A decade ago, only a few Japanese restaurants could be found in five-star hotels in India, but today, there are many such eateries and sushi bars, particularly in the major cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
The popularity of Japanese cuisine, including sushi, udon, tofu, tempura, and sashimi, is growing in India. In fact, in 2018, the export of Japanese food from Japan to India skyrocketed to a staggering INR 833 million.
Contributing to the rise of authentic Japanese restaurants in India, Kampai, a high-end and authentic Japanese eatery, has recently opened its second location at DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
"The emergence of authentic Japanese restaurants in India has satisfied the cravings of many who yearned for Japan's delicious and distinct taste. It's great to witness the young generation's openness to trying new cuisines while also making Japanese cuisine a go-to for family gatherings with the rice-noodle dishes," said Avantika Sinha Bahl, founder of Kampai.
"On my multiple trips to Japan over the years, my fascination with their rich heritage and culture grew. My love for the exquisite flavours and ingredients from the land of the rising sun and recognition of a demand for the cuisine in our hometown made me pursue the restaurant," she added.
OT recently had the opportunity to experience the exclusively crafted menu of Kampai, which aims to entice Delhi-ites with its authentic Japanese cuisine. The Shiitake Truffle Soup was served first, and it stood out with its rich and earthy truffle flavour that blended perfectly with the tender shiitake mushrooms and fragrant thyme. Next, the Avocado Canapes were brought, a refreshing option with the creamy avocado complementing the spicy sriracha aioli and crispy sushi rice cake. The Edamame and Truffle Oil Dimsum was a must-try for Asian cuisine lovers, with the tender edamame and rich truffle oil-infused dumplings creating a delectable flavour. The Three Mushroom and Cheese Gyoza was a savoury and filling dish that blended perfectly with the creamy cheese.
The Avocado Pizza was served as a unique twist on classic pizza, with the tangy yuzu aioli and sesame seeds complementing the creamy avocado slices. The Crispy Yuzu Kale Roll was a healthy and satisfying option, with the crispy tempura-fried kale balancing perfectly with the creamy cream cheese and tangy yuzu flavours. The Caterpillar Roll, a classic sushi dish that never disappoints, was served next with an avocado, asparagus, cucumber, and cream cheese filling, creating a balanced flavour. Finally, we were treated with the Spicy Sesame Ramen, a hearty and warming option with the rich tahini broth, tender soya chunks, bok choy, and spicy chilli oil, creating a complex and satisfying flavour profile.
When asked what elements set Japanese cuisine apart, Chef James Thangsian Mung said, "Japanese cuisine, known as washoku, is characterised by its use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and focus on balancing flavours. Rice is a staple in Japanese meals, accompanied by various side dishes. Miso soup is a typical side dish made from fermented soybean paste garnished with seaweed, tofu, and green onions. Japanese cuisine features fish, including grilled and raw preparations, and sushi. Additionally, pickled vegetables and vegetables cooked in broth are often served as side dishes."
Mung also emphasised the importance of presentation in Japanese cuisine. He explained that the way the food is presented on the plate plays a crucial role in the overall dining experience and can significantly impact the customer's satisfaction with the meal.
"Careful consideration of plating and presentation can draw attention to the specific ingredients in a dish and highlight their unique flavours and textures. This can help to elevate the overall dining experience and create a more memorable meal for the customer," he added.
Not only this, Kampai is committed to ensuring that the dishes it serves are prepared and served according to traditional Japanese standards. Talking about the same, Bahl, the restaurant's founder, said, "We aim to be synonymous with the Japanese tradition while continuously experimenting and innovating. Kampai was launched under the culinary leadership of a Japanese chef Shoji Morita who trained the entire team of Kampai to create the experience for the patrons. The team has gone above and beyond to ensure an unforgettable experience for the guests, from selectively procuring seafood and authentic ingredients to providing an unconventional decor and offering a high-energy dining experience."
Address DLF Promenade Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi