June 23, 2009 / 6:06 AM / 10 years ago

Bangalore restaurants offer expats a taste of home

BANGALORE (Reuters Life!) - Fancy sushi or kimchi? How about some central Asian kebabs or borsch? Many foreigners in India’s information technology capital Bangalore now find it easier to get a taste of home.

With a burgeoning population of resident foreigners, several restaurants, run by expatriates, have recently opened in the city to sate the appetite of the homesick.

“Our restaurant is especially popular during Korean festivals and when it’s a Korean person’s birthday,” says Eam Hie Yong, the Korean owner of Korean restaurant Soo Ra Sang.

Eam, who came to Bangalore to do a doctoral degree, estimates the Korean community in the city to number around 1,000.

Besides serving the pickled and peppered cabbage that is kimchi, traditional noodle soups and an array of grilled food — with all the necessary side dishes — Soo Ra Sang also has a karaoke bar, where a mix of students, missionaries and businessmen belt out popular Korean and Western songs.

“I love the spicy biriyanis you get in Bangalore but it’s hard to go without Korean food for long,” says Kim Min Jung, a yoga student from Busan and a regular customer.

For Bangalore resident Tatiana Shahmatova, Rolls United Cafe is the place to go, and take Indian friends, for a taste of her home country Russia.

“Bangaloreans don’t know how diverse Russian cuisine actually is,” says Shahmatova, who works as a technical writer in a multinational company. “For me, it’s nice to occasionally get a taste of home, living 5,000 kilometres away.”

Elena Bannerjee, who hails from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, runs Rolls United Cafe. She says the restaurant caters to the Bangalore’s growing appetite for foreign cuisines, but admits that it’s the Russians residents — and the Indians who studied in Russia — that keep her in business.

“A large section of our clientele are home-sick Russians who craving for blinis, Russian salads and pelmenis,” says Bannerjee, who is married to an Indian.

In addition to the pelmenis, or steamed meat dumplings, the restaurant also serves central Asian specialties such as shashlik, skewered lamb kebabs, and golubsti, or cabbage rolls.

Harima, a restaurant owned by Osaka-native Hiroshi Sujimoto, is the popular haunt of the city’s Japanese business community.

The restaurant, which has a tatami room, serves traditional food such as fermented soybeans to go with the sake, ramen noodles, sushi, tempura and miso soup.

Sayaka Natsui, a freelance writer who has been living in Bangalore for over three years, says she often brings visiting friends and relatives to the restaurant.

She believes the familiar taste and presentation of the food along with the Japanese-style interiors, tend to calm her guests and offer a respite from the chaos outside.

“I am so used to the sounds, smells and color of India that I couldn’t live without it... but when friends visit, the culture shock can be overbearing,” Natsui says.

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