The Nippon Hotel is back! Our long-anticipated visit to the Bamboo Room finally took place after going there THRICE and finding the doors firmly closed with an 'OPENING SOON' sign smacked firmly in front. The restaurant is brand spanking new and when we went in at lunchtime we were told that the only items on the menu at that time were either rice and curry or biriyani.
We decided to get Rice and Curry (Rs. 500) and a portion of Kozhikode Biriyani (Rs. 650) from their limited menu. We were told that what they were trying to do with the rice and curry is to introduce a Lankan/Keralite fusion.
*The curries pictured above are as follows: [from left to right] mango chutney, chicken, batter-fried ash plantains, dhal, chicken gravy and spinach.
It's safe to say that Bamboo Room is a serious contender for Upali's curry crown. Fresh, and delicious to boot, the batter fried ash plantains were an instant favourite. However, the mango was a bit on the raw side, and the chicken was really bland even though it looked like it'd been marinating for quite a bit.
The Kozhikode (Keralite Dum Biriyani) is a more understated version of the traditional biriyani. Caramelised onions, cashews and the occasional shred of parsley were sprinkled all over the well-cooked rice and three enormous chunks of chicken were buried underneath. It's also served with an egg just in case the excess of chicken doesn't sate you. There are two little dishes of raita and mint sambol on the side.
For dessert, we got the Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (Rs. 450) which was quite tasty but not the best. The ice cream was a bit too frozen (as in there were icicles) and the cake was a tad dry, but this is a good dessert to finish off with nonetheless. You could always head next door to Kafe Nippon and snag some of their sweeties for dessert if you wish.
Yes, they serve alcohol during lunch which is a bit of a surprise but a pleasant one. We opted for the Gin Fizz (Rs. 650) and the Arrack Passion (Rs. 650). The Gin Fizz was the edgy millennial version of the lime juice. It was nice and tart with hefty amounts of alcohol and soda alike.
The Arrack Passion had all the arrack and passionfruit the name promised, but was reminiscent of a sad old man because it was too bitter for words.
Service & Ambience
The interior is rather bleak with tacky 70s style velvet-cushioned wooden chairs and tables. There's a lot of red going on for some reason, so it isn't a very calming atmosphere. What I liked about it is that it's a more glorified 'eat-house' with its air-conditioner on full blast and stark white tiled floors.
While there was a senior waiter who was aware of the menu, our service was later taken care of by a more amateur waiter who fumbled around the menu but he was really, really attentive and helpful. The food didn't take too long at all, and each table was paid adequate attention.
The Bamboo Room could certainly use a bit of improvisation in terms of their menu. We were informed that during dinner there's usually a proper menu to choose from. We certainly hope they'll be functioning on full steam soon as this seems like a promising, cool spot to get lunch at. Go with a group of friends and make sure you're starving because their portion sizes are huge and filling.