Located in a quieter corner of Oita City’s lively Miyako-machi nightlife district is Nanbantei, a locally cherished teppanyaki restaurant. This unpretentious establishment with its classic period decor evokes mid-20th Century Japan when grilling steaks on a flat iron plate in front of diners was first popularised.

Nanbantei is a family-run establishment where the emphasis is squarely on the quality of the meat, which is always prized Bungo-gyu, Oita’s wagyu beef. The entertaining flamboyant performance of chefs, with which teppanyaki has become synonymous, are nowhere to be seen here. Instead, each meal is a serenely fluid process from beginning to end.

First, the chef presents the finely marbled wagyu for the diners inspection along with details on its pedigree and breeder. A slice of bread, toasted with the Japanese characters for Nanbantei, serves as a dish for the small cubes of beef that are gently grilled to creamy perfection. Crisply grilled slices of garlic, a side salad, wine or beer complete this simple but luxurious meal.

Nanban is a 500 year-old Japanese term for foreigners. Although the word is little used today it is redolent of the European missionaries and traders who legend has it were the first to prepare cattle for consumption in Japan. Through its name Nanbantei pays homage to this history and, through its ambiance, the earliest days of the teppanyaki culinary tradition.

Nanbantei, 2 Chome-4-25 Miyakomachi, Oita, Japan

At a glance

An iconic teppanyaki restaurant specialising in Bungo-gyu, Oita's prized wagyu beef.

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