‘Fusion’ is the keyword at the latest Japanese restaurant in Colombo.
Kami Maki is a small restaurant, so don’t go here if you want to engage in private conversation as the diners next to you are bound to overhear. There are only three small tables on the top floor, and a counter with stools on the ground floor, but we were the only people there on a Sunday afternoon, so it wasn’t a problem. If you are prone to claustrophobia, you may feel too constrained. But they’ve done well with what they have, and I’m guessing it’s nice at night. It fits the bill in terms of décor, as everything is minimalistic, with a typically Japanese sliding door concealing the washroom, and pretty flowers drawn on the walls. They could play some soft music, to add to the ambience.
Parking is a problem. They indicate a spot with an arrow but you can’t see which space is reserved for the restaurant specifically. Better signage would help.
The food served here seems to have been Sri Lankanised. In a good way. Everything we were served was tasty, and that is what matters in the end. It was also fun to see how creative they were with the menu. The smoked salmon and avocado maki (Rs. 490) was good, soft and chewy, and the tastes of the ingredients were distinctive. The shichimi cuttlefish (Rs. 650) -shichimi means ‘seven flavor chilli pepper’ in Japanese- was basically a hot garlic cuttlefish dish- but slightly different. It was clear that they have given thought to how they can add local favourites to a Japanese menu, and it works.
For mains, we had the chicken donburi (Rs. 590) and the teriyaki chicken rice burger (Rs. 550). The donburi was very good. The grated carrots and leeks reminded me of fried rice, which was comforting in a weird way. The rice part of the burger was toasted perhaps- it had a baked feel to it which made it slightly dry, and the mayonnaise overpowered an otherwise tasty dish. Also, the sauces and food threatened to drip/drop off the plate.
Dessert was a highlight, and creativity again played a big role here. Both the panko fried banana fritters with wasabi and honey (Rs. 350), and the cookie coated chocolate ice cream (Rs. 350) -what was the Japanese element here, I wondered- were delicious.
It has to be noted with satisfaction that the portions are plentiful. Considering the price for the full meal (all this added up to a final bill of slightly less than Rs. 3000), it translates into very good value for money. And although our stomachs were full without even finishing all of the mains (they were that big), nothing felt overly oily or unhealthy, which is the best part about Japanese cuisine. Presentation was also good, as can be seen from the pictures.
It wasn’t a busy afternoon, and the food came pretty quickly. Our waiter wasn’t too quick to grasp what we wanted, but this may be due to the language gap. He was earnest though, and we switched to Sinhalese, so it was fine. Perhaps an area that can be improved on, to round off the rest of the experience.
With a carefully thought out menu, creative combinations, and unfussy food, this is a place that delivers what’s promised. In case space becomes an issue, the pricing makes it a good option to think about when you want some takeout to enjoy at home, or if you are entertaining guests.