Akimoto San makes a case for the slow cooked and hearty broth at his Aki Bay in Velachery
AT THE beginning of the 20th century, Chinese immigrants in Japan introduced Lamian noodles to Japanese palates. Often served in a simple broth, this became popular street food among workers. The Japanese inability to pronounce ‘L’ gave rise to ramen and quickly spread to every corner of the country. Japanese soldiers returning home after the Sino-Japanese war further cemented this dish into popular culinary culture. It remained a street food until 1958, when the first instant noodles were invented and sold as the Nissin Instant Noodle cup.
Aki-Bay, a new Japanese Ramen restaurant that opened last month in Verachery…sorry, Velachery, is meant to be the foundation stone of an ambitious Japanese entrepreneur attracted to our shores in search of opportunities. Akimoto-san was posted for three years as an engineer with Nissan in Chennai, at the end of which he decided he wanted to open a business here. His quest for an opportunity led him to the Tokyo-based ramen school, Shoku No Dojo, and a crash course in Ramen cuisine. I am a big fan of Japanese culture and its culinary dishes reflect its highly civilised heritage. There are some excellent Japanese restaurants in Chennai, but my take of ramen has been largely framed by restaurants offering it among a large variety of dishes, or pseudo-ramen noodle bars. A broth, often insipid, with added toppings and a good helping of noodles.
You will understand my surprise when I discovered three varieties of ramen on the menu card as the only dish offered by Aki-Bay: chicken soup ramen, chicken clear soup ramen and vegetarian ramen. Akimoto-san explains, “The secret of a good Ramen, is in the broth. It takes at least five hours of slow cooking for the broth to find its full flavour.” The noodles have a yellowish tinge to them, “I get the noodles made in Chennai, but provide a special ingredient that I get from Japan,” he adds.
A few days later, I returned to Aki-Bay with friends to share the experience. This time I tried the vegetarian Ramen, convinced that it couldn’t rival in taste with the chicken. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a must for any culinary aficionado — a little piece of Japan in the heart of ‘Verachery’, as my Japanese friends call it.
Ramen from Rs 480 onwards. Details: 42088667