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Way beyond Sushi

A journey through flavours of Japan, Kampai boasts of a menu which touches the heart of the global traveller

Kampai, Aerocity

Among the latest entrants to Aerocity, Kampai has a cheerful ambience. The purple and pink interiors make it a perfect setting to spend time with friends, bae or even business associates. Since the restaurant serves Japanese cuisine with Chef Shoji Morita as the head of the kitchen, there is little room left for doubt about the authenticity.

There are two private spaces where you can eat like the Japanese — sans shoes and a little closer to the floor. But we sat in a cubicle, which had sheer purple curtains to give us some privacy.

With recommendations by our young server, we begin the culinary experience with soup and salad. The restaurant has a live kitchen and we could have watched the entire menu being prepared, but we chatted over a couple of mocktails. And then arrives the steamy Tofu No Miso Shiru. This is a Miso soup with tofu, wakame and spring onions. This is a very light soup with enough veggies to make you long for more and leave you happy.

Well, the secret to the Japanese look and their amazing skin is soups and salads, says the chef. He has worked in eight countries including Norway, Greece and Bangladesh. India is his ninth country and he likes it, though he has had little chance to explore Delhi, its street food and culture. “I was working with a Japanese delegation in Ahmedabad,” he smiles. “Like Bangladesh, that too is a non-alcoholic place, but I could cook with sake there. In Bangladesh, you can’t make food with alcohol which was a very difficult thing to do.”

As he doesn’t face these restrictions now, he’s a happy man in his kitchen. Moreover, Aerocity is where all international tourists land, so he is working towards finding more people to befriend and learn from. As the chat continues, we find this huge bamboo bridge with sushi on our table. Sushi isn’t just about cold rice and tuna, it’s also a lot about freshness. We might think that’s this is the only thing that Japan loves, but “Sushi is considered a delicacy and an expensive one. There are dedicated sushi restaurants and people don’t eat it daily”, the Chef enlightens us. He creates a special salmon one with a cheesy and slightly spicy coating for us. It’s not on the menu but worth every bite. You might want to request him for this special one.

The salads, Horenso No Goma-Ae which is spinach with sesame sauce, and Tori No which is mixed greens with chicken and sesame dressing, are fresh and light. The sesame gives them a sweet flavour. But the Japanese do like their share of chilly as well. We discover this in our main course — Tori No Teriyaki which is teppanyaki cooked chicken in teriyaki sauce. We have this with Vegetable Tepenyaki Fried Rice. While most people in Japan like to have their food with beer or sake, we keep a big kettle of Jasmine tea with us for the entire lunch.

The meal ends with the perfect Green Tea Panna Cotta and a slice of cheese cake. The panna cotta is certainly among the best desserts I have tasted with just the right flavours and consistency. Kampai fulfills its promise of being a cheery place with a smiling staff and some great food.

Where: Worldmark 1, Aerocity, New Delhi
Price: Rs 4,000 (without alcohol) for a meal for two