Japanese cuisine, also known as ‘washoku’, is full of precision and discipline. Though it has been majorly influenced by other food customs, it has managed to build its own identity. The Japanese have developed their own exclusive cooking styles and also eating habits. Time-saving cooking methods have been adopted from the west, which are widely accepted in all parts of Japan; these include instant ramen noodles, instant miso, pickling mixes as well as an electric rice cooker. The Japanese take their produce very seriously, they believe in using fresh ingredients while preparing a meal. They also like making their food plate look beautiful, hence they believe in the concept of arranging their food properly. Its popularity has increased over the years and its flavours have travelled across the globe. Here are the top five places in India where one can indulge in the best of Japanese cuisine.
The Leela Palace Hotel, Chanakyapuri, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi
Meal for two: Rs10,000 plus taxes without alcohol
A combination of contemporary design with roots from early Japanese culture, Megu looks remarkable featuring a signature crystal Buddha raised over a pool of water with a Japanese bonsho bell suspended from the ceiling. The 800lb bell represents the traditional Japanese handiwork in the Todaiji temple in Nara, Japan. Each dish is served in a precisely envisioned handcrafted plate or bowl inspired by the dish itself. It is the first and the only restaurant to offer sparkling sake, each available by either carafe or bottle. On offer is an impressive wine list of nearly 300 labels including some of the world’s best labels like Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Richebourg, Petrus, La Tache and Dom Enotheque that perfectly complement the culinary odyssey! “It has been a very exciting and challenging journey so far. It is challenging because you have to cater to a large vegetarian audience which also makes it exciting at the same time, as it motivates to do something new and interesting. It is truly a prestigious reward when these guests visit again and again with more of their friends and family,” says Shimomura Kazuya, head chef, Megu.
* Shira Ae, tofu, spinach, bubu arare, sesame sauce
* Crispy Asparagus, asparagus coated with kakinotane
* Spicy Baked Eel, Tobiko, Mayonnaise
* Grilled Rock Lobster, Garlic, Butter, Citrus, Oba Leaf, Scallions
* 24 Hours Braised Pork Belly, Kakuni Sauce
* Sashimi, sushi and House special rolls
The St Regis Mumbai 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Meal for two: Rs8,000 plus taxes without alcohol
The restaurant has minimalist décor and assertions of Portoro marble, high gloss mirrors interplayed with Japanese brocade to form a reviewed origami pattern. The space is focused around the black and gold reef enthused wall watching the shared Sushi Bar where chefs handroll fresh sushi to the pleasure of all guests. Creativity of chef Ting Yen with the touch of Nikkei style cuisine put together with years of experience in Japanese cuisine with a contemporary touch makes Yuuka stand out from the others. Salmon on fire is a trendy style, and this exclusive eatery was the first in India to get the practice locked down, and their mastery of flavour, top-notch service and a princely sake list, keeps the distinctive occasion crowd coming back.
* Salmon on fire, Yuzu, and Kabayaki marination, served over flaming coffee beans.
* Tiger tear maki, traditional uramaki with a touch of Indian flavour avocado tartare and kewpie mayo.
* Shiro miso, pacific black cod, sweet shiro miso sauce and hajikame.
* Peruvian truffle seabass steamed and grilled marinated in truffle salt and truffle oil and served with truffle garlic white sauce and freshly shaved truffle.
* 40-layer green tea cake, tamago style crepes layered with matcha cream.
Palm Spring Plaza, Golf Course Road, DLF Phase 5, Sector 54, Gurugram, Haryana
Meal for two: Rs2,500
Elegant, warm and welcoming along with a few tatami rooms (private dining), Ebisu offers classic Japanese cuisine. In addition to their top-tier sushi, expect to find a delightful feast of sashimi, mouth-watering tonkatsu and a stunning grilled aubergine glazed with a sweet miso sauce. The kitchen serves a nice assortment of crispy fried tempura, a scrumptious katsu curry, hot udon noodles in a well-balanced broth, sticky rice and an irresistible miso soup. The overall meal experience is outstanding, as each dish is exceptional in its own way and will not leave you disappointed. The service is tremendously warm and friendly and makes the dining experience worthwhile. Head chef Hisayuki Nishioka, previously head Japanese chef at Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is a decorated Japanese chef with over 25 years of experience in authentic Japanese cooking.
* Nigiri Jyushu Moriawase, Sushi
* Maguro Carpaccio, Tuna salad
* Yaki Gyoza, pork dumplings
* Tonpei yaki, Japanese style stuffed omelette
* Buta Stamina yaki, quick cooked pork with garlic
* Una Ju, rice and eel bowl
Worldmark 1, G-02, Aerocity, New Delhi
Meal for two: Rs2,200 +taxes
Kampai is one of the few stand-alone contemporary Japanese restaurants in Delhi. With a consulting Japanese chef, it boasts of a 65 per cent Japanese clientele. The interiors will transport you to Japan, with its cherry blossom ceiling, tatami style private dining rooms and a unique projection of the skyline of Tokyo. There are two private dining rooms, which are traditional Japanese style tatami rooms that can accommodate up to 12 people each. Some tables are placed directly under a ceiling of sakura flowers, which are in bloom throughout the year! There are tables that are tucked inside unique drapes to give you privacy, and there are regular tables on the main floor along with bar seating. There is also a serene outdoor area which is designed like a Japanese Zen garden. Patrons get to experience this beautiful cuisine which is way beyond just Sushi and Tempura along with some delicious cocktails in a cosy and relaxing ambience.
* Tofu miso soup
* Tantan men ramen Tahini and shrimp broth with minced chicken, bok choy, leeks and spring onion
* Tori no karaage karaage style fried chicken
* Maguro katsu maki sushi roll signature sushi. Panko fried roll stuffed with cheddar cheese and topped with chopped tuna
* Horenso No Goma-ae Salad, spinach salad with a toasted sesame dressing
* Three mushroom gyoza pan-fried Japanese dumplings with three varieties of mushrooms, cheese and hint of truffle oil
The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa, Delhi
Meal for two: Rs3,000+taxes
Sakura is India’s first Japanese eatery. This award-winning fine-dining restaurant with its three elegant private dining rooms offers the best of Japanese cuisine. The vital manifestation of flavour is the emphasis here. The window blinds are deliberately designed to look like interior accents common to most houses in Japan. The stone floor and the colour found on the walls suggest soothing, natural elements that draw stimulus from the earth. The rich fabrics and chief grade wood furniture gives the restaurant a current and warm look, but also upholds the equilibrium between tradition and avant-gardism.
* Buta shoga yaki, ginger pork
* Asparagus tempura roll
* Ebiten temaki, fried shrimp sushi
* Salmon steak
* Yaki soba, classic stir fry noodles