IZUMI

FULL DISCLOSURE before I begin my review. Chef Nooresha of Izumi and I were in school together but I left in the 7th standard and honestly we haven’t been in touch since. When Izumi got on my radar a few years ago, I did not realise that Nooresha was the Chef, nor that it was her baby. Its only been since last year that I put two and two together. Till date, I haven’t spoken with her (she wasn’t at the restaurant when I visited) but hope that changes soon, and I get to do a Chef Talk interview with her (soon!).  

My last restaurant sit-down meal was in March 2020 (feels like forever though). Since restaurants re-opened, like everyone around me, I have had varying degrees of trepidation of stepping into one. Now double vaccinated, and with restaurants reassuring me of safety standards it was time to venture out – but I knew I wanted to visit a restaurant that I was genuinely 100% sure of – in terms of food quality, service and safety. Izumi at Bandra seemed to tick off all the boxes including offering me my favourite cuisine – Asian.

From what I have learned, Izumi first opened its doors as humble 10 seater restaurant but has since moved to its current location that seats (about) 50. Currently with the strict rules in Bombay, the restaurant was full to the 50% capacity allowed (which says a lot about its popularity even in the present times).

As you walk in, the restaurant has a wonderful airy vibe with Japanese influences dotting the interiors. What I loved is how the old trees weren’t uprooted while designing the front of the restaurant and whose trunks share décor space with Japanese lanterns harmoniously. Of course they have a live sushi station which you can spot as soon as you walk in and a full bar for those who want to enjoy their sake (and Japanese whisky).

We did order quite a bit, some on recommendations of our server and some which I wanted to try. Side note – some dishes offer Jain and vegan options  

Starters

Prawn Gyoza – we had the steamed version and ordered the 3 piece set (there is an option of 5). These Japanese dumplings filled with prawns came with a soya, coriander and chilli (?) dipping sauce and I did not wait to be told to have the extra one at the table.

Chicken Karaage with aioli – Now this has been a dish I try to order (if it’s on the menu) every chance I get. Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique in which meats are deep fried in oil – in this case it was chicken. The flavour in the karaage is usually got from the taste of the marinade and the dipping sauce was aioli which I am not a fan of. So dipped my karaage in the left over sauce from the Gyoza and thoroughly enjoyed the crunchiness as you bite  into the karaage followed by the tender chicken texture that came as you chewed.

Crispy Edamame Avocado Roll – came panko fried edamame, avocado, caramelised onions, roquette, chives and citrus ponzu. I loved the mix of textures, the soft avocado off set beautifully with the crunch of the edamame.

Mains

Spicy chicken with sticky rice: I ordered this, as I wanted to have a taste of a spicy kick. I got a side of red chopped chillies  just in case I wanted to up the spice level. Thankfully the chicken curry was just right for my palate and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. The crispy lotus leaves on the side were supremely good.

Katsu Chicken with Curry: This was beautifully flavoured and textured. The crunchy panko-fried katsu chicken is served with a flavourful ‘authentic’ curry (I put the word authentic in ‘’ as I haven’t been to Japan so can’t really comment on its ‘authenticity’) and a side of a Japanese-style barbecue dipping sauce.

Dessert

If you have followed me on my blog or on insta, you will definitely ask the question – Why no chocolate! Well, the decision was made for me. Not a single chocolate dessert on the menu, so I had to settle for trying something different – and I am so glad I did.

Black Sesame Ice Cream: Even with the simplest ingredients like black sesame can create magic. I fell in love with my first bite – a beautiful slate grey sprinkled with sesame seeds and caramelized nuts on the side.

Japanese Cheese Cake With Seasonal Fruit; It wasn’t on the menu but quite prominently positioned on their insta page so I inquired if it was available. And yes! It was. Sometimes it pays to do your homework before visiting a restaurant and asking – nothing lost, but everything to gain. It was amazingly fluffy and light and with the fruit added to a spoonful of the cheesecake, it packed quite the flovour.

Yuzu Caramel Custard: This one I did not try, so I cannot give you my personal verdict, but my fellow diner said it was her least favourite out of the three desserts.

I felt extremely proud to have dined at a restaurant where I sort-of know the Chef. It’s someone from my childhood who is living her dream which she has relentlessly pursued – and that for me is success.  

Location: Izumi, Sunrise Building, 24th Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai Telephone: +91 8657455585 / +91 9820606667 Open from 12 Noon to 10.30PM

NOTE: I ate at Restaurant IZUMI on my OWN time and money, although we did get a discount once the co-owner recognized my dining companion! The views and opinions expressed on this blog are truly my OWN.

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