Kofuku (Japanese for happiness, fortune, joy) is a new Japanese restaurant in a poorly maintained Bandra shopping arcade that hasn’t done any advertising or PR so far. Yet, on the day after its launch party, the first meal of regular operations, the low hum of conversation in the room was punctuated with cheery chants of ‘arigato gozaimashita’ (Japanese for ‘thank you’). Four large tables were occupied by Japanese men and women, all sipping on Asahi and deftly moving pieces of sushi, braised pork belly and grilled glossy shiitake mushrooms from plate to mouth.
The manager said they were employees of the consulate and of Japanese company headquarters in Mumbai.
The management has made effective changes to the dingy and garish room that previously housed Firangi Paani here. The endoskeleton of the restaurant remains, the colours, lighting and tapestry are different — cleaner, more elegant and spare.
Along one wall are tables with Japanese-style floor seating, the private dining room is charming, and paper lanterns hang over the sushi bar. Kofuku has already managed its most important endorsement — Japanese customers — and when we sampled the food, we could see why. Our smiling and efficient server told us that the owner is one of the larger importers of Japanese ingredients in India. The chef comes from the recently shuttered Tetsuma. This combination of good ingredients and skill shines through in each dish.
The pretty cherry blossom roll (avocado, salmon, tuna, roe) was so flavourful that we almost did not want to dip it in the soy. The kakuni or simmered pork belly was gloriously rich, both in flavour and fat.
Okonamiyaki, a savoury and generous pancake, had exquisite textures — plump shrimp, crunchy skin and pillowy insides, topped with gossamer slivers of bonito, sweet soy-based sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. Of the eight things we tried, only the tuna tataki did not delight (the seared slices of fish were oddly bland).
Kofuku is a unique creature, an honest, earnest and well-priced Japanese option in Mumbai. With three vast menus (sushi, bar and main, including some Korean dishes) and all that delicious food, it may well be that reservations will soon become necessary.
Where: Kenilworth Shopping Arcade (same building as Bonobo), Second Floor, off Linking Road, Bandra (W)
When: Noon to 3 pm, 6 pm to midnight
Price Check: Approximately Rs 3,500 for a meal for two with one drink each
Call: 6710 5105 / 1101
Opened on: September 24
The J is a garage operation opposite KC College that is overrun by students, all clamouring for the sort of grub that teenagers love — fries, burgers, rolls, shakes and desserts. But that sounds sedate, because on the menu, dishes are likely to be called ‘Like a J-7’ (a hot dog with fried onions and choice of sauce), or ‘The Hell-D Burger’ (a ‘healthy’ burger on whole-wheat bun).
Appetisers come in two sizes: L (for one person) and XXL (for three). On the wall, a whiteboard highlights dishes and lists sauces (the cheese and chilly garlic are delicious), but not before proclaiming: “You have now entered The J. You are now officially awesome” and “Please be nice to our kitten”. Said kitty adopted the cafe a week after it opened and continues to make half the female customers squeal.
While our Oreo milkshake could have tasted less grainy and synthetic, the Cheesy Chicks in a Sub (cheese- and onion-flavoured chicken sausage in a submarine sandwich) was deeply satisfying, with lettuce, slices of fresh tomato and a lively creamy sauce.
The red velvet cupcake was equal parts icing and cake — a good thing, considering the icing was better than the cake.
And the chilly cheese fries were worth every calorie — fresh and homestyle, served in a cone and drenched in ribbons of cheese and chilly sauces.
The J knows its target market, and from the crowds thronging there just a few weeks in, serves them well.
What: The J
Where: Shop No 3, Ground Floor, Vaswani Mansion, opposite KC College, Churchgate
When: Monday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm
Prices: Approximately Rs 400 for a meal for two (no alcohol served)
Launched on: August 11
In other news...
Gourmet it up
New food portal Gourmet It Up partners with restaurants in Mumbai to design culinary experiences ranging from specially designed menus to mixology classes, tours of kitchens and open bar events. Users must register online to participate in ongoing gourmet events. The four-step procedure involves creating an account on the website, selecting an event from the current line-up, clicking through to sign up, then calling the concierge at the given number to confirm. Launched in August with three partners, the website has recently expanded its reach to a total of 20, ranging from neighbourhood bars such as Bonobo to fine-dining restaurants such as The Table, Koh by Ian Kittichai and Busaba.
What: Gourmet It Up
When: Customers can call the concierge at 96195 51387, Monday to Saturday, 10.30 am to 8 pm.
Prices: Varies depending on the event
Launched on: August 15
Vinoteca’s Sunday brunch
This wine- and tapas-centred restaurant in Worli recently launched a Sunday brunch. On offer are three kinds of deals, allowing customers to choose what they want to eat and drink from a variety of wines, sangrias, cheeses, cold cuts, tapas, pinxtos and desserts.
What: Sunday brunch at Vinoteca
Where: Sunville Banquets, Ground Floor, Annie Besant Road, Worli
Call: 4004 6234
When: Sundays, noon to 4 pm
Prices: Rs 1,200 for the Basic Brunch; Rs 1,800 for The Wet Brunch, Rs 2,400 for the Splash Brunch
Launched On: September 16