New restaurants are popping up like mushrooms in Vientiane. One of the anticipated arrivals is the Thai restaurant chain, MK, whose banners currently flutter around the city. It's to open in a newly built compound on the corner of Lao Thai and Thadaeu, alongside other Asian restaurants and a supermarket.
Two restaurants have already opened there recently, one of which is the Japanese teppanyaki eatery, Miyazaki.
Teppanyaki is the Japanese style of cooking fresh, simple ingredients on a hot iron plate. Typically, that's meat, seafood, vegetables, egg and noodles. Teppanyaki seasoning is minimal, just oil, salt, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar and sometimes sake.
Everything is new and shiny upstairs in Miyazaki, while downstairs, the rest of the compound is unfinished. No matter, we're here for the food, not the ambience. Miyazaki is sleek, spotless, sports prompt and efficient service, and even has those little hooks under the counter to hang your bag. Their music, however, leaves something to be desired. Last Christmas I gave you my heart is the song de jour. On xylophone. On repeat.
Miyazaki shares the upstairs with another restaurant, and their part is relatively small. Two cooking stations are each manned (or 'womanned') by 2 or 3 chefs in pristine white shirts, black and white aprons and white chef hats. It makes everyone seem very tall. A black marble counter curves around part of each station and customers sit on stools watching the chefs. There are no more than 20 seats in total.
I love the seeing my dinner cooked by professional chefs right in front of me. It's a model that should be adopted in far more restaurants. Especially given the trend these days for celebrity chefs and cooking shows: entertain your customer by simply doing your job, it's a no-brainer.
When we order, the meat and freshly cut vegetables arrive at the cooking stations promptly. The chef scoops them onto the spotless, sizzling grill, and then, before you know it, presents the food on glazed clay plates.
For a timely meal, Miyazaki wins hands down. And it's so tasty. At every mouthful, we pause to say "This is so good!"
In particular, I love the thinly sliced New Zealand sirloin steak, the grilled chicken, and the mushroom plate. I didn't find the prawns again, for though larger than the usual frozen variety sold here, they weren't particularly flavoursome. They do have salmon on the menu and that, I think, could be very good.
We also ordered a bowl of fried rice. It was light and fluffy and the combination of oil and fresh shallots made it sing. It was so good we were scraping the bottom, which isn't that easy with chopsticks.
There are a few dessert options like green tea ice cream but we didn't try them as all that protein was very filling. Miyazaki is definitely catered to the quick business lunch. It's not a spot for lingering over your teppanyaki. Besides, the food is so tasty you'll be gobbling it down.
Must try: The fried rice. It is absolutely delicious. And the sirloin steak. And the mushroom soup.
Tip: Skip the water and go for a cup of hot or cold green tea. They're very efficient with the refills. I think I had about 15 cups.
Miyazaki is in the MK compound on the corner of Lao Thai and Thadaeu. It is in the white building facing the gates, and the entrance is on the left, up the stairs. There is no elevator that I could see.