beef course is always the most exciting part to any Teppanyaki for me - I love a well cooked Teppanyaki steak, especially when there's premium Wagyu involved. This time around however, we all decided to stick with the standard prime beef offering.
With the amount of "shaker throwing" that Chef John had done throughout our banquet, I would have thought that everything would have been seasoned to perfection. But it seemed all for show, as even the prime beef course tasted rather oily and bland and didn't exhibit any charred characteristics despite being flamed previously. The garlic would have been beautiful with the beef had it been fried until crisp. It was such a shame that the flavours didn't match up to how well the beef was cooked.
There was only one person that ordered Teriyaki Chicken amongst the 10 of us sharing the Teppanyaki table and I was definitely glad that my housemate did. Of all the teppanyaki courses, the Teriyaki Chicken was the standout. It was cooked perfectly with crispy skin, that almost shattered upon biting into the moist, flavourful chicken meat. This was the only course that wasn't under seasoned, largely due to the delicious teriyaki sauce. It's a rarity for me, but in this case I would have gladly chosen a chicken course over the beef.
I also would have preferred if each component of the teppanyaki was served on individual plates - by the final course things had gotten rather messy, especially with a build up of prawn tails and morsels from previous courses that we had not yet gotten to.
I hold the food that I experience to a very high standard, especially when it comes to fine dining. In comparison, my housemates are more likely to be more lenient and accepting when tasting food. However, the vegetable course ended up infuriating everybody because a bundle of bean sprouts with a few sprigs of carrots thrown in was definitely not what we were expecting to pay as much as we did for. There are a beautiful selection of Spring vegetables that crop up in September, and Midori could have gone with anything from Asparagus, to Mushrooms or a variety of other Asian Greens. It was truly the icing on our cake of disappointments for the night and really made us feel like we were being severely ripped off.
After the disappointing vegetable course, we were ushered off to a separate table for dessert. I've read a few mixed opinions about this, with some customers finding the move "rude" or "unnecessary". However, we appreciated the sea change away from the warm teppanyaki grill and settled in around an ala carte table by the bar. I appreciated the move for dessert, but I do wonder whether they're able to do this without much disruption or confusion when it get busy on weekends.
Admittedly, at this point I started feeling pretty irritated. I felt like my Samurai set had definitely not been worth my while and I would have gladly paid a little extra to enjoy a true, premium Teppanyaki experience at Fuku again.
We were all hoping that the dessert would save the day, but again we were disappointed. The ping pong ball sized Green Tea ice cream definitely didn't leave the four of us with a good impression.
However, it was the Midori Set's Yuzu Sorbet with Creme Brûlée that stole the show. I honestly loved it; the Yuzu sorbet was perfectly balanced and refreshing, whilst the creme brûlée shattered at the touch and had a tasty, creamy filling. I would have been much happier with the sobret, which ousted the green tea ice cream on both flavour and texture. This dessert definitely made up for some of the weaker aspects that were in the Midori set.
When we received the bill it was confirmed that our Urbanspoon 50% discount was not valid, as they were only offering a 30% off for Teppanyaki. It would have been much appreciated if we were informed of this before we made the reservation in the first place, but this definitely wasn't the biggest problem of the night. In the end, with the discount included, the Samuri Set with Garlic Rice totalled to $66.50 per person and the Midori Set with Steamed Rice totalled to $84 per person not including drinks.
Instead of this being a showcase of superb dining theatre, premium produce and fine Japanese flavours - it ended up exposing Midori's offerings as inferior, meagre and all in all not worthy of it's high prices. Despite the service being consistent and some of the dishes being enjoyable, we couldn't look past the poor quality and the lack of fresh food and how drastically under seasoned everything was. Further more, the placement of the courses were altered and the ingredients changed without much notice.
The vegetable course was definitely the last straw for us and there are definitely much better Japanese and Teppanyaki options out there that will exceed expectations and provide an all round much more satisfying experience.
Monday to Sunday from 12:00PM-3:00PM for Lunch
Sunday to Thursday from 5:30PM-10:00PM
Frday and Saturday from 5.30PM-10.30PM
I understand that Midori just reopened recently and they definitely command attention for taking up on the iconic real estate on Lake Street across from the Northbridge Piazza. We did really look forward to dining at Midori and appreciate how much care the staff and Chef John took during service, but definitely cannot ignore the downfalls that were present through the course of our dinner. I'm not a fan of writing "bad reviews", but I also do not intend to hide the truth of my experience from my readers or future Midori diners who have stumbled across this review. Despite my own experience, I do sincerely wish Midori Teppanyaki and Bar all the best in the new chapter of their restaurant journey.