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Shima Teppanyaki!

Who doesn’t love teppanyaki? New boy on the Petitenget block Shima brings all the fun of Japanese flair at affordable prices and great quality, writes Sarah Douglas. Photos: Lucky 8.

Sitting in the softly lit Shima restaurant is a little like waiting for a performance to begin. Teppanyaki is the most theatrical way to dine and our star performer today is a real showman. With the clatter of steel and a whoosh of flames, the show begins and course after course is peppered with fire and tall tales.

Teppanyaki is one of Japan’s most famous exports and is associated with high-ticket ingredients like Kobe beef, lobster and the highest grade of tuna. Your experience is measured by the quality of the ingredients, and the skill of your chef.

Shima in Kerobokan is a stand-alone restaurant that offers both teppanyaki and shabu shabu at a price you can afford. The man behind the grill is a character, as teppanyaki chefs tend to be. Literally front and centre of the experience, it is a job that requires skill, precision and confidence.

The man standing behind our grill is from Nusa Penida, an unlikely origin for a teppan grill chef but Yoga threw the rulebook out when he took the boat across to the big island. His adventurous spirit and infectious lust for life makes him a great candidate for this job. After finishing at tourism school in Bali, Yoga went off to see the world. His career behind the grill began at a Japanese restaurant in Atlanta Georgia and his performance is sliced and diced with American humour and attitude.

That doesn’t take anything away from the food. We opted for a set menu that offered the best of everything for under Rp700,000. From the start Yoga took control of the grill, his instruments and the menu. The meal begins with vegetables, which seems a very sensible way to start. A flavourful mix of western and Asian ingredients and a nicely turned piece of tofu seasoned with teriyaki gets us off to a great start.

The main room offers four different grills and each chef can cater for up to six guests at a time. Another couple seated beside us warm up to the jokes and the grill-side chat. This is quite a social way to dine; great for parties but even strangers will often bond, and the glue that binds us is Yoga.

Our menu begins with seafood. Large, luscious king prawns turn a glistening pink on the sizzling grill. A grind of salt, a sprinkle of pepper and light soy builds the flavour profile on these firm little beauties. The flames die down quickly as Yogi controls his heat and with great precision turns the prawns out on to glistening black plates. The excitement builds along with the heat as the sharp, fast, steel spatulas make short work of shells and heads.

Our next course is lobster and these bigger beauties are perfectly turned out, the flavour of the lobster allowed to speak for itself. Yoga allows guests to add extra salt if they feel it’s needed. His American influences are showing up here as the Japanese tend to a more salty profile. Only once during the entire meal did we reach for the salt and it was during the next course.

This menu offers two different varieties of steak. Each is different in texture and flavour. Firstly a rib eye is cooked to perfection. We all agree that medium rare is the way to enjoy this and it is perfectly seared outside, beautifully pink inside. The added fat of the rib eye is part of the experience, adding a rich chewiness that plays off the salty meat.

Next up is the crowning glory of the experience, wagyu. At this price Kobe beef would be surprising but the Australian beef is a nice compromise. It’s meltingly tender; the seasoning allows the taste of this beautiful steak to shine. The dipping sauces are a nice addition but it’s almost a shame to add anything.

Yoga allows us to enjoy our meal, showing great restraint for a man as gregarious as he is. As the meal winds down and the staff offers us a variety of ice cream to finish, he can’t resist the urge to show off a little, juggling eggs with his spatula.

Shima is relatively new and has taken over a large space in a former nightclub. For those who enjoy teppanyaki, it’s an affordable entry point and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. All the chefs are Indonesian, including another Balinese chef. Each is well travelled, has solid experience and the right balance of showman and skill.

There’s a great wine list to compliment the menus, a small sake menu and both local and imported beers.

As Yoga finishes up, polishing up his grill with salt, he can’t help but squeeze in just a couple more jokes. Shima may be missing the traditional Japanese reverence but it makes up for it in pure joy and great food that will leave you satisfied and happy.