This new Japanese restaurant in Chennai serves up cold ramen and flaming hot sashimi!
Those who were regulars at the fairly young resto-bar in Nungambakkam, the Thirsty Crow, are in for a surprise. The steam-punk interiors are now smothered under clouds of pink cherry blossom, oriental wall art and dining cubicles are separated by quaint wooden reapers — as the space transforms into the city’s latest Japanese restaurant, Kabuki. Owned by Nikhil Nath and Paul Raymond, this 65-seater now caters to ‘a discerning foodie community that enjoys authentic food’. Nikhil tells us, “We found that there was a niche area that was missing, with Japanese speciality foods like Aburi (Flaming Sashimi), Nabe Mono (Japanese hot pot including Shabu shabu) and Oshi Zushi (compressed Sushi). These not only add a little drama but are great shared meals for a family or group of friends.” And aptly enough, the name ‘Kabuki’ denotes an ancient form of Japanese dance theatre.
With speciality chef, Yasuyuki Tsuruyama from Akita, heading the kitchen, we were soon presented with the curtain raiser — vibrant orangish-pink hued salmon chunks that looked almost too pretty to eat. But eat them we did! Dipped in soya and a fiery wasabi paste, the delicious sashimi was a sure-fire indicator for the appetising meal ahead. The thin slices of Gyu Tataki salad (beef slices) kept up with the delightful flavour-charged predecessor. From the bar, we sipped on a soju-based mango martini from a sugar-rimmed glass to begin with. Of Korean origin, soju is a close cousin to sake and works best as a neat shot; that we discover a bunch of cocktails later. Meanwhile, we were dunking artfully lined up cubes of spicy tuna rolls, in our bowl of sauce. The sushi had a bit of a crunch and a spot of heat, and was delectable. The Prawn Tempura roll will definitely see us coming back for more.
The clumsy heap of seafood kakiage turns out to be a delicious tangle of batter-fried prawns, calamari and veggies. The raw mango soju cocktail has an aam panna twist and as we mull over that, enter the main act — the Nabe Mono – the Japanese hot pot. With the stove on our table — we have trays of fresh crunchy veggies and plates of pork meat and beef (shabu shabu) — even as the flavourful broth in the wok bubbles in anticipation. We toss in juicy strips of meat and vegetables and in no time scoop out the cooked soup into our individual bowls. This is the part where you can only hear satisfied slurping, and conversation ceases. Though not for long — as we welcomed the torching of the Flaming Sashimi with raucous protests for an encore — to get it right for Instagram — before it vanished down our gullets!
Meal for two INR 2,000.