There’s something special about being on the road on your own. Watching the road whiz away beneath your wheels with the beautiful Goan landscape of green hills and tall coconut trees in the backdrop.
On the last such weekend getaway, I visited one of my most favourite places in Goa; Sakana, the Japanese restaurant at Chapora, very close to Vagator Beach. The first time I went there, I could hardly believe such a place existed, just on the main road of Goa. Well lit with warm yellow lights, tastefully and simply decorated with myriad Japanese memorabilia, you have to see it to believe it. There is a Sakura tree, with pink flowers and lights adorning its upper branches. It hardly seems possible that it has been made out of plywood and painted over. There are pictures of sake, Asahi beer and Japanese ladies in kimonos on the wall. You literally step into another world.
I sat down and waited. A blonde girl came to take my order. From her accented English, I knew she was French. I asked her which place in France she was from. I always enjoy the look of surprise on people’s faces when they wonder how I know which country they are from (usually accurate 90% of the time, of course French is easy, some other European languages are much harder), hearing their stories about how they ended up working in Goa while backpacking or on vacation.
She gave me the menu, but I already knew my order. Kingfish with rice and miso soup. I tried a different kind of salad with shitake mushrooms and noodles.
And of course, the dessert, which is one of the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world. Passion fruit chocolate tart. Eat it to believe it and know that there is a God (it sends you to heaven). You will find religion after eating this sumptuous, scrumptious dish.
I had a Japanese green tea while waiting for the food to come. I looked around while sipping on the hot drink. There were many people, busily chatting away with friends and family. There was a Russian family, with small kids (around 5-6 years old) running around. The Russian kids were playing some kind of hide and seek game, and their worried parents would shout (“Idzisuda!” – Come here!) whenever they ran out of sight or towards the road.
Sakana (which means fish in Japanese) is owned by a sweet Japanese lady and her Israeli (to be confirmed) husband, Niko. Both are
very nice and warm people. I make it a point to talk to the Japanese lady on each visit. She is always happy to converse in Japanese, and I am happy for the opportunity to catch up. Though she was busy in the kitchen, the Japanese lady came out for a smoke, and I said hello. We talked for a bit about how the restaurant was doing and then she rushed back to the kitchen to attend orders. I caught up with Niko later at the bar, before leaving.
The food was fantastic, as always. The bill came in a cute little wooden box.
I also took a picture of the menu, which had a picture of a fish and Irashaimase (“Welcome”) written on it.
The restaurant is on the main road, and open from 12.30 pm to around 11pm. Definitely visit when you are in Goa. Keep in mind that the dishes are slightly expensive (around Rs. 200-500 for main course) but the ambiance and experience are totally worth it.