Aki Bay, a place where I’ve been wanting to go for a long time now. Seen quite a few pictures of the gorgeous Ramen bowls and was quite tempted to try. My wife and I managed to visit today, and it was a very different, pleasant dining experience overall!
This place is located in Velachery, in the street between The Grand Mall and McDonalds. To my surprise, there were a lot of restaurants in that street, and I am yet to visit quite a few of them. The place has a nice Japanese feel to it. We walked in around 14ish, and a couple of tables were occupied by Japanese people, and it felt like really away from Chennai. We were seated immediately and started to take a look the menu. The English translation was a blessing, else, would have had no clue about what to order. They did have chicken variants for most of the dishes, so that was awesome for me. While we were looking at the menu and contemplating whether we should have a Ramen each, Mr. Mani, who I presume, is the Manager of the place offered to help. He suggested that we have one ramen, one fried rice and we were anyway planning for a starter. Finally, ordered a Miso Rich Chilli, Chahan Rice with Chicken Full, Chicken Gyoza 6 pcs.
I’ve read that Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji. This is mixed with soup stock and served as Misoshiru, which forms the base for the ramen. Didn’t see pork and beef on the menu, probably that’s a conscious decision they took to satisfy the majority. The bowl was a large one and had noodles, chicken bits and veggies, all immersed in the miso soup, topped with corn, green onions and half of a boiled egg. It looked very appealing. After clicking a few pics, transferred half of it into another bowl and both of us started to eat. It was a very different flavor, but at the same time, good to eat. I have no prior experience of elaborate dining in Japanese cuisine, so all I hoped for, was a pleasant experience and tasty food, and sure it was ! The Chicken Gyoza came next, and it looked quite close to momo, but the menu said it was baked. It was tasty, with wonderfully soft chicken inside. The accompaniments on the table were soy sauce or chilli oil, and I preferred the latter. It looked like infused oil with lot of chilli stuff at the bottom, had a very different, but good flavor. Finished the gyoza with that. Meanwhile the Chahan Rice with Chicken which is basically Japanese Fried Rice, was served. Looked nice, and I hoped it tasted as good. It was indeed very tasty, and was pretty close to ‘our’ fried rice, except for the very different rice. In fact, I had asked them if it was tuned to suit the Indian pallete, to which they replied in the negative. I should warn you that the portion of Ramen was huge and we were quite stuffed after this. There was only one dessert in the menu and it read as Matcha Pudding. This is a Japanese Green Tea pudding and this got me curious. Ordered one of that, and it was quite small in size, so that was good, easy to finish. The consistency was like the caramel pudding/Vatilappam types, typically like any other pudding and the first spoon of it was a nice flavor of tea. I loved it, and it got even better as we ate. There was a sweet powder on the top, which I couldn’t exactly make out what, but along with the pudding, that was good too.
Finally finished a heavy Japanese meal, and frankly, we didn’t think we’d be able to eat to our full because we weren’t quite sure of what to expect. Had a brief conversation with Mr. Mani when he wanted a feedback on food. We told him we enjoyed the food to which he replied he normally suggests ‘easy’ food for the first-timers, and once they get used to it, other ‘core’ Japanese food could be tried and it made sense. Thanked him for the suggestions. The service was very good, attentive at all times.
They did try to teach me to use the chopsticks, but I wasn’t a very good learner 😛 Used the fork. Chopsticks for the next time 🙂
This lunch set us back by a little more than 1.7K. The place is pricey and a bowl of ramen is quite steeply priced at 500 and above. What we ordered was around 650 bucks for a bowl. 6 pcs of Gyoza was about 440 bucks. But then, personally I do not have any complaints because that’s perhaps the cost you pay for exclusivity. There are very few Japanese restaurants in Chennai and going by what we ate, I would like to believe this certainly is one of the best.