Like an exotic geisha, self-assured and quiet in her inspiring conversations, soulfulness is back in our city. The pensioner’s paradise is a fleeting memory lost in the din of the Silicon Valley. But like a beautiful tempting smorgasbord of tastes, six Bengalureans decided to do away with longing and nostalgia, to give the city back its soul. And they did with 1Q1 – the self-titled and addressed new Japanese, Peruvian and Oriental restaurant that opened its expansive doors this week. The new restaurant is flanked by two able souls from the first Japanese restaurant Harima: Mako Ravindran brings his solid legacy, further kindled by Manjit Singh of Herbs and Spices’ European fires. Here, umami comes full circle as Mako returns to his Japanese lineage and the cuisine with which he was raised. The fact that Mako and Manjit continue to stand tall to tell the foodie tale since the ’90s is in itself credible, a testimony to their fortitude and foodography.
Dressed in subtle reds, warm hues, glass apparitions, glinting bulbs and filled with a quiet bustle, 1Q1 takes you back in time. Housed in a building where a printing press used to creak, the grunge meet art deco interiors – columns, arches, high ceilinged curvatures, glass reliefs, stone and wood elements of the renowned Khoslas evoke immediate serenity. When Mako and Manjit step in, and the journey is complete. Mako helms the kitchen and Manjit, the food and beverage consultant join hands with partners Anirudh Kheny, Chethan Hegde, Vijayasarathy and Haris Ali of Plate Project Hospitality, as you come to a standstill with this breath of fresh Asian air.
We started with the Scallops and Hamachi sashimi — the pinkest yellow tail dunked into a tastebud-awakening wasabi, pungent yet curiously balanced. The first of 1Q1’s stars, dreamy scallops! The menu is where Mako journeyed ingredients and continents. “Manjit and I ideated for long to create something unique.” Manjit adds, “With Mako’s Japanese culinary heritage, we decided on a place that reflected the soul of the city with Japanese Nikkei, Peruvian and Asian influences.” Nikkei, a combination of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine is an offshoot of when the Japanese moved to Peru centuries ago, and created their own cuisine using Peruvian punch. Expect the famed Ceviche, fruits, meats with sauces grilled to perfection. Mako adds, “As Japanese food is highly appreciated, it was time to change the rules from the predictable. The owners/partners know their food, and gave me a free rein to explore and experiment. We did Nikkei tastings, and decided Japanese, Peruvian with Asian tenets.” Mako’s sojourns of summer travelling to the US and UK has brought back a cuisine that famous chefs like Ferran Adrià and London’s Chotto Matte brought to life.
“It was time to bring it to the city, and my thought was let it be me who brings it, as I have an inherent understanding of Japanese. Our menu too is different, myriad tapas, and a succinct small main course. Unique. New sauces, classics like yakitori, Thai, Korean, Peruvian anticucho sauces, dimsums, authentic new flavours,” says Mako who served us a delectable signature dragon roll, Japanese cream cheese goodness, avocado and prawn, a burst of flavours… beautifully dressed in coat collars of red and yellow, dunked into soya and fresh wasabi. Perfect.
The lava roll had a crunchy freshness, but a tad too huge for a small mouth… we chomped in an unladylike manner. The pork belly thai salad, we loved. Fresh leafy profluence, basil bites, pomegranate and a tangy Thai dressing. The belly was crisp and caramelised. Wow.
From the triple robatayaki grill that both Mako and Manjit are busy patting each other on the back for, having made it from scratch, came our favourite, a bite of heaven, the grilled octopus with anticucho sauce… a peculiar tangy and chilli punch in the lemon and spices. Softest, juiciest octopus, which Mako informed us took a royal beating, was perfectly succulent. It takes some doing. There was Japan’s favourite bar food chicken yakitori subtle in caramelly texture, juciy… even though we don’t care much for chicken. The beef teriyaki came with notes of mirin, honey sesame oil on a caramel-ly beef. Need we say more?
The Jap version of KFC, the fried chicken karaage was ok, and the prawn and vegetable tempura, was crunchy but needs more spice, please.
The grande bar gives you a Great Gatby essence as mixologist and former London-living Tally brought us the ingredient-rich classic, tweaked, in the quaint outer courtyard where a flavour-spouting dimsum counter sits. Tally’s touches of brilliance gave us a Smoking Jazz - balsamic vinegar, elderflower syrup, smoked with tequila. “I’ve experimented and tried unique mixes to keep classics but with a twist.” The Transcontinental Sour with a merlot float was uniquely refreshing.
For the mains, we savoured Hainanese chicken and rice, cooked deeply in stock, doused with a sesame and soy sprinkling, and the softest flavourful chicken discs with a kick-inducing thai chilli paste and a bowl of stockish soup. The chicken, sous vide, buttered on the palate. Mako also learnt the Massaman curry in Thailand, from a traditional Thai Muslim, and with jasmine rice, subtle, not overpowering with coconut, we liked it.
When two minds that have not just understood food, but are passionate about the journey undertaken, a smorgasbord of flavours, authentic, singular hit you, and we’re already tapas-counting our next meal. We had the Macha and Raspberry ice cream merengue with notes of green tea and a hidden coulis. Delicious. Our favourite was the ode to the olden day mango duet, Mako’s version of the Panadan-infused mango sticky rice in a pannacotta with a mango coulis and duet. Light creamy, more mango on the duet would be nicer.
The restaurant offers originals - leche de tigre, Peruvian chillies, dimsums and ceviche, udon, katsu and more. Prices are on the higher side. “It is honest, simple singular flavours that 1Q1 brings to the table,” adds Mako. It has a romance that old Bangalore exuded. It’s entrance too is perfect for the curiousity seeker who wonders what this swish set is all about. The element of umami is still lingering, we’re going back for more.
1Q1 (One, Queens Road, One)
Express Building, Queens Road, Infantry Road, Bangalore-1
Open for dinner for a few weeks before lunch starts with Bento, etc
Call: 080 49652864
Meal for two: Rs 2,500