A piece of Japan in our city
Atmospherics: On the ground floor of the spanking new Worldmark 1, Kampai is akin to a trip into an izakaya in Japan, so startling is the resemblance, but then, the young proprietress has been visiting Japan since the age of 7 and has wanted to serve the cuisine of a country that has its own culinary discipline. Fortunately for her, the number of Japanese nationals working in the building and around the area are enough to form a very generous customer base. Add to that the Japanese chef of the restaurant who specializes in sushi and ramen, and the tatami seating in two front rooms of Kampai, and you have a small piece of Japan right in the middle of our city. The good news is that requests to Indianize the food are not taken cognizance of (so far, at least!)
Table talk: Hiyashi ramen salad (Rs 550) was billed as a chef’s special and turned out to be a stunningly presented bowl of crab sticks, vegetables, chicken, nori and salad greens, all chopped into fine matchsticks and placed over cold ramen noodles. A small bowl of sauce was served separately, to pour over the salad. As a first course, it was delicate, beautifully constructed and the sauce, made by the chef, had a high umami content. Miso shiitake (Rs 500) is a great vegetarian choice. The mushrooms, cut into satisfyingly thick slices, were slathered with miso paste and grilled. The miso paste was not as sweet as it often is and the mushrooms were satisfyingly chewy. If you want to linger over a dish while having a conversation, this is the one to order. I lucked out with my choice of sushi roll: kanpyo hoso maki (Rs 550). Kanpyo is bottle gourd, air-dried and simmered in soy to increase its umami component and make its texture chewy. With a hint of smokiness, it was rolled in perfectly cooked rice and wrapped in a nori sheet. A vegetarian gourmet treat, it is unique to Kampai as far as I know. The high point of the meal was shake no tartar (Rs 850) a tian of avocado and salmon in layers, barely held together with ponzu sauce.
Plus and minus: The service is absolutely incredible. Knowledgeable and eager to help without bending over backwards.
Must try: Itame kinoko mushrooms; itame ebi; miso ramen
Food: 4; Service: 4; Decor: 4
G 02, Worldmark 1, Aerocity
Tel: 9319274015, 9319274012
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,300