We greet the very first properly Bangalore day of the season (intermittently rainy, breezy, and just a touch gloomy) with greedy gulps of petrichor and a hasty journey to this new ramen-ya, sufficiently famished to do its offerings justice. Oishii Ramen proves hard to find - we zig zag between a bus stop and a brunch spot, the mystery of it all whetting the appetite. The thing to do is find the location of the now-shut Sunny Side Bistro, above the Wills Lifestyle store on 1st Main. It’s now an eerily silent building all the way to the top, where a bright blue door welcomes us into the prettiest rooftop restaurant we’ve seen in a city with some pretty stiff competition in this category.
It’s mostly fecund garden (a delightful new city trend) interrupted by sleek tables and discrete intervals. The menu turns out to be as austere, making us feel like we have found the Shanthi Sagar of ramen joints. A quick scan of the menu proves this impression right. A miso chashu bowl seems to have done away with the eponymous chashu, which usually means braised pork belly, and seems to consist only of the idiosyncratically labelled “chicken meat”.
We are not deterred. Mugs of ready-to-eat soup from previous monsoons have hardened these hearts (and arteries), and at any rate our bank balance is pleased: Oishii is far easier on the pocket than its aesthetic suggests.
Spinach sesame - ordered only to fulfil the day’s good-girl-greens requirement - proves to be surprisingly tasty. Blanched perfectly with sesame and toasted garlic, it isn’t exactly authentic, but is full of Popeye feels. We throw a canful down the hatch as chicken gyoza appears. Gleaming and steaming, these potstickers release a pleasing burst of juicy filling upon contact. Momo sacer.
But these are just distractions from the headlining act. Ramen bowls feature cheery eggs afloat in a milky miso bath, nori perched at a jaunty angle. We inhale deeply and dig in, only to encounter disenchantment. It’s mediocre at best: no complexity to distract from the brackish broth, and a thinness of condiment whose effects vanish in the first few spoonfuls, leaving you with an insipid noodle and more soupiness you can handle. Laksa ramen fares a bit better - the peppery chilli will banish any lingering sinus issues - but not by much.
This is not the ramen house of our dreams by any stretch, but when the bill arrives, we reconsider our friendship with this new babe. At less than Rs. 500 per head, might this Japanese cousin of microwave Maggi be worth closer acquaintance?
Getting There: Look for the Wills Lifestyle Store at 664, 100 Feet Rd, HAL 2nd Stage, Defence Colony, Indiranagar.
Accessibility: Lift to third floor, but no wheelchair access up to the lift or to rooftop.
Sushmita Sundaram writes about funny people, odd things, and anything edible. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.
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