- February 8, 2023
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Fine Dining, Food And Drinks, Restaurants
Date: 8th February 2023 | Text by – Monty Sally | Images by – Restaurants mentioned hereBanzai! The sushi and Sashimi dive bomb our palates with umami explosions as our tastebuds surrender to the delicate, balanced flavors of Japan. The land of Sun Sand and Sea is today pleasantly inundated with tantalizing food-fare which originates from the land of the rising sun. To a Japanophile like me this all feels like dreaming of the Sakura blooms in spring. Here’s a list of the top 10 restaurants offering the Japanese experience to its Goan patrons and tourists.
Saké The Asian Lounge
Is it a ramp? When will the show start? who are the models? The bar at Saké does resemble a fashion ramp with its circular imposing lights but the models do arrive and the show does happen but not the way you’d think. Saké gives the feel of a Japanese night club and further adds theatricality to every Food and beverage served. Each siplicious cocktail is dramatic as it lands on the bar counter so here’s introducing the models for the evening “Saké Mahö”, “You give me Butterflies”, “Ume Negroni”, “Un-fig-gettable old fashioned”, “Zakuro Kiss” all this makes me feel “So Matcha better”. You can wind down the highs with scintillating Sushi ranging from the classic to innovations like blue pea flower roll with blue pea infused rice or move to the deconstructed signature sushi ” Sushi on Crack”. Saké is Just “Yabai!” Enjoy!
Makutsu or a den of thieves in Japanese aims to give its clientele a feel of a smokey, sake sipping Japanese night dive “the Izakaya experience” minus the yakuza of course. The visual of this restaurant seems to embrace you with its simplicity as the open kitchen hibachi of this grill house drums out the most varied and succulent cuts of yakitori and lots of scrumptious others. Welcome to your table succulent Chicken oyster, drool-worthy Beef tongue, exquisite Salmon ponzu or let a local ingredient like “tambdi bhaji” woo you in its Japanese avatar called “Red Spinach Gomae”, while you unwind with cooling thirst quenchers like Yuzu lemonade and Melon Sodas.
With wide open doors and tiled roofs Shiori just screams out Yōkoso. This rustic century old dig could entice a samurai warrior to sheathe his katana and trot in for a tipple. The minimalist vibe lulls you into a calming mindscape until the food and drinks arrive screaming out elevated excellence playing both to your culinary sensibilities and visual appetite. Plates with pork char sui, bacon wrapped prawn and asparagus find their way to your table which are delectable. The solutions for a parched throat exist in the form of Gin and T (with hibiscus tea), Japan Meets Siolim (martini starring amla vermouth), choya (Japanese plum liqueur)) but don’t miss out on Dora Dora a Doremon inspired drizzle for your throat. If you ever find yourself in Siolim take a peek at Shiori it will surely grab you.
Dipping down from Porvorim plateau into Sangolda one sees a heritage Indo-Portuguese house painted in confounding crimson. This is Yaki Zushi a restaurant that perhaps single handedly brought Japanese cuisine from its pretentious heights to the masses of Goa with all you can eat and unlimited sushi festivals attracting youth with young healthy appetites and a penchant for discovering cuisines around the globe. Yaki Zushi sheds pretense but not Quality as it whets the appetites of even the most voracious eaters with about 25-30 varieties of Sushi depending on the season. Try the regular classic rolls or what the teppenyaki grill has to offer while you indulge in an oriental Martini.
Happiness welfare well being at the heart of what Kofuku stands for, the open fields of Parra forms the backdrop of this restaurant that aims to serve its guests the true taste of Japan this is backing this goal is the mother companies vast experience in importing Japanese food products and ingredients to cater to the Japanese expats in India. The restaurant with its wood tones seems warm and welcoming and one glance at the menu makes you realise their genuine desire to be authentic rather than innovative. The ministrations of the team at Kofuku is aimed at Perfecting the Japanese experience with culinary experiences like “Oh my God sushi”, a signature flaming sushi of salmon, tuna, yellowtail and avocado drizzled with a special sauce, other offerings like Yaki Goyza, Miso Ramen will hit the sweet spot too. Sip on a Japanese whiskey and let the easy vibe envelop you.
Sakana at first glance seems unassuming with a semi enclosed industrial shed like structure amidst an open garden. But once you settle down and notice the Japanese iconography, Sakura bloom visuals, the expanse of the space, the indoor-outdoor feel you cozy up to order your taste of Japan. Sakana exists only to serve its clientele Japanese food in a Zen like calm atmosphere, the open Kitchen works silently to create delectable bites which are a combination of Japanese street and home fare. The only noises one can hear are the flavorful explosions in your cranium, time for Food bliss with Sushi, Sashimi, Katsu downed with a shot of warm sake.
Who is Roboto? He is a robot who wears his heart on his face and gets comfy in a kimono and represents his namesake restaurant in Anjuna. This Izakaya style restaurant aims to placate your food cravings while also going green with a minimal carbon footprint. The many windows allow plenty of sun in and the light spackled blue walls aim to give food lovers the “komorebi” feel, the feeling of oneness with nature. Roboto does not skimp on its palette pleasuring pursuits with delicacies that are sometimes familiar and sometimes surprising. Tune in to a bento box experience, slurp some udon/Ramen, bite into some Onigiri or Gyoza and wait for the bar to serve you its handcrafted cocktails.
Japanese decor or iconography zilch, Japanese vibe nada; Matcha does not look like much, in fact visually it looks like a local Goan family run fish curry joint. The humor is in the fact that it is a Japanese family run Japanese restaurant and it runs on the principle of “Iburo o tsukamu” literally “to grab someone by their stomach” to simply put it impress with your Cooking. The plating does not distinguish itself in any way in fact it feels like home, the food too probably tastes like home in one of the prefectures in Japan. Start with some authentic sushi then choose a rice bowl or udon and that too in some comfy shorts, T shirt and slippers because to be in Matcha you don’t feel the necessity to dress up. Stretch out comfortably in your chair and while away the Balmy noon sipping a Matcha cooler.
It’s payday you are flush, time to head Izumi at the lush boutique guesthouse Botanique in Assagao Goa and let your culinary craving’s cruise at an ambrosial altitude you are unlikely to ever forget. Indoor outdoor spaces merge in the palm frond shadows of this poolside food Heaven. This restaurant to me seems like a paradox in the sense that the feel and decor of the place is minimal but the menu exact in its execution to the point it plays ostentatious. You can make a beeline to the dedicated fired up yakitori Bar, Order from an expansive list of small plates, chow on some delicate Nigiri or let the bar program beguile you into consuming a tad bit more alcohol than your quota with cocktails starring Shiso leaves, Sakura cordial, miso washed whiskey and Yuzu-Kosho Japanese Lime.
This 200-year-old Indo-Portuguese villa redecorated to house a Japanese restaurant is a Japanophiles wet dream. A 20-foot hand painted sumo sculpture stands near a torii gate reminding guests to eat like a Sumo Wrestler. The outdoor bar is reminiscent of the work of legendary architect Kenji soma and on the other side of the bar is wall like installation of over 200 Sake barrels. I could go on but I’ll leave it up to the reader to discover the multisensory experience of the space. Aim your chopsticks at Japanese influenced small plates, Ramens, Yakitori Sushi rolls and Nigiris, Say Kampai! at the bar that shuns anything artificial or synthetic and works on delicate infusions. The curtain closer would be the visually stunning “Sakura Tree dessert” a candy floss tree with chocolate bark and citrus crumble, Cherry blossom mousse, and Asahi cherry jelly.
These Japanese haunts are my dream team which leave you saying Sugoi!