Review: ASILO

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Multi-cuisine Rooftop bar

 

Saket sethi, Shradha setalvad,Safdar Bandukwala raising the bar at ASILO
Saket sethi, Shradha setalvad,Safdar Bandukwala raising the bar at ASILO

Sexily glamorous. Highest in Mumbai (40th floor) Alfresco. Rooftop Bar. These words define Asilo (A-Sea-lo) perfectly. Sure! It serves a full dinner menu too (we ate our way through the menu) but it’s as a bar that it rocks. My foodie guests, architect, businessman and yoga expert, rock too. Dashing and gifted, California educated  Saket Sethi has not only done Salman Khan and other Bollywood offices and homes but also huge corporate projects.

The long legged lovely Shraddha Setalvad has been developing the Yoga Kids in School Program ever since the new Government has mapped yoga back to India.  Friendly, well-travelled foodie businessman Safdar Bandukwala shares his expert views as does another dapper gentleman who prefers to remain anonymous. Our review…

 

 

DECOR

Walk up

the dimly lit stairwell, onto the 40th floor of the Palladium hotel into a charming space sparkling with white and wood, sofas, high tables, dramatic lighting, goodlooking long bar et al.

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FOOD AND DRINK

We ate our way through the menu (Robata grills, use of Josper, an elegant combination of a grill & oven) and came away with mixed reactions. Well made Scallops with Prosciutto

And   Baked Brie with onion marmalade, apple confit and spiced nuts came up tops..

A fun cocktail menu… ask for the El Presidente,   Sandia Picante, Apple Pie-scented Vanilla Sky. with its  mix of vodka, water and cinnamon. El Verde, vodka, midori melon, sweet and sour mix .

 

MINUS POINTS

That dimly lit stairwell, slow service at dinner are downsides. So is the overdone steak, okayish

barbecued Cottage Cheese. A lot of dishes (

Choc Profitroles and Crème Brûlée were not

available.) Oversweet Mango mia too.

MY POINT

Open only in the evenings, this 40th floor sprawling rooftop bar is a project perfectly suited to  restaurateurs  (Jay Singh, Sanjay Mahtani of Shiro, Hard Rock Cafe, CPK, Big Kahuna, ) with a gift for breathing fresh life into familiar genres and for conjuring buzz . Though there is culinary thought in the menu (Robata grill et al) the menu has more misses than hits. But then as I said at the outset, it’s more of a Rooftop bar with great ambiance, crowd and music. It really does raise the bar! Cheers!

 

Rooftop, Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg,

Lower Parel, Ph: 61628000

Timings: – 5.30pm to 1.30am

Cover charge of Rs 2500 per person ( Friday& Saturday after 8pm)

RATING BUZZ 4.5 FOOD 3 SERVICE 3  DECOR 4

 

 

OF FOOD, FILMS AND FRESHNESS

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Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. Here food, films and freshness are sparkling with high-voltage glamour. Whoa! What action there is in these immaculate kitchens of this iconic hotel which has distilled decades of Hollywood glamour! It is not only a legendary landmark but also officially on the  National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Here, the brilliant French chef Thomas Bellec conjures magic and today I have invited our very own Los Angeles based Indian cookbook author Neelam Batra. Interestingly Neelam has cooked before in the very same kitchens for Vijay Amritraj’s Foundation dinner.

CALIFORNIA INDIAN

What happens when a gifted  Indian cookbook author and a brilliant French chef cook in California?  They not only delight in the freshness of the vegetables and produce here, go shopping to Farmers markets themselves but also on request share their fabulous recipes, bursting with freshness and goodness. Having won several awards for her three cookbooks and taught cooking in Los Angeles (which she still does), Neelam Batra has been wowing Californians with her special brand of Neelams californiacuisine and raising the bar.  Happily, Neelam has also been a judge on the prestigious James Beard awards and continues to reign supreme. Having honed his skills around the world under the greatest chefs, Chef Bellec from Brittany in France is how himself on the global gourmet scene. He creates gems of wizardry for the recently introduced high tea which we feast on together with   travel and style writer founder of @stylegroove  pretty woman Carrie Mitchell.  Chef Bellec’s little jewels of savory and sweet delight dazzle as he continues to reinvent and wow.

HOLLYWOOD TO BOLLYWOOD

All this action is taking place in the historic Beverly Wilshire which has not only played host to many a high profile event but

celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in the Hotel. And then ofcourse the  Hotel shot into global fame when 25 years ago it was the the movie Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was shot here. And so the pretty woman turns twenty five. And located on the glamour and fashion drenched Rodeo drive this Pretty woman continues to charm.   Several other movies likeClueless, Sex and the City: The Movie and Valentine’s Day   have also been shot here. I have dined here with Anil kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Gulshan Grover and many others in the Beverly Wilshire. Both Hollywood and Bollywood lives and dines here.

RECIPES FOR FRESHNESS AND GOODNESS

  • Both Chef Bellec and Neelam agree that  freshness of ingredients is the most important  key to a great dish. Author of three award winning cookbooks   1,000
    Indian Recipes ( the most-sold Indian cookbook in the US,) she shares with us her favorite, easy to make versatile recipe using tomatoes. And Chef Bellec generously shares his unique recipe for tomato soup.

 

  NEELAM’S OVEN-DRIED TOMATOES

  • 30 to 40 medium to large cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic or kosher salt
  • Cut each cherry tomato into half from the stem to tip. Put in a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Line a tray with aluminum foil and place  each tomato half,  cut-side up and bake in an oven at 400ºF for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 200ºF and let the tomatoes sit in the oven until they look shriveled and dried, 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.

     SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Allow everything to cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve them on the side with grilled fare or over your favorite crackers, or present them with cheddar cheese on warm toasts, make sandwiches or lightly scatter them atop a simle cumin rice pullao!

THOMAS’ TOMATOES
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb plum-Roma tomatoes
14 oz chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 large fennel bulb chopped coarse (if you don’t have fennel, use saunf)
1 large sweet onion chopped coarse
2 garlic cloves minced
2 spring fresh thyme
1 spring fresh rosemary
2 fresh leave laurel
Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet onion and garlic with no color in olive oil. And fennel and tomato cook of for 5 minutes. Add stock and herbs,cook at slow heat for 30 minutes, blend in food processor strain and seasoning to taste. Enjoy!

PICNIC IN PARADISE

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I write from Paradise. There’s no other word that describes the feeling of being amid lush green nature in the heart of  throbbing, cacophonic Manhattan. And even more tempting in the “Big apple” is the gourmet picnic fare that seduces with it’s masterful flavors and tastes. Each dish unerringly made by the brilliant and exceptionally gifted chef Ashfer Biju.

WHY PICNIC?

I love picnics and ever since my childhood have gone on one at the drop of a hat. But this is my most spectacular and memorable picnic ever. Interestingly, picnics have been a part of history and art and literature too. Did you know that  in 2000, a 600-mile-long picnic took place from coast to coast in France? This was to celebrate the first Bastille Day of the new Millennium. Even here, in the United States, the 4 July celebrate American independence is a popular day for a picnic. In Italy, the favorite picnic day is Easter Monday. The energy and abundance of nature infuses itself into the food and whoa! What amazing chemistry takes place. And when there is a maestro orchestrating the goodies in the picnic basket then even more magic happens.

BIJUS BEJEWELLED BREAKFAST

Kudos to Ashfer Biju, this young Indian chef who has captivated the highly sophisticated tastebuds of New Yorkers. Ofcourse, he has gourmet genes: his father had a highly popular  restaurant in Hyderabad still runs a super restaurant in Malaysia and chef Biju started cooking in his teens.

Not only did this young Executive chef  start off by wining the National Level Young Chef’s Competition, in Mauritius but has continued to be showered by accolades and awards. Nationally and internationally. Having worked in many a Leading Hotel of the world he now heads up the iconic Pierre hotel. Here elegant history and glamor tango with modern high-tech luxury. Not only has it played host to royalty and state heads but many a Hollywood star like Elizabeth Taylor have made it their home for several years. It is here in their cutting edge TwoE that  he has introduced many an amazing flavor palatte. Two e goes classic, Classic reinterpreted and many such spectacular dishes blitz the tastebuds here. And chef Michael Mignano’s dessert menu also dazzles, with it’s sorbet samplers and more. Interestingly, Pierre  also offers Mediterranean vegetable-based dishes, Indian vegetarian, vegan Halal, gluten-free and Kosher meals too.

Through the various menus this brilliant young chef’s passion for traveling and exploring different ethnic cultures, cuisines and people shines through.

His interest in Ayurveda and Medicinal Cooking keeps him evolving amazing recipes too.

 

Chef Biju has an impressive roster of international work, from Kreo-Asian Food Promotion at Hotel Palace, Luzern to

training at “Claridges Hotel”

“Mosimann’s Club” London.

 

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

 

Chef Biju’s  culinary training is rooted in the French and Basque regions. Interestingly, The Pierre has a huge and impressive culinary history. It opened in 1930 serving food in the classic French style, initiated by celebrated Master Chef Escoffier who developed the original menus. That tradition continues. And Chef Biju brings to the table amazing and dazzling flavors and textures. Our picninc basket too overflows with tasty magic…I request for the recipe of the superb buttermilk pancakes and end with the wish “Ma your life be a picnic always”.


 

Silver Dollar Buttermilk Pancakes

Makes 25 tiny pancakes (the size of silver dollars)

2 cups                    refined flour                  sifted

2 tsp               baking powder

1 tsp               baking soda

½ tsp                     salt

2 cups                    buttermilk

2 ea                large eggs               yolks & whites separated

2 tbl sp                  powdered sugar

2 tsp               melted butter

 

¼ tsp                     icing sugar                     for garnish

10 ea                      strawberries                   for garnish

1 cup                     maple syrup                   as accompaniment

1 cup                     chocolate chips                     optional

1 cup                     blue berries                   optional

 

Method of preparation:

 

  • Pre-heat a griddle or a non stick pan to medium high heat, lightly smear with oil (or use pan spray) and wipe off completely. There should not be any residual oil on the pan, but for a light coating

 

  • Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Mix egg yolks and buttermilk together in a separate bowl
  • Prepare a soft meringue by beating egg whites and adding sugar gradually
  • Combine all three mixtures in a large mixing bowl ensuring the mixture is homogeneous using a spatula or a paddle, Do not over mix
  • Add melted butter to the batter

 

  • Pour the batter on to pre-heated griddle (approximately a table spoon full for each pancake)
  • To prepare chocolate chip or blueberry pancake, gently place some toppings on to wet pancake top at this stage
  • Once the pancake starts to bubble on top, turn and cook the other side for about a minute
  • Remove the pancakes from the pan, dust with icing sugar, Serve hot with maple syrup and strawberries

 

Review: SILVER BEACH CAFE

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WORLD CUISINE

So what if the name of this restaurant is not accurate and has nothing to do with the location? This Silver Beach cafe is located in the landlocked cacophonic Fort area. It gets a thumbs up from my well-traveled witty foodie guests. Theyre a bunch of school friends, each one doing brilliantly professionally. It’s a delight to lunch with them and hear all their wisecracks, so I request Neil Ramchandani to describe the experience in his own inimitable spoofy style. Here goes…”Seated at the table are London-based private equity entrepreneur and part-time circus bear, Rohit Dhote; Mumbai-based shipping tycoon-cum-professional wedding dancer, Rishabh Sheth; Chicago based jet-setting consultant and Gujju fashion icon, Romanch Dalal; his younger sister, Saumya (soon-to-be Googler and ruler of the tech universe); and University of Chicago MBA student/maker of exquisite yet unsettling hand gestures, Neil Ramchandani”.

 

DECOR

Walk through the  unassuming exterior into a warm, two-floored inviting space. Sit in the high ceilinged ( exposed wooden beams,) first floor which is bathed in daylight flooding in through the large glass windows.

FOOD

The menu zigzagged  to include a vast array  of dishes which is usually not an encouraging sign. But, happily most of the dishes delight. Pasta  cooked al dente and a cohesive and delicious filling of the Spinach and cheese ravioli to  fish in harissa sauce  with just the right amount of kick to it. Must try the thin crust pizza with sundried tomatoes, olive, and pesto.  The gooey chocolate pizza with marshmallows makes for a sweet finale. However,  the classic pepper and garlic fondue, Argentinean frittomisto (fried calamari), Quessadillas, enchiladas and  Turkish mezze platter  are okayish.

MINUS POINTS

On the downside,  the South African PeriPeri chicken was slushy and lacklustre. As was the molten chocolate cake.

The wait staff was courteous and attentive (our order of roast chicken was not served) but could have shown a better understanding of the menu.

OUR POINT

This charming new, two-leveled Fort cafe serves reasonably priced World cuisine, from breakfast, through fondues to chocolate pizza. Appetizers (Rs. 300,) mains (just under Rs. 500.). Well stocked bar too.  To end in Neil’s words “For these “foreign-returns” who were finding out that an idli from Santosh Sagar costs a dollar these days, the pricing was modest for the service and ambience offered”.

 

SILVER BEACH CAFE 16, Murzban Road, Near Sterling Cinema, Fort,  22037356

Open through the day

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3 DECOR 3.5

 

Review: Mainland China Asia Kitchen TFG

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ORIENTAL (Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese)

There were many questions: Where could  well-traveled foodie businessman and the Consul general of Srilanka get a quick working lunch? Oriental cuisine? Well-priced? Brand brand new in South Mumbai? Heres one answer: Mainland China Asia Kitchen.

Both my guests have plenty in common, a discerning palate, both are born in Srilanka, speak Sinhalese. While, the charming bachelor, Safdar Bandukwala hails from a prominent business family there and is Mumbai based, the vivacious  Saroja Sirisena, is the multi lingual Sri Lankan Consul General here. Interestingly,  Saroja holds an expertise in global nuclear disarmament, cooks brilliantly and speaks fluent French. Safdar travels to the Far East for work and  knows  Oriental cuisine really well.

Both epitomize the Island spirit, are friendly and great fun and we had a great afternoon.

DECOR

Colorful, vibrant  ambiance in this Palladium mall eatery, buzzing

open kitchen et al.

FOOD

This second baby of the Mainland China group serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China  and also  some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Happily, the tasty, crunchy corn cakes, unerringly fried Bekti, robustly spiced  chilly fish are as good as the steamed  plump, moist veg dimsum  and the fragrant Thai curry.

The Feathery Sponge  is drizzled

with luscious sweet caramel to wickedly flavourful effect.

 

MINUS POINTS

Overcooked prawns in Hunan sauce. Soggy sushi, lackluster salad  and   Khaoswey. The one in their Goregaon branch was much better as was the Dynamite tofu and the  satay.

Hard dense chocolate rolls

 

MY POINT

This is the second MCAK, it is  (the first in Goregaon). Both have identical menus The food continues to be  a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers

high-impact flavors (presentation better in Goregaon) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2). I repeat, Anjan Chatterjee’s  Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but  Fun dining.

MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN

Open lunch and dinner

MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN

3RD FLOOR, PALLADIUM, LOWER PAREL.

PH 24964252

Meal for 2: Rs 1000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

An Epic Epicurean odyssey

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A nine-hour dinner that pampered all my senses, teased my intellect and blew my mind. I was seduced by the Australian gastronomic experience.

Recently, Australia “invited the world to dinner” and declared that for this path-breaking occasion, three of its top chefs would be cooking together. I confess, initially, I was skeptical, but sure, I was flattered and thrilled to be invited as one of the 80 (only 80) “global food influencers” by Australia. I was going to be in fabulous company…superstar chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Alice Waters, Matt Preston, Maggie Beer, writers like AA Gill and many others. It was not a dinner, but an epic that is best explained

in chapters.

Chapter 1: A 15-MILE-LONG DINNER

We begin ‘the’ day on a sunny, windswept pier in Hobart, Tasmania, with the finest and fleshiest oysters pulled fresh from the ocean, complemented by House of Arras sparkling wines and a live orchestra. We are then ushered onto speedboats, zipping through bracing icy winds to a picturesque rocky island dotted by fire pits and pink flowers.

CHAPTER 2: ON AN ISLAND

We are now on the island, at Ben Shewry’s restaurant, Attica, coddled in the warmth of soft blankets, as we devour the freshest of seafood being grilled by Australia’s greatest chefs—Neil Perry, Ben Shewry and Peter Gilmore.

Amidst fire pits and indigenous storytellers, the three head chefs of Restaurant Australia treat the guests to the first of many creative courses—King George whiting in paperbark and grilled baby corn with forest anise from Ben Shewry; Peter Gilmore’s charcoal-grilled West Australian marron with wasabi butter and roasted wallaby tail broth; wood-roast Tasmanian lobster with kombu butter and charcoal-grilled Tasmanian abalone with liver, sake and mirin dressing by Neil Perry. They were all complemented by outstanding Australian vintage sparkling bruts.

CHAPTER 3: DINING IN THE MUSEUM

We then sail across in a huge boat to the iconic Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and fireworks light up the sky as we climb up the fortress. MONA, which sprawls across eight acres, is also home to a winery, brewery, restaurants, luxury accommodation and much more.

Here, the main courses are served on a gargantuan snake-shaped table. We are seduced by amazing flavours and textures of the freshest produce (be it beef, seafood or kangaroo). At MONA, the three chefs blurred the lines of cooking and art, each presenting a unique course

served with six matching Australian wines. Ben Shewry presented salted South Australian red kangaroo and bunya bunya; Peter Gilmore prepared a dish of smoked and confit pig jowl, black lipped abalone, koji, fermented grains, shitake and seaweed; Neil Perry served grilled sirloin, braised cheek, oxtail and tea- smoked oyster red curry.

CHAPTER 4: ROVING SWEET AND STICKY CELEBRATION

After non-stop eating, as we walk down to a lower floor of the museum for the dessert course, we see bird nests on mock trees, each with sweet white eggs. Here Ben Shewry sits behind his ice-cream cart and serves us dollops of seduction—his famous Blue Wren eggs. Peter Gilmore serves fresh lychee, vanilla, rose, coconut prune, salted caramel, jersey cream; while Neil Perry’s date tart mango, pandan and coconut thrills us. We also sample the first raw milk blue cheese to be produced in Australia, King Saul by South Australian cheese makers, Udder delights. The experience was rounded off with a decadent cheese board, which is produced by Bruny Island Cheese Company and Holy Goat.

A dinner that spanned nine hours, sure it was epic!

MY FOODIE BLIND DATE IN NYC

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My idea of Columbus-fun? Straight   from JFK (after a 24 hour journey) to a foodie blind date in Manhattan. All thanks to twitter and instagram. We meet at the moderately priced,Cookshop (10th Ave) and enjoy their robust and delicious meatballs, fish and chips fare (plenty for veggies) as we do the sensational desserts. It’s a treat to meet each one :“Mihir never sleeps Pathare”, user experience designer and home chef,  Renate Aller, well-known artist, Elaine Goldman, art collector and Phiroza Kothavala hotelier extraordinaire. The exceptionally gifted Chef Ashfer Biju of the iconic Pierre is the only one who Ive met before. We have a super-rollicking time, eating, tweeting, eating.  Please instagram, tweet (@rashmiudaysingh) and mail (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com)  your Value for money NYC recommendations … so that in the land of Columbus I can continue to discover and feel like Columbus too!

Review: EXO

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Nightclub

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA ARJUN, MIA AND ZAI AT EXO
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA ARJUN, MIA AND ZAI AT EXO

Coming soon: The Times Nightlife Guide 2015. Ive been researching and writing these annual nightlife guides for over a decade. This inspite of the fact that I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person. So, every year, I stay awake through many a night and do several night life rounds with Mumbai’s young party-birds who guide me.We pop in unanounced into   the city’s nightclubs, discotheques and lounges checking out the buzz, music and ambiance. This time two gorgeous San Francisco based sisters, who redefine  “beauty with brains” sparkled my night as we not only checked out Exo, but also celebrated their  father, Arjun Divecha’s birthday. He is not only a high-flying global investor but also a discerning globe-trotting foodie and co-owner of the legendary Froghollow farm. Stanford graduate, PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, vivacious Mia  is  a foodie, and world traveler. Vibrant Zai, metalworker and designer’s handcrafted furniture and home goods business is all set to take off in SanFrancisco. They not only thought that Exo is world class but we also had a fun time (see photo).

 We loved the stunning view from the sexily glamorous, Exo. It  pulsates and rocks on the 37th level of the Palladium hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows, Ossler chandeliers, leather upholstery and foot-tapping music by Exo’s resident DJ Madoc are some of the key highlights of this twofloored nightclub.Rishi Acharya’s haute spot also plays host to some of the most popular guest DJs specializing in different genres of music.  A few weeks ago, I had also popped in here for a sundowner only to find it packed and throbbing with the uber stylish guests.This time, we nibbled on their okayish snacks (they were from the Pan Asian Mekong Kitchen, next door).Guzzled on  the premium booze ( Do ask for their signature cocktails, Spectrum and GQ.) Arjun cut the birthday cake (swiftly and thoughtfully served up by Exo staff) we danced as the music pumped up and left to check out two other nightplaces. But not before concluding that Exo lived up to it’s name… The word “Exo” comes from “exosphere” suggesting height and an out of the ordinary experience.

Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Ph: 61628000

Open from 18.00 hrs to 03.00 hrs Thursday through Saturday
18.00 hrs to 01.30 hrs Wednesday and Sunday. Cover charge: Rs 5000 per couple (on weekends)

DÉCOR 4 BUZZ 4 Nightout for 2: Rs 8000

Review: SAIZEN

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Japanese

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Jai Ho Japanese! While my favourite “Narisawa” (Tokyo) continues to reign supreme as Asia’s best, Aamchi Mumbai has adapted to this cuisine surprisingly well too. From the Northern end, especially Bandra (Kofuku, Aoi) to the dagger-shaped southern tip. Here Taj’s Wasabi has been holding it’s own past ten years, Tetsuma came along to stake a claim but  gave way to the Mediteranean Pier. Now once again (four months ago)  a Japanese  restaurant reared its head in Colaba, And that too with an elaborate menu. So I do an elaborate check out, eat here twice. Once for lunch ( Rs 5000 for 2) ,  and then again with a foodie family ( I pay around Rs 20,000).

Bela & Micky Dalal– affable, well-travelled foodies, lovers of the simplicity & sereneity of their rustic Alibag home along with their dapper  sons and  the lovely Nishita Murarka dine and opine for me.

New age entrepreneur Rohan Dalal’s unique subscription based home delivery service that provides medicinal, nutritional and daily care products across greater Mumbai is in huge demand.

Talented and handsome Jay Dalal,  works at one of India’s premier consultancies plans to venture into the digital market and as DJ continues to  rock his New York tunes across town.

Dedicated to fitness (Bela – yoga & fitness enthusiast) the whole family are dyed in the drool foodies and we systematically eat our way through the menu.

 

DECOR

Walk into Colaba’s latest Japanese restaurant and be charmed by its rich yet understated elegance. Copper lattice-work columns, Italian chandeliers, opulent leather and suede sofas with chrome-and-wood tables and the textured stonework sushi and cocktail bar. Dramatic bright lighting and a birdcage table at one corner makes for a perfect setting for the food that follows.

FOOD

“To die for” sushi “Oh my God sushi” …sounds gimmicky but most of it is actually all about innovative drama. Rolls set on fire, buried under heaps of crushed tempura, spider rolls, others that look like a caterpillar and so on. Through it all, they retain their texture and

flavour and play to popular tastes with cream cheese, mayo, et al.  James Biaka consultant chef here (ex Tetsuma and now Kofuku, Hengbok) ensures there is succulent pork belly,  Buta-No-Shogakaki sliced pork intensely flavoured with ginger and soya sauce on the menu. Looking for a more expensive

experience? Ask for the superb Miso Black Cod.  Plenty for vegetarians…flavourful Mushroom Rice(Hot Pot Rice with Bop Sauce)Edamame Dip, Veg Kimchi Soup, Quinoa Salad and Avocado Dragon Roll. End with the Vanilla Panna Cotta and Butterscotch with the perfect kiss of sweetness.

MINUS POINTS

In an effort to bend over backwards to please all palates, some of the sushi rolls tip over into too much of a crunchy, saucy mish mash. Baked sushi roll,

Mountain Crunchy Roll being cases in point.  Lacklustre, over-cooked Wasabi Chicken, over-salted Tofu Grilled Asparagus and thick-skinned Mochi dessert. The “chefs specials”  have small portions and high prices (Rs 2000 and more per dish).

 

MY POINT

Traditional as well as fusion Japanese fare served in  the dynamic and lovely Agarwal sister’s Saizen ( means ‘best’ in Japanese)   Interestingly, this restaurant has two price structures while the sushi (`450–600) and many of the dishes are affordably priced, the Chef’s Specials like the Black Cod Miso are priced at over `2,000 each.

Vegetarians and Jains are very well taken care  (quinoa salad, plenty of sushi et al)

By bringing inventive cooking and a few high-end grace notes  Saizen answers the desires of a generation of savvy, adventurous diners (also vegetarians and Jains)  looking for affordable, accessible Japanese fare.

■ 41/42, Minoo Desai Marg, Behind Radio Club, Colaba, Mumbai, Ph: 65081100

Noon to 3pm, 7pm to 11.45pm

Food-4.00 | Service-3.50 | Decor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`4000-8000

 

BOX

YOUR INSTAGRAM & TWITTER RESPONSES

Wow! Thanks for your reponses, i have incorporated them in my review.  @garimaaj @duhitachadha

@pranavjaveri @sakshkay @faizamomin

@jaipuriphotography @romilratra

@jigarparmar and many others. Sorry cant include all names here but value each one’s views. Keep them coming please!