Kuuraku at Global Foyer in Gurgaon, might have just become my favourite Japanese restaurant in the country. For more reasons than one: the decor is inviting, the seating comfortable, the staff are friendly, the service is well-paced, and the food is simply awesome!
Kuuraku, and the art of Japanese casual dining
Having heard of Kuuraku, interestingly, from my Korean friends, I finally ate there with a friend yesterday. It was certainly an experience worth writing about in detail, so here goes 🙂
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeting by a guy dressed in what looked like a combination traditional Japanese Samue top and Jinbei pants, in all black. He was friendly, and seemed genuinely happy to welcome us to the place.
I’m emphasising this point, because the staff of most “authentic Japanese restaurants” in Gurgaon and Delhi NCR usually greet first-time “Indian guests” with surprise, and will give you the worst table in the place, unless you’re forceful and insist on being seated at a place of your choice.
I often think they’d turn us away if they could without causing a scene, and this would be for two reasons: a) the average Indian guest experimenting with Japanese food, can be quite annoying and a potentially unhappy customer (I’ve noticed related “scenes” with my own eyes!), and b) the best seats in the house are saved for regular, high-value Japanese/Asian customers. The same approach seems to apply at some Korean restaurants too.
Even at Kuuraku, we would have been led to the counter-top facing the kitchen downstairs, if I hadn’t pointed out to my reservation in their book, and insisted we sit upstairs, at the private tables with cozy low seating.
“Nosh San” had thankfully made a “reservation for two” via Zomato and we were led upstairs to our booth, but not before we were invited to take off our shoes and walk barefoot into the space reserved for those with a real appreciation of Japanese style dining!
The wait-staff upstairs, are clearly young women from the northeast of India, trained in the basics of Japanese etiquette and phrases, and like all northeast Indian women, are very hard working, and very good at their jobs. Not surprisingly, the service was excellent!
The menu at Kuuraku is mostly in Japanese, but with many sections featuring English translations as well. The descriptions in English don’t do justice to what the food is about, so I advise all first-timers to do some research before you go to a Japanese restaurant.
Learning Japanese – the Foodie version
To really enjoy Japanese food, and make the most of your meal at an authentic Japanese restaurant, you must know the basics of what is, and the difference between:
- Sushi vs Sashimi (see here)
- Ramen vs Udon (see here)
- Teppanyaki vs Teriyaki vs Tempura
- Yaki vs Don vs Gyoza (grilled food vs bowl dish vs dumplings)
- Tori vs Buta vs Gyuu (chicken vs pork vs beef)
- Ebi vs Kani vs Tako (prawn/shrimp vs crab vs octopus)
That being said, we started off our meal with light bites of yaki (skewered) meats, including kawa (chicken skin) and butabara oroshi (pork belly with horseradish), and then followed this up with sumibiyaki satsuma age (charcoal grilled fish cake), and a crunchy ebi (prawn) roll of sushi!
The pork skewer could have been better and a little more tender, but the chicken skin was great, the fish cake was awesome light and delicious, and the prawn sushi roll was truly delightful – the best of our starters!
At this point, I’d like to point out that we wanted to have Sake – but they didn’t have any! We then asked for the Japanese vodka on the menu, but they didn’t have that either 🙁
We were left with Kingfisher beer (that too, only large bottles), Sula wine, and other regular cocktails. My friend decided on the Sula Red, and I chose just chilled water…
We then ordered a tori no karaage (deep fried chicken marinated in soy) which was light and tender, despite the appearance and description, and another round of sushi – this time with spicy tuna, which was good, but not as great as the first ebi roll we had.
By now we were quite full, but I had to try a main dish, and went for their recommended Yakitori Don – which is chicken cutlets in a rice bowl, and I have to say, despite being quite full by now, I thoroughly enjoyed this too, and got some packed along with another ebi sushi roll, to take home!
We didn’t have desert, despite knowing that Japanese cuisine has great ice-cream and fruit-based options. I simply decided to try them out next time!
The best part of all this is, the way the service staff paced out our orders and food. It could have simply been the rush of orders in the kitchen, and the pressure on the waiters, but all our dishes arrived in a manner that gave us enough time to enjoy each, as well as kept us waiting a bit with anticipation for the next! A special “thank you” goes out to staff-member Julie, who took really good care of us throughout the 2 1/2 hours that we were at Kuuraku.
Overall, I’d say this is one of the best Japanese meals I’ve had in any restaurant in India. And I hope to return again and again, to hopefully go through their entire menu, and maybe get to enjoy some Sake as well!
If you like Japanese food, I recommend you try it out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed 🙂