Tempura, a tantalizing assortment of battered and deep-fried ingredients, is already one of Japan’s most world-renowned dishes. What many people outside of Japan don’t realize, however, is that there are a number of regional differences when it comes to this famous dish. The western Kansai region favors vegetable tempura fried in neutral oil and served with salt, while tempura from the Kanto region in the east includes both seafood and vegetables, fried in sesame oil for a golden color and served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce. For most visitors to Japan, it’s this Kanto-style that comes to mind when they think of tempura—large golden battered prawns, crisp tempura vegetables, and a flavorful dipping sauce.
Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine cooked on an iron grill top which originated in Japan following the introduction of modern iron manufacturing. With the spread of teppan cooking plates, dishes such as okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory pancake) became popular in Kansai, the western region of Japan. Later, during the post-war period, a new type of teppanyaki emerged. This new style of teppanyaki cuisine—also known as “hibachi” outside of Japan—is often described as Japanese dinner theater, with a personal chef grilling up meat, seafood, and vegetables in front of dinner guests with dynamic yet graceful culinary flair.