Bandra gets an izakaya
Carter Road gets a new Jap diner that hopes to decode finer points of the delicate cuisine
It's difficult to find Izumi, a new Japanese diner in the city, amid the meandering lanes of Perry Cross Road. We go about in circles till we finally arrive there. At the helm of this sylvan eatery done up in oak and minimalist Japanese decor is Nooresha Kably, who has taken her East Asian flare and fare out of her home (she is known for her delivery and catering service Sushi Koi) and on to the streets for Mumbai's discerning foodies.
Hamachi truffle ponzu with wasabi jelly
We both fumble with some parts of the Japanese culture. While we are fairly new to the cuisine and its nuances, she is yet to lay siege on the language. "I am terrible at it," she admits. "Irasshaimase" is how she greets us though — an informal way of saying, "Come on in".
Green tea malabi with fruits
It is this laid-back authenticity that she is trying to capture with her snug 350-sqft space, dotted with Monyou-inspired upholstery, maneki-neko figurines and daruma wall hangings. The live sushi counter is welcoming and reassuring. "Sushi rolled behind doors doesn't seem right to me, so a live counter was always a part of the design concept," she shares.
Pork tonkotsu ramen
We are instantly drawn to the hamachi truffle ponzu with wasabi jelly (R700), a part of their Kozara menu. "Kozara is a term used for traditional Japanese small plates, which is popular at izakayas or informal pubs," she tells us. Made with hamachi or Japanese amberjack or yellowtail, the dish is a light and supple serving drizzled with truffle oil and ponzu, a tart, watery, citrus-and-soy based sauce. It is served with a side of zingy wasabi jelly and a garnish of julienned radish and cucumber.
As we glance through the lavish fare, our eyes stop at the katsu chicken with curry and rice (R520). The crunchy panko-fried katsu chicken is served with a flavourful authentic curry made with chicken, carrots and onions blended together and cooked with spices in a chicken stock. The dish is served with a side of sticky rice sprinkled with crackly sesame seeds.
The quaint interiors of the diner. Pics/Atul Kamble
The pork tonkotsu ramen (R650) is a colourful bowl and a hearty mix of kikurage or wood ear mushrooms, nori, half-boiled eggs, ramen and pork fat served in a broth that is slow-cooked for hours with pork bones, which is where it gets the name from. The recipe originates from Fukuoka Prefecture on the Kyushu island of Japan and became popular as a fast food item among labourers of the surrounding fish markets.
Our dessert pick of the day is the green tea malabi with fruits (R220) — an eggless milk pudding that is thickened with cornstarch, flavoured with rose water and sugar, topped with finely chopped peaches and served with a saccharine sweet green-tea based juice. In his book, Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami writes, "It's good when food tastes good, it's kind of like proof you're alive." And feeling alive is how we left Kably's little joint.
Time 12 pm to 4 pm; 7 pm to 10.30 pm
At Sunbeam CHS, Perry Cross Road, Bandra West.
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