A Japanese gem tucked away in Delhi’s chic Greater Kailash II market, Mensho Tokyo is the lofty temple of ramen – but not just ramen as you know it.
Nothing warms my heart more these days than a straightforward menu. In this regard, Mensho Tokyo gets full marks. The menu isn’t made up of tons of pages trying to cater to everyone. Here is the focus.
We enter to find a compact space dominated by a communal table, typical of ramen shops in Japan, with whimsical wall art guarded by a significant number of rice paper lanterns. We’ll soon find ourselves a cozy corner.
I always say that eating out should be enjoyable and not too varied, so most of the time I’m happy to let the waitress guide me. Do your best, I tell them. I use the same strategy with Mensho Tokyo.
Drink recommendations are Blue Matcha Moscow Mule and the Yuzu G&T. My companion’s Moscow Mule is a dramatic blue infused vodka with blue pea blossom. The rest is ginger ale garnished with a dehydrated lemon. It looks impressive but leaves them unimpressed. My Yuzu G&T, on the other hand, is subtle yet effective, Japanese perfection in a goblet. The drink’s brass nails are gin, yuzu syrup, tonic, togarashi, and dehydrated lemon, apparently in dual roles in this review. So that I don’t get flower envy, mine is also garnished with a pansy. (In fact, Mensho Tokyo is one of those restaurants that loves to garnish everything with edible flowers—a trend I’m not complaining about just yet.) But I digress. My G&T is just the kind of drink you need if you’re a badass like me and have a penchant for drinking alcohol on a daily basis – it uplifts you even as it intoxicates. seconds please!
To be honest, Mensho Tokyo has a lot more to offer despite positioning itself as a casual ramen bar. The food is definitely upscale but in a casual, quirky setting. The owner, along with her husband Viren Khuller, is chef Vidushi Sharma, who picked up her culinary skills at Le Cordon Bleu London. She has teamed up with Michelin chef Tomoharo “Menya” Shono to open this Delhi branch of his Mensho Tokyo chain. Founded in Japan in 2005, Mensho Tokyo is now a global ramen chain with eight outposts in Japan itself, two in San Francisco and San Rafael, and one in Bangkok and now one in Delhi.
Each bowl of ramen is a work of art for the Japanese chef, who flew in from Tokyo to set up the Delhi outpost. I finally got to ramen, but not without a few detours.
On request, dishes can be served directly after preparation. The first to arrive is the poached chicken in chili oil. A flavor bomb, it’s a very promising start, the moist chicken collides with the intense oil, the topping of peanuts and sesame seeds provides a contrasting texture. (A salute to the condiments, which include delicious pickles and interesting chili dips, is only fair.)
Next comes the yasai chips, fried enoki, lotus root, eggplant, spinach, and sweet potatoes, served with wasabi aioli. Unfortunately, the chips have no flavor at all.
But no problem. The Dynamite Prawns, which I’ve seen versions of on every restaurant menu lately, get us back on track.
The gyoza is also divine and presented in an interesting way.
Of all Japanese dishes – and I love some of them – my favorite is katsu curry. If it’s on the menu, I will Order It. I’m usually disappointed, but Mensho Tokyo’s katsu curry raisuboru (rice bowl) is an excellent rendition (though not the best in Delhi).
And then it’s time for the ramen. When you think of ramen, you picture a mountain of noodles soaked in a beneficial broth and topped with a variety of accompaniments. While Mensho Tokyo has an abundance of this regular ramen style (where, incidentally, you can swap out the noodles for a gluten-free version if you like), with broths ranging from miso dashi to tori paitan, the highlight is the mazesoba (ramen without the soup). Served with a thicker sauce, this style of ramen has an intense, more complex flavor.
We order two servings of Pork Mazesoba, one with sliced pork and the other with Chashu pork. Chashu is marinated and braised pork belly, but unfortunately I had to google this information – the waiter couldn’t explain it. These dry bowls of ramen are delicious but taste similar. It’s entirely our fault, but we’re pork-pigs.
Of course we must have the matcha ice cream, a staple of Japanese restaurants and an old favorite of mine. A dense chocolate cake is also brought to the table, but nothing can overshadow the ice cream.
All in all, Mensho Tokyo is an upscale dining experience and offers one of the best Japanese dishes in Delhi. Ramen to it.
Mensho Tokyo, M-72, near Blue Tokai, Greater Kailash II, New Delhi 110048
Opening hours: 12:30pm – 3:30pm (lunch), 6:30pm – 10:00pm (dinner); closed on Tuesdays
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
One dish we loved: Poached Chicken in Chili Oil
One dish that didn’t work for us: Yasai chips
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