My friend Shradha started this wonderful event series called ‘The Philia’ not too long ago. The concept is very simple – Meet people over food. How can you possibly go wrong with that? I realized that as you get older, you don’t always find it easy to meet people and make new friends. You get so busy with work and life in general that it becomes difficult to meet people outside of your regular friends circle and even when you do, the toughest part is to maintain and nurture those friendships. ‘The Philia’ is designed to create an experience where people of diverse backgrounds can get together while exploring different cuisines every week.
This week ‘The Philia’ took us to Harima, a Japanese restaurant in Bangalore. Well.. before I begin talking about the restaurant, the food and the experience, let me tell you something – I do not eat seafood. Yes, you read that right. Sea food is really not my thing. It is more psychological than anything else actually. If you give me fish and tell me it is chicken, I might not think twice and have it, but knowing that it is fish before putting it in my mouth, I would hesitate a bit.
My discomfort with seafood, however, did not stop me from going to the Japanese restaurant. I had promised a friend and I didn’t want to ditch her.. and hello! I am an aspiring food blogger! I must open my mind to new types of food and experiences! With that resolve, I walked into Harima last week.
The place was beautiful. Just what you expect a Japanese restaurant to be – wooden flooring, dim lighting and very formal. What I loved about the place is that it did not stink of sea food. There are many restaurants that specialize in sea food that STINK even if it’s just a stall in food court. For a non sea food eater, that is the most repulsive odour ever! It is the number one appetite killer for me.
I was ushered into this one cute little room which would make the authentic Japanese experience come to life. Low tables and floor seating. Hmm… sitting on the floor is something we’re not so comfortable with anymore. That’s where you realize that whoever designed Harima is super smart. On closer inspection, you realize that there is a little niche carved out under the table where you can put your legs and sit like you’re sitting on a chair. A very good way to keep people focused on their food and not those legs that are cramping and sleeping.
A round of introductions and I had new food companions in an interior designer, entrepreneur, fashion designer (man! I loved her jumpsuit!) and long lost college acquaintances. As all meals go, we start with the first round of Sake – a Japanese alcohol made from rice. We were advised to start with the warm Sake, and so we did. The first sip and it felt a lot more alcoholic than I had anticipated, but I slowly ‘warmed’ up to it.
The prawn, chicken starters followed. I absolutely loved the Chicken and a bit of Soy made it go a long way! The food looked beautiful and the conversations were warming up.. while I was warming up to Japanese cuisine.
In came the Sushi platter. I wouldn’t say that I was not looking forward to it, but it was more like the feeling you get in your stomach just before you’re to take an important exam. A little nervous.. a little anxious.. and a little excited. Excited to test my own limits and willpower. (My neighbour at the table was a vegetarian and I had already told him that I might dig into his food.. well… just in case.)
I have to admit, the platter looked really beautiful and not threatening at all. There were tuna rolls, salmon, shrimp, egg roll and other fish that I can’t remember. I was surprised that I was not overwhelmed by it at all. I learnt something about myself that day. I like Sushi! It wasn’t before long that I had gobbled down the rolls and the salmon and found myself ordering California rolls and crab rolls. My Bengali mother in law would be so happy with me!
The next course was the Ramen. Again, something I’m so new to having and I loved every bite of it. I found it a bit bland for my very desi palate, but hey.. wasn’t I there to experience something new!! Besides, you give me noodles at any time of the day or night and I will be a happy child! *ear to ear grin*
The final course was a Japanese pancake with ice cream. The pancake really didn’t do much for me, but I did like the ice cream. I guess by this time I was really looking for a hit of that hard flavour on my tongue. The ice cream came pretty close to it.
The night ended with raging conversation about anything and everything under the sun. I realized that there were many regulars at the table and what better combination can you ask for than good food and great friends.
My Two Cents… I loved my first experience of authentic Sushi and Japanese food i.e. as authentic as Japanese food in India gets. I was really happy that the fish wan’t fishy and that is perhaps the most important thing for newbies like me. The staff was extremely courteous and prompt. The ambiance was so mellow and comforting and according to me encouraged conversation between people who’ve met for the first time. I guess that’s what the Japanese are about.. making you feel homely and welcome..while feeding you to no end!
I also very strongly recommend ‘The Philia’ experience. To be honest, I was a little nervous about going alone and having a meal with people I don’t know, but this is a great platform to meet people from diverse backgrounds. It is a new cusine and restaurant every week with exciting people and lively conversations! I garuntee that you will have a wonderful time! For more information on this great experience visit http://www.keiktupiou.com/.
Psst… Shradha makes the most amazalicious cheesecakes eevvaaahh!!!!!