Bangalore restaurant reviews Japanese


Sunday, May 15, 2016Me! In words


The blog often goes through phases of silence and I have a host of excuses to blame it on - work, home, family, laziness... I could just go on. And then I feel this wave of guilt for neglecting what I really love to do and get back into it, diving in head first. And so, after one of those breaks, I am back... again! and what better way to start than with a cuisine I love - Japanese!

When we first saw the board announcing Sakae on Double Road, we were all sorts of skeptical considering the location. But then curiosity got the better of us and we decided to give it a shot. Sakae, as my good friend Google tells me, means prosperity.

Sakae means Prosperity

The restaurant is attached to the UNO-Inn hotel. When we first went there some time last year, the restaurant had two sections to it - one with the traditional low seating that is often let out for parties. The other was a plastic chair and table affair in white and red. The second time, there was a lot of change and the main part of the restaurant is now split into three sections. An enclosed one right after the entrance for small groups, the red and white table and chair set up and then the low seating, not the kind where you have to cross your legs like in Harima, but the ones where you have a nice deep space to dangle your legs.

The low seating in Sakae. You have to leave your footwear at the stand at the entrance and settle down on these soft cushions. Soft slippers are kept near the restrooms for those
who need to use them.

With all the experimenting we do, Anoushka has developed a liking for specific dishes based on cuisine. In Japanese, her current favorites are prawn tempura and a helping of sticky rice with Miso soup. And that's what she had on both visits. The miso soup here has a lovely dashi that you know instantly has been steeped in a fish base and is finished off with wakame and scallions. Served steaming in little black bowls, there is also a clear, slightly sweet, cold version of the dashi broth that is brought to the table for each diner in separate bowls.

On our second visit, Sakae seemed to be have upped their game as far as presentation goes. This up here is the serving of the Onigiri/sticky rice and miso soup when we ordered it recently. An interesting touch to have it wrapped in Nori sheets. The sliced veggies are pickled and the Miso soup as flavorful as it was the first time.

The Prawn tempura was not available on our first visit and so we ordered the Tori Karaage - the fried chicken. It comes to you on a platter with shredded daikon and some tempura parsley as well. The chicken is moist and done well despite being flash fried. The crispy tempura batter makes it a nice munchie to have.

Another dish that we brought to the table was the Haikoro - Double Cooked Pork which is served on a salad of lettuce, peppers, scallions and finished with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. You may find the salad part of this dish overpowering, but it does lend some great texture and taste to the pork that is abundantly mixed into this.

The Prawn tempura served with daikon. Crispy and crunchy, these fresh jumbo
prawns are quite addictive.

On our first visit we ordered the Gyu Tan Sioyaki - Beef Tongue - Sliced into medium roundels, these slices are marinated in a simple base of pepper and salt, grilled and sprinkled with some sesame and freshly ground pepper. Never one for offal, I honestly thought this would have the same icky rough texture of tongue, when cooked in the traditional Mangalorean style, a style I have tried before. Surprisingly, though a bit chewy, this easily yielded to a knife. It had a peppery taste to it with a nice sear to each slice, from the grill.

Our second visit to Sakae turned out to be much better than the first, considering we found a lot more of the menu available this second time around. Though the menu does not feature a sushi platter, you can ask them to create one for you. For Rs 1500+ taxes (April 2016) we had a 12-piece sushi platter made up of Tamago/ egg, Maguru/Tuna, Ika/Squid, Hirami/Flounder, Salmon and Prawn rolls. Served up with mild wasabi and soy and gari this was a platter that satisfied and did not really break the bank.

Since we were in the weekend mode of eating ourselves into a coma, we brought on the Yakisoba Noodles with pork with a very very generous sprinkling bonita flakes on top. A healthy portion for one and perfect for two to share, if you have more food on the table. Soft and moist, with a enough of vegetables to make mummy happy, this dish gets all its flavors from the pork that is in it and the Bonita flakes over it, that seem to have a life of their own on the dish.

The Ramen is perhaps the most expensive of dishes on the menu at around Rs 500 for a dish, but rest assured it is a full meal in itself. I asked for the Pork Ramen which comes in a deep dish with a broth that is steaming and lined with pork fat, generous slices of meat, noodles, soft boiled egg, fresh onions and scallions, making it completely slurp-worthy. Not having yet had the pleasure of dining at a Ramen shop in Tokyo, I can't vouch for whether this nails it, but what I can say is that this is a dish that I thought of for a long while after I slurped down the last bit.

Prawn Tempura Soba Noodles was the other main course we had on this visit. A repeat of the prawn tempura and its crispiness is served over a bowl of soba noodles. It has a light broth that is served at room temperature and topped off with scallions and garlic flakes, adding to the flavor that has some basic complexity to it.

Sakae is no EDO if that is what you are wondering, but what it definitely is, is Japanese food at prices that won't make you wince. The food is generous in quantity and the experience of sitting down to a meal quite literal. The menu, part in picture and part in Japanese script is not user-friendly, despite the 2-3 word English descriptions, but with a sense of adventure and some help from the staff you will do just fine.

Sakae has a full fledged bar and so a tipple of your choice is by and large on the cards. A meal for two here is approximately Rs 3000, which of course is based on the meal you are ordering. They have a clean loo including those automated hands-free loo apparatus that I find most amusing.

Address: 90, KH Road, Double Road Shantinagar
Cuisine: Japanese
Price for 2: Rs 2000
Serves Alcohol: Yes
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Limited parking outside and in a basement parking space
You can find it on the map here

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