Rolling with it
Waiting outside Nooresha Kably's izakaya-style diner persists seven months after it reopened. This is proof of what impeccable taste and consistency can accomplish without the frills of a fine-dine
On a Monday evening, the maître d's outside Linking Road's Izumi — chef Nooresha Kably's passion project that moved out of a cheek-by-jowl space behind Carter Road in May — look perplexed. But that is natural. It's 10.15 pm and guests without reservations are still trickling in. Two parties have already left after waiting for 15 minutes; two others (us included) wait with foot-tapping restlessness. It takes a total of 50 minutes to get a table for two, 10 minutes before the last order. "We will take your orders since you have waited," one of the maître d's reassures.
Pork tsukemein ramen
It can be a little too much; the ceremony around getting a table at Izumi each time; something we had to grapple with even when we visited the then newly reopened diner back in May. But the build-up, oddly enough, alludes to a certain quality. After all, nothing good comes easy in life.
Chicken katsu curry
With just an hour left in hand, we waste no time and call for a Philly smoked salmon sushi (Rs 660) and pork gyoza (Rs 370 for three), and a smokey G&T and wasabi whisky sour (Rs 600 for each) for drinks. They all arrive in quick succession, beginning with the cocktails, of which, we love the tangy twist on the whisky sour that tastes better than a regular one because of the complexity of flavours thanks to the wasabi. The G&T, on the other hand, is a more refreshing tipple, where the addition of orange juice to tonic water creates a flavour profile that is slightly reminiscent of sugarcane juice. We're excited about the gyoza, because we haven't tried Kably's version before, having always veered towards sashimi or yet another roll of sushi — she does a great job with the prawn tempura roll, while the Philly smoked salmon, bursting with umami goodness and boasting a delightful crunch from the peppers, comes a close second. The gyozas though are not the best, mainly because the gari (ginger) is overpowering.
But the slightly off-putting — if not straight-out unappetising — taste of the dish is soon replaced by the comforting pork tsukemein ramen (Rs 750). The term tsukemein is used for ramens, where the noodles, other condiments and the broth are served in separate bowls. The version here comes just that way, making it easier to split the portion between two people, and it's as delicious as we remember it to be from seven months ago. The earthy broth, soft, possibly imported eggs and supple noodles are a winning combination along with the tender pieces of meat. The chicken katsu curry (Rs 550), too, is a bowlful of perfection, though we are perhaps a little biased towards the version at Worli diner Happy Thai that — apart from panko-crusted chicken, rice and gravy — also has diced veggies, including potato. This addition was introduced by William S Clark of the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) in the late 1870s because Japan was facing a rice shortage at the time.
But that's enough of trivia.
All you really need to know is this — you may have to wait longer than you like for a table at Izumi and the prices are high, but if your only question is, is it worth it, our answer is, yes.
At Izumi, Linking Road, Bandra West.
Time 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm; 7 pm to 11 pm
The Guide first reviewed Izumi in May 2019. We conduct select, anonymous follow-ups to assess maintenance of standards
Izumi didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
Food review rating: 4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE
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