Savour hard-to-come-by Korean and Japanese fare like mandu, katsu curry, army stew and mochi at The Omakase Kitchen, Bandra's newest takeaway and delivery kitchen
Chicken Korean Army Stew
When we go knocking on their door, the duo behind The Omakase Kitchen is taking its first lot of orders. Jahan Bloch is busy fielding phone calls, while also trying to make the cosy little space look more presentable by stowing away bags filled with supplies and plastic containers. "It's the two of us doing everything, from taking orders to cooking. We didn't expect it to be this crazy on the first day itself," she laughs, as her partner Ronak Nanda peeps out from the kitchen to say hello.
A quick glance at the menu tells us that this is no regular takeaway. It serves Japanese grub, but there's no sushi. Instead, you'll find katsu curry and four types of ramen. There is also a selection of Korean dishes, like mandu (dumplings) and bibimbap, that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the city. With dishes that are both unusual and well-priced, it's no surprise that the phone has been ringing off the hook.
Mini Matcha Mochi
Same, same but different
We place our order and decide to chat with Bloch as we wait. Nanda, who is a Le Cordon Bleu (San Francisco) graduate, stays in the kitchen, where, despite the volume of orders, he efficiently rustles up one dish after another, all with a cool head. The duo has been running a joint pop-up venture, 425 Omakase, since May last year, but it was only in November that they thought of launching a delivery kitchen. "Ronak and I love Japanese and Korean food, but there aren't too many places in Mumbai serving these cuisines. And even if they do, either they're expensive, or serve only sushi. So, we thought, let's start something that does the cuisines differently. Meanwhile, we will continue to host pop-ups on the side," says Bloch, who is a self-taught pastry chef.
Nice stew meet you
We've ordered an appetiser, two mains and two desserts, and most of it (RIPâÂÂMini Matcha Mochi) survives the bumpy drive home. First, we tuck into the Chicken Mandu (Rs 300). These Korean-style dumplings are different from the ones you'd find at Chinese eateries, owing to the use of kimchi in the filling, which gives it a spicy kick.
The Tonkatsu Ramen (Rs 350) comes with a generous helping of juicy and tender pork belly, which is served with ramen noodles (made in-house), veggies, menma (fermented bamboo shoot) and a beautifully poached sous vide egg. The pork broth for the ramen is packed separately, so it travels better. We pour it into the bowl that holds the other ingredients, and we have our comfort dish for the night.
The Chicken Korean Army Stew (Rs 450), meanwhile, comes as a pleasant surprise. A dish we had never heard of until now, it has a fascinating origin. Known in its homeland as Budae-jjigae, it was created using scrounged surplus foods from the US army bases after the Korean War. In an attempt to resemble the original, ours comes with noodles, baked beans, fish cakes, canned Spam chicken (which is recreated in-house) and veggies, all to be doused in an aromatic chicken stew. The flavours of Korean condiments like gochujang and kimchi shine through.
Ronak Nanda and Jahan Bloch
If you haven't tasted it before, Japanese Cheesecake (Rs 250) takes a little getting used to. A few bites in, you start to appreciate its flavour and texture, which lies somewhere between light-as-a-cloud sponge cake and traditional cheesecake.
Although the Mini Matcha Mochi (Rs 200 for three) doesn't make it home intact, it is still glorious. The soft and chewy rice ball encases a filling of gooey, matcha-infused white chocolate. We couldn't have asked for a sweeter ending.
TIME: 6 pm to 10.30 pm (last order at 10 pm) daily
AT: Shop 1, Firdous Manzil, Waroda Road, off Hill Road, Bandra West. DELIVERY AREAS Bandra West.
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