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Hokkaido; Chennai's best kept secret?

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Taking a U turn from under the Cenetoph road bridge, takes you to a plethora of restaurants, but soon after the dessert shop, right next door is an unassuming door with HOKKAIDO written on top. Nothing too fancy. Stepping in takes you inside a beautifully set up, small, but thoughtfully laid out tables that resemble sleep pods in Tokyo. Almost guaranteeing you fully privacy. The shabby menu doesn't make any first impressions. When the food arrives, you are, but left wanting, "Is this Chennai's best kept secret?"









The shabby looking but extensive menu, hides some of the best ingredients the industry could hope for. For a moment, my eyes popped out seeing Wagyu beef steak on this menu. Ox Tongue. Some of the price points can surprise you for a stand alone restaurant, but the minute the food arrives, my tongue was wagging like a dog, waiting for its meal.

Having a big group is always an advantage to try many dishes. When one of them is among India's best Japanese chefs, you get a chef's perspective from a diner's side. However, when the platters with sashimi and sushi arrive, we were just short of messing it up in trying to get the first bite. That is, after staring at it in disbelief for a while.

While Yellow Fin tuna, may not be the greatest of the sashimi, the rest of it more than made up for it. Scallops, Crab stick, lean tuna and a supremely brilliant mackerel all vying for our attention. The Nigiri sushi and the maki from the sushi platter weren't left behind either.  After making out with the dishes with eyes, it was the turn of our tongues, which went wild. Lobster. Wow. If you are used to cray fish and small lobsters masquerading as fine dine dishes in Chennai, this will throw you out of your comfort zone. Large lobster baked to perfection with shreds of garlic, slightly burnt to emit a toasty flavour and claws that you need suck the meat out of. From a messy meat like lobster, gulping down two variations of oysters was super easy, simply squeeze the lemon and glide it in with the chopsticks. Food-gasm happens automatically.

A round of sea attack later, our focus shifted to the land.  Surf and turf, they say! Ox Tongue, simply grilled. Melts in the mouth. Wagyu like beef steak. Priced at Rs. 3000, the closest you might get good Wagyu is in Sri Lanka, priced at about LKR 12000 (INR about 5500), plus the airfare to Colombo. Comparatively, 3k doesn't seem so much. But once it arrives well done with the beautiful peanut sauce, I thought, this is going to be chewy. Nope. Well done beef, but one that slides beautifully through the palate. An Angus like ribs, served boneless, (priced at about Rs. 1200), if 3k is a little to steep.

While desserts are not common in Japanese restaurants, an ice cream with red soya paste more than did its job of ending the meal with something sweet.

It maybe a carnivore's paradise, but as of now, this is Chennai's best kept secret doling out the choicest of ingredients at reasonable prices in a small, but classy private space in Alwarpet. 

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Chennai Foody: Hokkaido; Chennai's best kept secret?
Hokkaido; Chennai's best kept secret?
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