Restaurant Review: Tatami, Bandra

TatamiMainLast month, Japanese restaurant Kofuku vacated its Bandra address of four years and moved into a new location in the suburb. It was promptly replaced by Tatami, another Japanese joint, which feels like an echo of the previous occupant. Tatami is more of a transplant, a new entity in an existing body. The restaurant has only implemented minor cosmetic changes to Kofuku’s decor such as a fresh paint job and new murals depicting sumo wrestlers and Japanese scenery. They’ve also kept Kofuku’s tradition of greeting guests with a gong salute as they enter.

We expected to be served the same food as Kofuku, but the menu has not been cloned. Sure they serve Japanese staples such as sashimi, sushi, hot pot meals and teppanyaki, which are common to Kofuku, but the latter offers greater variety in terms of meats and preparations. At Tatami, we missed our Kofuku favourites such as the bulgogi and the hambagu steak. Instead, there’s a page full of maki rolls given the American treatment i.e. generously garnished with spicy mayonnaise.

Their signature OMG roll (Rs800) is a multi-layered mouthful of torched tuna atop a ring of rice enclosing salmon, tuna and creamy avocado. Streaked with mayo, the over-the-top maki roll is sweet, creamy and quite tasty but defies the minimalism championed by Japanese cooking. The mayo-free spicy tuna sesame roll (Rs500), on the other hand, is forgettably bland as the sauce that garnishes the tuna is spicy in name alone. The ebi ten (Rs600) is a shrimp tempura roll similarly overwrought with a topping of chopped, crunchy prawn, but at least it has more flavour than the spicy tuna iteration.

Their seaweed sarada (Rs380) or salad, a toss-up of limp sheets of nori, cherry tomatoes and an underwhelming ponzu dressing, has nothing on Kofuku’s citrus-spiked seaweed salad. Our meal took a sharp turn from average to stellar with the chilled tuna tanuki sarada (Rs450) composed of ruby red diced tuna sprinkled with crunchy tanuki or fried tempura pieces. Unlike in the preceding dishes, the tuna is allowed to shine in this clean-flavoured salad bowl.

Tatami’s chicken yakitori (Rs450) is a standard affair of skewered grilled chicken and moist leek dipped in a pleasantly sweet teriyaki sauce. If you’ve got ramen on your mind after their heavy sushi, it’s best to order the Tatami ramen (Rs650) to share, but keep your expectations in check. The hefty bowl has a pliant cut of pork belly entwined in a coil of Maggi-style noodles. A heap of Goa chorizo mince in the broth feels like a shortcut to flavour that is otherwise absent in the dashi.

While it has a familiar face, Tatami hasn’t won us quite like Kofuku did. In fact by keeping so many reminders of its predecessor, they only made us miss it more.

Get: OMG roll (Rs800); tuna tanuki sarada (Rs450).

Skip: Spicy tuna sesame roll (Rs500); seaweed sarada (Rs380).

It is our policy to wait at least a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.

Prices exclude taxes. 

Tatami, Second Floor, Kenilworth Mall, in the same building as KFC, off Linking Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 6710 5105. Open daily, from noon to 3pm and from 6.30pm to midnight. Get directions here. Order from Scootsy.

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