Mensho Tokyo: Bowl of goodness

A Japanese jewel tucked away in Delhi’s tony Greater Kailash II market, Mensho Tokyo is the high temple of ramen — but not only ramen as you know it.
Mensho tokyo is set around a larger communal table, but there is enough individual seating as well.
Mensho Tokyo is set around a larger communal table, but there is enough individual seating as well.

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more these days than a restaurant menu that is manageable. On that count, Mensho Tokyo gets full marks. The menu is not reams of pages, trying to be all things to all people. There’s focus here.

We enter to find a compact space dominated by a communal table of the kind that would be common in ramen shops in Japan, featuring quirky wall art watched over by a sizeable population of rice paper lanterns. We soon find ourselves a cosy nook.

I always say that dining out should be an enjoyable endeavour, not fraught with too much choice, which is why I’m mostly happy to be guided by the waitstaff. Give me your best, I tell them. I employ the same strategy at Mensho Tokyo.

Mensho tokyo has interesting drinks, like blue matcha moscow mule (left); and the yuzu g&t (right).
Mensho Tokyo has interesting drinks, like Blue Matcha Moscow Mule (left); and the Yuzu G&T (right).

The drinks recommendations are Blue Matcha Moscow Mule and the Yuzu G&T. My companion’s Moscow Mule is a dramatic blue, the vodka infused with blue pea flower. The rest of it is ginger ale, garnished with a dehydrated lemon. It looks impressive but leaves her unimpressed. My Yuzu G&T, on the other hand, is understated yet impactful, Japanese perfection in a goblet. The brass tacks of the drink are gin, yuzu syrup, tonic, togarashi and dehydrated lemon, obviously in a double role in this review. Lest I get flower envy, mine comes garnished with a pansy too. (In fact, Mensho Tokyo is one of those restaurants that loves to garnish everything with edible flowers — a trend I’m not complaining about, yet.) But I’m digressing. My G&T is just the sort of drink you need if you’re a bad person like me and partial to day drinking — it uplifts even as it intoxicates. Seconds, please!

These mensho tokyo starters are absolute winners: (left to right) poached chicken in chilli oil; dynamite prawns; and gyoza.
These Mensho Tokyo starters are absolute winners: (left to right) Poached Chicken in Chilli Oil; Dynamite Prawns; and Gyoza.

To be honest, although it has positioned itself as a casual ramen bar, there’s much more to Mensho Tokyo. The food is definitely fine-dining standard, but in a casual, quirky setting. The proprietor, along with her husband Viren Khuller, is Chef Vidushi Sharma, who picked up her culinary chops at Le Cordon Bleu London. She has partnered with Michelin-rated chef Tomoharo ‘Menya’ Shono to open this branch of his Mensho Tokyo chain in Delhi. Started in 2005 in Japan, Mensho Tokyo is now a global ramen chain with eight outposts in Japan itself, two in San Francisco & 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 down from Tokyo to set up the Delhi outpost. I got to the ramen eventually, but not without a few detours.

The interiors are quirky, including this selfie-friendly restroom (right).
The interiors are quirky, including this selfie-friendly restroom (right).

As requested, dishes fly to the table as soon as they were ready. The first to arrive is the Poached Chicken in Chilli Oil. A flavour bomb, it is a most auspicious beginning, the moist chicken colliding with the intense oil, the topping of peanuts and sesame seeds providing some contrasting texture. (A shout-out to the condiments, which include delicious pickled cucumber and interesting chilli dips, is only fair.)

Next to arrive are the Yasai Chips, batter-fried enoki, lotus root, eggplant, spinach and sweet potato served with wasabi aioli. Sadly, the chips have no flavour at all.

But, no matter. The Dynamite Prawns, some version of which I have encountered on every restaurant menu of late, have us right back on track.

The Gyoza too is divine and is presented in an interesting way.

The mains at mensho tokyo are competent: katsu curry  raisuboru (left) and pork mazesoba.
The mains at Mensho Tokyo are competent: Katsu Curry Raisuboru (left) and Pork Mazesoba.

Of all Japanese dishes — and I love quite a few — I am most partial to katsu curry. If it’s on the menu, I will order it. Usually I’m disappointed, but Mensho Tokyo’s Katsu Curry Raisuboru (rice bowl) is an excellent rendition (however, not the best in Delhi).

And then it’s time for the ramen. When you think of ramen, the image that is conjured up is of a mountain of noodles soaking in a comforting broth, replete with a variety of garnishes. While Mensho Tokyo does have a plethora of this regular breed of ramen (where you can, incidentally, swap the noodles for a gluten-free version if you want), with broths ranging from Miso Dashi to Tori Paitan, the highlight is the Mazesoba (soupless ramen). Served with a thicker sauce, this kind of ramen has an intense, more complex flavour.

We order two portions of Pork Mazesoba, one with sliced pork and the other with chashu pork. Chashu is marinated and braised pork belly, but sadly this information I had to google — the waitstaff couldn’t explain it. These dry bowls of ramen are lovely, but taste similar. Our fault entirely, but we’re suckers for pork.

The matcha ice cream (left) is excellent at mensho tokyo; and the chocolate tart (right) comes a close second.
The matcha ice cream (left) is excellent at Mensho Tokyo; and the chocolate tart (right) comes a close second.

Of course, we have to have the matcha ice cream, a stock-in-trade of Japanese restaurants, and an old favourite of mine. A dense chocolate tart is also brought to the table, but nothing can overshadow the ice cream.

All in all, Mensho Tokyo is an elevated dining experience, offering one of the best Japanese meals in Delhi. Ramen to that.

Mensho Tokyo, M-72, near Blue Tokai, Greater Kailash II, New Delhi 110048

Timings: 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm (lunch), 6:30 pm – 10 pm (dinner); closed Tuesdays

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
Food: 7/10
Drinks: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Interiors/Décor: 8/10
Vibe: 7/10
One dish we loved: Poached Chicken in Chilli Oil
One dish that didn’t work for us: Yasai Chips

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