Japanese tapas has finally come to Chennai!
Japanese food is pretty popular in Chennai, so much so, the city could be considered one of the best ramen destinations in South India. Over the years, however, the number of Japanese restaurants has only increased and the latest to join the list is Hotel Mercure in Oragadam, Sriperumbudur that has just announced a brand new izakaya and ramen menu.
Izakaya for the uninitiated is the tapas of Japanese cuisine. This isn’t necessarily a new concept in Chennai, but to have a whole menu dedicated to it was an absolutely welcome idea.
Our tasting began with a Miso Shiru or a plain miso soup paired with two salads — a potato and egg salad (that we were surprised was a Japanese regular) and a Buta Shabu salad that was basically thin pork slices with green vegetables in ponzu sauce. We paired it with glasses of chilled white wine and it seemed like the perfect beginning to a meal.
The small plates that followed were paired with beers and cocktails and they have quite an extensive menu to choose from. We particularly loved the Yaki Tori (cubes of chicken and leeks marinated with spices and grilled) and the Ika Fry (deep fried squid rings served with wasabi mayo). The big plates were interesting too but didn’t quite fit the idea of izakaya. Izakaya done, we took a break before we attempted to devour our big bowls of ramen — the highlight of our visit. The Shifudo Ramen (mixed seafood) and the Ebi Tempura Ramen (prawn tempura) stood out, while the Yaki Buta Ramen (braised pork and boiled egg) seemed closest to the idea of ramen we’ve been fed by anime pop culture. The ramen bases of soy or miso sans a pork stock, however, left our palates wanting.
“We have around six Japanese companies in the vicinity and the idea of the menu was to cater to them or to Japanese cuisine aficionados. We’ve also introduced bento boxes that they can order directly from their workplaces for lunch,” explains head chef Indra Maya Rai.
Meal for two at INR 1,500+ approx.