food review Food

Kampai tries to be too many tings at once

The Mini Tuna Tartare on Crispy Rice Crackers

The Mini Tuna Tartare on Crispy Rice Crackers   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Hit and (mostly) miss, Kampai seems to have forgotten the concept of shokunin

The Japanese are respectful, meticulous, and obsessive in everything they do. It is for this reason that in Japan, so many chefs focus on doing one thing and doing it very well. This single-mindedness arises from the Japanese concept of shokunin, which indicates a devotion to the craft and an obligation to work your best for the welfare of the people.

Shokunin is ingrained in chefs even when they begin their apprenticeships.

When I read the menu at Kampai, which included sushi, baos, robata (barbecue), curry, ramen and more, I feared that they had forgotten the concept of shokunin. Kampai does some things well; unfortunately, the list of things they get wrong is far longer.

The vibe: Confused, both in terms of design and energy. The restaurant boasts two private dining rooms near the entrance to the main dining hall, which have the traditional horigotatsu style, low tables with a recessed floor beneath to stretch your legs. Thereafter things get confusing — I am not sure whether they want to be a club or a restaurant.

Avocado and Salmon Tartare

Avocado and Salmon Tartare   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

There is a vast bar on one side, with an elevated DJ booth next to it, and a line of curtained, semi-enclosed (and cramped) tables on the other side. The diners are a mix of office-goers, families with kids, and ‘foodies’.

Do try: The Chashu Pork Bun, which had the right fluffiness, crunch and sweetness; the Duck Gyoza with Hoisin Sauce which was bursting with flavour; the crunchy Enoki Sushi Roll which had the perfect ratio of rice to mushroom and mayo; and the Pineapple on Skewers with Teriyaki sauce, which was nicely caramelized, seasoned, and juicy.

The broth of the Tantanmen Ramen was excellent, but the noodles and accompaniments were disappointing.

Skip: Barring these, I found little joy. The Brie cheese tempura sounded interesting, but was blobs of fried cheese with no taste or zing; the avocado and salmon tartare lacked flavour and was too warm; the non-veg sushi platter represented good value (₹2,100 for 18 pieces) but was sub-par, and the matcha tiramisu is a combination, which should never be attempted.

No joy with their cocktails either — they lacked balance and their viscosity was all wrong. The Ginza Mist, for example, a blend of sake, gin, yuzu, and plum, was so thick and still, it was insufferable.

Go with: Anyone who hasn’t experienced authentic Japanese food.

Space bar: 70 seats spread over 2,400 sq ft.

How much: ₹4,250 for two (sans alcohol).

Getting there: Worldmark I at Aerocity. Whilst there is ample parking, a ride sharing service is advised.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:59:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/kampai-tries-to-be-too-many-tings-at-once/article29391744.ece

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