SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - With a flick of a lighter, the grill lights up. Uttam Thapa has done it before. The flips, the twirls the flames, it’s all part of a culinary experience he’s excited to bring to the Island.
Thapa is the head chef at Ocean View Resort and Golf’s new Red Maple Hibachi Grill restaurant which opened Friday.
“Your table is our kitchen,” he says with a smile before warming up to perform at the grill.
Thapa had been practising as a hibachi chef for seven years in Japan for seven years before coming to P.E.I.
“It’s a very hard culinary skill to enter into. And you can’t really go to school for it.”
After arriving in P.E.I. 18 months ago and taking the job at the restaurant, Thapa built the menu from scratch.
“Hibachi cooking is of Japanese origin. But along with Japanese dishes we also have some Indian dishes, classic Island options and other specialties,” said the Nepal native.
“I’m Nepalese cooking Japanese food in Canada,” he said with a chuckle.
“I’ve really tried to mix the menu with foods from all different regions. I’m really trying to incorporate some fusion dishes to the menu.”
Some menu items from the Red Maple Hibachi Grill include:
Thapa says the dish he’s most excited about is his specialty fried chicken.
“I find when people think about fried chicken they think of something frozen and then is cooked. But mine is completely different. It’s based on Japanese fried chicken and we make a special sauce to go with it.”
He added, “Once people come the first time, they’ll come for a second time.”
Thapa says the menu is comprised of locally sourced foods.
“It’s good for the Island industries, the people eating the food and it’s good for us.”
Dallas Desjardins, vice president of Ocean View Resort and Golf, said the restaurant is an exciting element of a three part-check list he’s been working on.
The first was the revitalization of the golf course, the second, the Hibachi restaurant and the third will to see the completion of the resort being built along the waterfront.
“With the restaurant, Uttam will cook tableside in front of guests and tables of 10 people. Once he has their orders, he will come out, cook their meal and provide them with an entertaining experience.
“Hibachi is a very specialized skill. And our future plan is to have him train people and show them the skills as we continue to grow.”
Desjardin says he’s excited about the showmanship aspect of the restaurant.
“We’ve got a really great menu put together and it’s such a specialized restaurant. We’re hoping that the experience of the cooking and the food will draw locals from all over the Island as well as tourists too. It’s always going to be a really fun night.”
Red Maple Hibachi Grill will operate seven days a week with seating from 5 to 9 p.m.
“We will be seating people 10 at a time on the hour. But if people want to come into the bar for drinks and appetizers, they’re always welcome. We’ve got a great selection.”
For more information on Ocean View Resort and Golf go to peioceanviewresort.ca/.