Who hasn’t been to a neighborhood teppanyaki restaurant where chefs bang their spatulas on hot plates and flip ingredients to entertain? It’s gimmicky, but cute. Kids love it. But there’s another level of teppan far beyond, and one of the practitioners holds court at ROKU, Innovative Dining Group’s flagship concept in West Hollywood.
The restaurant is upscale cool and the ingredients it serves are impeccable—A-5 Japanese Wagyu, Matsuzaka beef and Santa Barbara spot prawns, to name a few. And there you’ll find Michael “Tattoo Mike” Monzon, a North American teppanyaki master. Not so coincidentally, he got his start at one of those neighborhood teppan joints in Seattle, but he worked his way up the ranks to become the head teppan chef at Nobu Lanai at the Four Seasons in Hawaii. That’s the job that led him to ROKU. “Being a teppanyaki chef isn’t just about the food, it’s about the performance,” says Monzon.
His mission is to showcase the skill involved with teppanyaki, while paying respect to Japanese traditions. As for why he’s called Tattoo Mike? We have no idea, but we do know the guy can prepare a razor-sharp meal and put on a show that’s highly entertaining.