Tag Archives: Japanese

Japan Just Got Closer Home

Sushi and More 9

A decade or ago, I was not such a fan of Japanese food and although I was exposed to this cuisine during my years in London, I was always reluctant to try it. Gradually I overcame this skepticism and became adventurous. And voila! I discovered I took to Sushi instantly.   Ironically, it was time to move out of London. Back home in Mumbai, it was only a few five star hotels that served Sushi at that time and naturally it was quite expensive.

Fortunately for me, in 2009 came a place called Sushi and More, started by Maido India. A premier take away and home delivery joint in South Mumbai, authentic and affordable Japanese food has been their mantra. Whenever I’d be that side I would always pick up some of my favourite selection of sushi. However, living in the Western suburbs, I’d always lament the absence of such a place closer home.

Naturally then, I was overjoyed when I discovered that Sushi and More was now going to deliver in Juhu and Andheri too as it has a state-of-the-art-kitchen in Juhu as well now.

A neatly packed box with Veg sushi, wasabi, soy sauce and gari, chop sticks et al in different compartments of the box arrived and another with non-vegetarian options. Tuna nigiri, California roll, spicy salmon roll,crabmeat gunkan, classic cucumber roll, tomato and cheese nigiri, bell pepper nigiri. Oh! there was so much to choose from.

Each sushi was almost like poetry on plate. In Japan, it’s believed that the dining experience starts first with the eyes. Mine certainly was.

The crab meat gunkan  was buttery soft and simply melt in my mouth. My palate was enveloped with pleasing flavours. This one was a sure shot winner.

I somehow have a weakness for the  sushi maki roll and cannot help marvelling the finesse with which chefs create these. This one was no different. Meticulously packed and pressed and bursting with fresh ingredients.  Freshness is key to a good sushi and this one scored high on this front. The vinagared edge was there but without being overpowering.

The California roll is my all time favourite and I simply devoured the ones from Sushi and More. Each piece offered a crunch, some creamy textures and a myriad flavours.

The quality of the ingredients used, their authenticity and value-for-money are unquestionable. It is the best you can get in the city.

Their menu does not just stop at sushi. They have a plethora of choices, including Bento Boxes, Gyoza, Yakitori,Tempura, Soups and Salads, created for every kind of discerning palate, including offerings like Super Prawn Tempura Sushi roll for sea-food lovers.

What’s more, they have a large selection for vegetarians too.

 

Satiated after a filling meal of an array of sushi, I am already planning my next order from Sushi and More.

Rating : 4.5/5

Delivering from :

Juhu to Andheri Lokhandwala – +91-7045909448 or +91-9930937285
Prabhadevi to Worli – +91-8691980673 or +91-8691980873
Tardeo to Colaba – +91-7506100886 or +91-7506100887

They also deliver Via: Scootsy, Swiggy & Zomato

Pleasing my Palate in Pune

My foodie trails take me to several places and recently I found myself at Double Tree by Hilton, Pune, a hotel located in Pimpri-Chinchwad away from the hustle-bustle and yet, with all basic necessities a stone’s throw away.

The gourmand in me beamed with pleasure as a large, warm, chocolate chip cookie was handed over to me at the time of check-in. That is a Hilton tradition. The warm cookie was comforting after my journey and simply melt-in-my-mouth.

20170722_125951

3 Spices, the vibrant all-day dining place at the lobby level impressed me. It exudes an air of bonhomie and comfort. The cheerful and warm staff settled us in and we looked around the buffet spread for lunch. There was no run-of-the-mill stuff here. Food from around the world – Indian, Pan Asian, Global- something for every palate.  And attractively displayed. The bar at the entrance is well-stocked and the bartenders adeptly mix cocktails of your choice.

There was a live chaat counter too. Just perfect for this weather to perk up my taste buds.

20170722_130223

The roasted chicken with rosemary jus, the mangshor jhol or quintessential Bengali mutton curry with birasta pulao, struck me as outstanding. The bhakris, chicken in khada masala and stuffed okra that chef specially made for us to give us a taste of the local flavours took my taste buds by storm. The flavours were distinct and no where did spices overpower the ingredients.

The Pan Asian fare was equally well-made sans any additives and preservatives.

The a la carte menu here is exhaustive and boasts of everything from curry laksa and classic caesar salad to penne pasta genovese and chicken tikka pizza. The 6 seeti ka mutton and Kerala Pomfrt curry from the regional specialities are a must-try.

IMG_20170722_130121 (2)

The desserts were equally unusual. The beetroot halwa, Um ali- the Egyptian bread pudding, caught my fancy and both of them surpassed my expectations. The creamy texture of both desserts wowed my palate.

The varied fare at this buffet with unusual delicacies, certainly sets it apart from many others.

IMG_20170722_125813

Although for dinner, 3 Spices had an Awadhi food promotion, which looked immensely tempting, I decided to skip it as Miyuki, the small and cosy Japanese restaurant behind 3 Spices, beckoned me. Chef Nirmal’s work at the Teppanyaki griddle, mesmerised me as he treated us to an exotic meal complete with salads, sushi, sashimi, fried rice with chicken teriyaki and of course dessert. The flavours were simple and subtle, in keeping with Japanese cuisine and the ingredients fresh. The Sashimi particularly stood out for me in the entire meal.

20170722_220249

20170722_212637

The service staff at all the F& B outlets is impeccable. Well-trained, courteous and most importantly well-informed.

My breakfast next morning was an enjoyable experience again. The live counters with eggs and waffles were fun to watch as chefs adroitly dished out waffles and eggs for diners a la minute. The ‘Kadak chai’ tapri or stall served piping hot masala tea, in keeping with the culture of Pune.

IMG_20170723_092924

Cereals, Pan Asian dishes, fruits, South Indian fare, bakery items. There truly was a lot to choose from. The array of fresh juices- mixed, watermelon, orange, carrot and ginger in glass bottles impressed me beyond words.

Chef Joy who is at the helm and his team of talented chefs ensure that the F&B offerings are unique and monotony never sets in for a long staying guest. They constantly endeavour to create new dining experiences for guests.  The attentive and affable waiting staff executes this to perfection and together, they contribute to a memorable dining experience for the guest.

20170722_130444

Tarta, the tiny and attractive bakery and patisserie in the lobby is hard-to-miss. Fresh breads, pastries and cakes galore, are on display and irresistible.

I have stayed at many hotels in India and abroad, but the F&B offerings here at Double Tree by Hilton Pune, Chinchwad are something I will long cherish and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruka: Ravishingly Japanese

Ramee Guestline Hotel Juhu, is suddenly a hotspot, courtesy the newly opened luxury Japanese Restaurant, Ruka. The name of a bright blue flower in Japanese, this restaurant by the same name, too seems to have brightened up this property.

 

The sophisticated and elegant decor in dark colours, enhances the ambience of this chic, but warm restaurant. Guests can choose  to sit at the casual bar area,  or an intimate dining area or even opt to sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs at work.

Chef Masato Toida at Ruka's Sushi Bar

Chef Masato Toida from Japan and his team have clearly transformed this place. In command, Chef Toida comes with 43 years of experience and is a complete master  of the art of Kaiseki, which is the detailed and beautiful presentation of a multicourse Japanese meal.

Indeed, I was blown away at the neat and intricate sushi and sashimi platters he laid out for us. These tasted as good as they looked, or perhaps even better. One of the most varied Vegetarian sushi platters, I have ever come across.  Papaya, capsicum, tofu, radish, were some of the ingredients adeptly used in the sushi. My other favourites were Avocado Nigiri, Unagi Nigiri and Temari Sushi.

Nigri Sushi Platter 2

Of course I am always partial to a Tuna sashimi and this one was an absolute treat. Slicing creates texture and if the slices are of different widths, the texture of each slice will be different. This one was done with complete precision.

Tuna Sashimi

The crispy prawn tempura rolls wowed my palate. The amalgamation of multiple textures made this dish exciting. The smooth outer covering followed by the crispy layer and the melt in the mouth prawns seated within, were delectable. Mastery at its best. The rock shrimp tempura in contrast seemed a trifle ordinary today.

Each dish struck me as poetry on plate and painstakingly created by the chefs. The ingredients were fresh which is the key to any cuisine, especially Japanese cuisine.

The Mushroom Hot Pot rice was served traditionally in the pot in which it is cooked. The aromas wafted in the air and filled my nostrils as the lid was removed. Comforting subtle flavours of the  truffle oil, miso and exotic mushrooms enveloped my taste buds. The soft, warm and almost mushy rice melt in my mouth. This was easily the piece de resistance this evening.

Seasonal Mixed Salad

The food menu  at Ruka offers a compilation of unique yet traditional specialties. On the menu are signature dishes like Saikyo Miso Marinated Cod, Roasted Lobster with Shiso & Ponzu Butter, Rice Hotpot with Grilled Chilean Seabass, and Scallop Gunkan.

For those who enjoy their drinks. There is a lot to choose from as well. A range of stylish signature molecular cocktails showcasing elements of science and art with the use of gels, air foaming, dehydration, and layering with tools like vacuum sealers, blow torches, nitrogen guns, are what the bartenders will enthrall you with.

Omakase Dessert Platter 2

What do I say about the coconut custard that I rounded off my meal with? It was love at first sight as I saw the foamy dessert with fruits and a layer of custard right below, placed before me. Creamy, sweet and light, it was an absolute surprise for my palate.

Ruka is bound to redefine Japanese cuisine in Mumbai. Light, simple flavours, characteristic of Japanese food, artful presentation and well-informed service staff. Dining at Ruka is  indeed a pleasure.

The only place of its kind in the Western suburbs, Ruka is certainly going to ensue that Juhu is a much sought after address from now.

Rating : 4.5/5

 

Delicate Dumplings and Robust Chinese Breads: Mamagoto

My favourite Pan Asian cuisine restaurant, Mamagoto has a whole new menu with Dumplings & Chinese Breads. A lethal combination really, considering I love both.

Hearty comfort food with varied ingredients, textures and flavours, is yet again the hallmark of this new carefully crafted menu. There is a lot of variety and some of the offerings are unusual and relatively unknown. The vegetarian options too are plenty.

Jungle Shrimp Dumpling

Jungle dumpling, with a green coloured covering made of potato starch et al, arrived on our table. Soft and spongy, the dumpling melt in our mouth. The shrimps were soft and made for a great filling. Our taste buds really came alive. There is a vegetarian version of this too.

One can never go wrong with a Gyoza  or pot stickers as they are popularly known. The Old school gyoza proved us right. The chicken dumpling was light and had a flavoursome filling. Served with momo sauce, the right amount of zing was imparted to this dumpling. I specially love their thin covering and marvel how chefs keep it intact despite the generous filling.

My palate was sufficiently tingled with these two dumplings and I was looking forward to the rest, as Chef informed me there were 8-9 varieties to follow.

20150504_205357

To break the monotony, Chef sent us the Cheesy Veggie Bun. Steamed to perfection, this one reminded me of the ones I had eaten in the Chinese Market in Calcutta for breakfast quite often. The filling was a treat- stir fried pak choi, pine nuts, spices and cheese. The creamy cheese complimented the crunchy pine nuts. Pak choi added a unique flavour to it, making it an innovative fun bun. But yes, wholesome too.

The traditional Peking dumpling was something I was waiting for. Simple, with no fuss, this one was a delight. The chicken filling was tasty, but unpretentious. Dipping it in vinegar, soy and red chilies gave it a bit of a boost, although it was wholesome and delicious on its own too.

Chinese Chicken puffs were heavy in texture. Literally too. Minced chicken wok tossed in a 5 spice aroma and baked into a puff. Although well made, I think I preferred the good ol’ lighter dumplings. What struck me was how each dumpling was distinctly different from the other in appearance, flavour and texture. Full marks to the chef.

IMG_8212

The Tokyo Metro Mantou aka Chinese bread with aubergine for veggies and chicken for the carnivores, deserves a special mention. I have had nothing quite like this one ever before. Innovation at its best. The crumb crusted aubergines were a class apart. The typical slimy texture of aubergine had been so well masked and yet, the flavours were intact. Of course the chicken version was naturally better, although less innovative, I must admit.

I loved the way the menu was an amalgamation of classics and yet, the chef had added his own contemporary twist to these. Indeed laudable.

Each item on the menu was more unique than the previous one. There was a storm in my taste buds, as I relished a medley of flavours and textures.

The Grand Finale to the meal I was told, was the the seasonal Mango Coconut Sago Pudding.But alas! I was a bit disappointed. The sago was too tough, a bit undone. Should have been soaked a bit more perhaps? That took away the flavour and taste of the dessert. The mangoes on top too were not overtly sweet and so the dessert proved to be a bit of a dampner.

20150504_212232

But we were not complaining as our taste buds had been treated well with the dumplings and Chinese breads. I wanted that memory to linger longer in my taste buds.

Affordably priced, given the exotic fresh ingredients, used, this menu too is value for money. If these lil “pick me ups” or dim sums are what you enjoy, this new menu is just what you may be looking for.

Rating: 3.5/5

Delhi’s Guppy Now In Mumbai

It is always a delight to dine at the Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mahalaxmi. Even more so, because it reinvents itself each year, by having a new pop up. First it was the lip-smacking Greek food with Thalassa and the vivacious owner-chef Mariketty Grana and now it is Guppy by Ai, with Japanese fusion cuisine from a popular Delhi based Olive brand restaurant. What particularly appeals to me is how the entire decor is changed and the place transforms itself according to the cuisine being served. Kudos!

 

Interior Shot - 01

There was an exhaustive a la carte menu and a drinks menu, but we decided to skip that and settle for the fixed menu. Less confusing and it offered a great deal of variety too. I opted for a Miso soup( can never resist that) and it was flavourful. as always. Comforting and gentle on the palate. The Mushroom suimono- clear soup with mushrooms was equally delightful. The vegetarian sushi always surprises me and it did here too. It was well rolled, filled to perfection and boasted of authentic flavours. The wasabi, horseradish and soya completed the experience. The non vegetarian sushi of the day was with tuna and was lip-smacking of course.

But what took me by surprise was the salad. Perked my taste buds instantly. The tangy flavour and crunchy texture were married perfectly. Full marks here. The service was prompt, the ambience, vibrant, yet relaxing. 20140810_140503

20140810_140446

Flat udon noodles with mushrooms and chicken arrived next. The fragrant garlic sticky rice enticed me from the bowl itself. My jumbo prawns and the chicken teriyaki complimented these as if they were made for each other. We relished each morsel. A plethora of flavours burst open in our mouth, yet, not overpowering. The prawns were fresh and succulent and the crispy layer on the chicken, imparted an interesting texture to the dish. We were satiated.

The dessert platter with teeny-weeny cakes, was a tad disappointing. Bite sized to the extent that the flavours were non existent on the palate. Maybe serving one or two items, but of a bigger size maybe a better idea? The herbal green tea to round off such a delicious meal, made us feel less guilty. A good inclusion in the menu.

20140810_142755

Tapping your feet to the lively music, enjoying your food and the ambience is all a part of being at Guppy pop up. It is a dining pleasure, you will not want to miss. So make the most of it while it is there.