by Mumbai Boss
8 October 2012
Kofuku, Kenilworth Shopping Arcade, second floor (same building as KFC and Bonobo),
Linking Road, Bandra West.
Open daily from noon to 3pm and from 6.30pm to midnight
A meal for two costs approximately Rs 2,000.
Each time a customer enters Kofuku, the week-old Japanese restaurant that has replaced Firangi Paani in Bandra, the staff pauses mid-service to yell “Irasshaimase” (“Welcome”) in unison.
Guests are swiftly seated on plush leather seats, thankfully the only remains from the loud and inelegant bar that was Firangi Paani. They are then handed two menus, one that covers an impressive variety of sushi and sashimi, and another that lists soups, appetisers and mains. When we went by this weekend, it took us a few minutes to get used to the combined din of the hissing teppanyaki grill and the animated customers, the majority of which were Japanese businessmen and families merrily clinking their glasses of beer and sake to a chorus of “Kanpai” (“Cheers”).
There were few vacant tables at the brightly-lit 8o-cover restaurant that’s been decorated like a donburi (rice bowl dish) shop, with wood panels, tatami mats, paper lanterns, ornate wall hangings and flags bearing Japanese Kanji. If you take up a seat at the wood bar, you face a show station where the sashimi and sushi are gracefully assembled. The extensive sushi menu includes nigiri, maki rolls, and temaki, and we suggest getting the mixed platters for your first visit. The non-vegetarian sushi sampler (priced at Rs 1,500 for 18 pieces) had a commendable assortment of tuna, salmon, octopus and Hamachi nigiri. The proof of their freshness was in the blushing hues of the tuna and salmon delicately balanced on the oblong clumps of rice. Mounds of pickled ginger and wasabi paste were placed on one side of the platter, and a bottle of salty Kikkoman Soy Sauce was provided as the dipping sauce for the meal. The eight cylindrical pieces of maki, however, enclosed slightly funky tasting pieces of mackerel. The sushi menu gives equal consideration to vegetarians, who can tuck into the excellent cream cheese rolls studded with crunchy pieces of avocado, cucumber, and asparagus.
The hot dishes range from nabe (hot pot) and steaks to donburi and (soba or udon) noodle preparations. A worthy intermediate dish between the sushi and the filling donburi is the tempura soba made up of slippery buckwheat noodles coiled in a light, clear broth tinged with soya sauce. Speckled green with scallions, the broth had an earthy taste courtesy of the buckwheat. The vegetable tempura was oddly dunked in the broth, which turned the batter into a soggy, and unappetising mess. The largely portioned and steaming donburi, which came with fried nuggets of pork, slivers of shiitake, and a nearly cooked egg rather than a raw one, was deeply satisfying, but also mobility impairing. It’s just as well then that Kofuku does not serve dessert.
Kofuku means “happiness”, and based on our first meal, we think the restaurant’s owner Rinchen Angchuk, who hails from Ladakh, has chosen an apt name. Angchuk’s primary business is importing Japanese ingredients such as sea weed, tempura flour, rice and pickles to India, and we recommend plotting several trips to his restaurant in order to get properly acquainted with the vast menu drafted by the chef of the shuttered Colaba restaurant Tetsuma. The bustling, friendly, and unpretentious establishment scores over other casual-dining sushi restaurants such as Khar’s Sushi Cafe, where the fare is passable, and Warden Road’s Sushi and More, where the variety is limited, with the impressive selection. The biggest draw is the reasonable pricing (between Rs 180 for a plate of egg nigiri and Rs 550 for tuna or Hamachi nigiri). This is a rarity in Mumbai where quality sushi, generally served in five-star hotel restaurants, is inevitably budget busting.
This piece by Purva Mehra was originally published on Mumbai Boss.