Magnificient Massage of the Senses

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PAUL JONES AND DHARSHAN MUNIDASA (STANDING CHEF YUJI IMAIZUMI). THE SUSHI WITH THE SEAWEED ROLL IS THE “MAKI ROLL” AND THE OTHER ONE IS “NIGIRI”

I’m in gastronomic heaven! And I didn’t even have to die to get here. I write from the capital of the worlds finest gastronomic country. I revel in this unmatched reverence of the freshest of ingredients, be it rice, tea to seafood and more. And here’s the surprise, I do so in its  exclusive sushi restaurant as well in it’s oasis-like, fabulously well-appointed award-winning spa. I am regaled with a massage of all my senses. And all this in the iconic Mandarin Oriental which  brings contemporary elegance to Nihonbashi, the historical and cultural centre of Tokyo commerce. True to its surroundings, it blends the best of past and future architectural splendor. The dynamic Paul Jones who helms this landmark has a strong India connection (having lived and spearheaded hotels there) and now in Tokyo is not only extremely well-versed in the Japanese culture but is as much a sushi fan as he is of Indian food.

SUSHI IN THE SKY

We float above Tokyo, on the 38th floor of the iconic Mandarin Oriental and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows  serve up breathtaking views of the revered Mt Fuji and the dynamic city panorama. No wonder this magnificent Sushi restaurant is called Sushi Soro (soro means sky). In front of us in this 8 seater Sushi Soro restaurant is maestro Yuji Imaizumi who has over 20 years of refined experience.

We all know that Japanese cuisine is acknowledged to be the worlds most sophisticated cuisine, it combines the artistic with precision, freshest and finest of produce, seasonality and a reverence that is unmatched in the world.  Explaining the cuisine’s intricacies. is Chef Dharshan Munidasa, who is half Japanese and half Srilankan and coinicidentally, his award winning Japanese restaurant in Colombo is called Nihonbashi. He guides me through the worlds largest fish market, Tsukiji, (where he flies in to regularly buy seafood and more) too.  Over a relaxed Omakase experience, we watch this true master of Tokyo’s authentic “Edo-mae” style of traditional sushi cuisine as he works deftly  on the sushi counter sculpted from a 350 year old Japanese cypress tree.

SUSHI: DID YOU KNOW?

We all know that “su shi”(sour rice) and it represents the category of Japanese foods which consist of cooked, seasoned rice served with fish, meat, vegetables, or other ingredients. The common varieties are maki rolls ( wrapped with seaweed or Nori), nigiri (individual mounds of rice topped with other ingredients).

But did you know ?

*That the most important component of sushi is rice? Think about rice to sushi as dough is to pizza: if your dough is no good, the pizza is no good, regardless how excellent its toppings.

*Sushi etiquette: Eat the sushi with your fingers (not chopsticks). Use the oshibori – a hot, moist towel neatly rolled up, to clean your hands during the meal, but when done, make sure to place it neatly to the side, not crumpled in a ball.

*You will be served pickled sweetened ginger (gari) , a swipe of wasabi ( a kind of horseradish).  We make the common mistake of eating the gari with the sushi, actually it is meant to be eaten in between the sushi bites. We make the common mistake of adding wasabi into soy sauce and using it as a dipping sauce. Wasabi can be added to pieces of sashimi, or placed atop nigiri – but not mixed into soy sauce. Many omakase bars will pre-lacquer your nigiri with soy, so you won’t even have to worry about soy sauce and dipping.

But let’s say that a few nigiri pieces are not pre-sauced. Always, always dip your nigiri fish side into the soy sauce, as opposed to dunking the bottom rice part head first. If you dip rice first, too much soy will be absorbed, and overpower the fish’s delicate flavor.

Totally Tokyo

Excuse me while I get rejuvenated  through Five different Routes with a spa journey featuring five essentially Japanese ingredients. This in the heavenly space in the sky spa. In Mandarin Oriental’s treatment named “Totally Tokyo” you can be sure rice plays a stellar role, plum, green tea, pine and bamboo too.. Enveloped in sounds filtered through bamboo speakers and the fragrance of green tea, a pine-oil footbath, a plum-salt scrub, and a warming rice hull pack expertly applied by the therapist while the everhelpful and super efficient  Michiko Fujikawa fluently explains it all in English. This ofcourse after the deeply relaxing shiatsu-style massage. Did I forget to tell you that through the big glass windows, the sacred snow-capped Mt Fuji in the blue winter skies is also blessing my magnifcient massage of the  senses?

Double Veggie Wow

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Harsh Shodhan with Sonal Pakvasa and Jayshree Thacker (in yellow)

Our hunt for home bakers and caterers continues. And everytime I think that our Times Food guide has them all, I get pleasantly surprised. Like the new age, stylishly modern vegetarian gourmet catering by Harsh Shodhan, which I taste in the hostess with the mostest, Sonal Pakvasa’s elegant dinner in the garden. Pesto khandvi, hummus on edible spoons, mini handvo with chilli jam delight, and enjoying these is the uncrowned queen, Mumbai’s doyenne of vegetarian catering and food,   vivacious Jayshree Thacker. Her iconic restaurant and catering has magnetized Mumbaikars for decades. Double veggiewow indeed!

Review: The Clearing House

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It sure is the coolest haute restaurant to open in the past few months. And that’s not just because it’s uberstylish and housed in Asia’s largest ice factory ( a part of it is still operational). It’s because it delivers  personalized warmth and hospitality along with global flavors.

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/mumbai

95 Year young and Counting

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Gautam and Magan Purohit at Shree Thaker Bhojnalaya. Boman Kohinoor, Viren D’esa and Lopa Chinai at Café Britannia

I dine at the world’s best restaurants,  as part of International Restaurant award academy juries but let me put on record that for the past three decades, I’ve been a a full time fan of the two 95 year young men, founders  of my all time  favorite Inexpensive, family run Mumbai eateries…

“Shree Thaker Bhojnalaya” (Kalbadevi) and “Café Britannia” (Ballard Estate).  It was indeed my lucky day, thanks to the vivacious and ever helpful Lopa Chinai who looped in Viren Desa who conducted an information packed walking tour of  Ballard Estate. The 95 year young Boman Kohinoor of Café Britannia buzzed around tables showing his recent photo with Kate and William and their unique berry pulao continues to be the star.

I once again tripped out  on the vegetarian Gujarati, Rajasthani thali at Gautam and Maganbhai Purohit’s “Shree Thaker Bhojnalaya”. I got high on my forever favorite ghee and then on the timeless elegance of the restored Royal Opera House, all thanks to the curator Asad Laljee. All in a delicious day’s work to kickstart 2017 to a high, happy note.

Review: The Korner House by Chef Vicky

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Happily many a new restaurant are giving priority to our well-being. Like The Korner House where the brilliant chef, author and TV host Vicky Ratnani even offers up “bowls of health and flavor” (Please note flavor is given equal importance.)

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/mumbai

An Open Invitation

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Are you a home baker? Cater out of home? Do you offer any foodie-services ? Do you know of any such?  We love encouraging talent and sharing the yummy news with all. Would love to find out more and feature you. Please send  your contact details instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh , email rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com waitingly yours

Review: Luna Gusta

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I’d heard about  the hot new opening at  St Regis: “Luna Nudo Gusta”. And the lovely  mouthful of a name had me mystified and confused. Luna Gusta’s ambiance is high gloss nostalgia with a contemporary sheen. 

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/mumbai

Millet Magic and More

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I confess, I am a millet-fan. Millet rotis (made yummy with finely chopped onions and mint, and soft with ghee) are my staple diet.Not only is this a gluten free grain but also has magical healthful properties (more about that later in this column). I am also an idli fan…those soft, fluffy, pillows of steamed delight. So imagine my joy when I chanced upon “millet-idlis”.

This at my latest “whats hot tasting session”

Millet idlis by Phokkisham

Millet fans, this is your mecca. The gifted Nandini Gopinath of Phokisham is obviously not only a millet fan herself but also aware of it’s many health benefits too. She makes the most unique Millet icecream  and millet idlis and dosas  too. And here’s the best part, she sells idli dosa batters in packets too. And it gets even better for us millet-buffs, Nandini makes millet based milagai podi, millet based chapatti atta and millet based dosa flour with herbs like methi leaves and mudakathan keerai too.  Please make a note: all millet based dosa batters are made to order except for red rice and bajra batters which are readily available.Along with the millet based batters, Nandini also makes the traditional rice based idly and dosai wet batter made from pure, traditional rice varieties like red rice, kambu, thinai kudhirai vaali etc. Nandini  has pure mountain honey for sale and also prepares tomato chutney.

Nandini Gopinath from Phokkisham at 4202 89 89. Address: #1-A, Mangadu Samy St, Nungambakkam (opposite Perumal temple).

Did you know? Magic Millet

Did you know that  millet is extremely heart-healthy? It’s  a good source of magnesium, which is known to reduce the severity of asthma and to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Magnesium has also been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack, especially in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.

Did you know that phosphorus provided by millet plays a role in the structure of every cell in the body?

Did you know  that the magnesium in millet  can also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes? And studies have shown that eating millet (high in insoluble fiber,)  helps avoid gallstones. Millet is rich in iron, calcium and B vitamins. I love millet’s taste and texture too, is it any wonder

I’m a confirmed millet-fan?

La Vita Buono

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Elizabeth’s home baked cake.

Balance. I believe in that magic word “balance”. So when Elizabeth, the talented passionate young IT professional changes careers to bake cakes, its time to revel in them..

Elizabeth from La Vita Buono  lives in Mogappair West, takes orders for cakes  Barbie cakes, brownies. She specialises in Baked dishes and Italian food, especially veg and non – veg pastas, lasagna, white sauce etc . Can home deliver.  Call 89 39 45 07 42

Foodline

It’s all thanks to “Foodline” that I am able to get plugged into  the magnificent foodie network of Chennai. When you write in to Foodline, I not only include your details in this column but also invite you to our “whats hot tasting session” .

What follows that tasting session is a write up (like in the column above) . So please do keep in touch.

Mamta Ki Rasoi

From 2 nd cross street lakshman Road ,CBI colony Khandanchavadi Omr is having a workshop on chocolate making, wrapping, packing, storing and n bouquets on 3rd Jan, professional Baking workshop on different types of cakes  & cup cakes, different types of icing n cake decoration ,Muffins,Brownies, doughnuts, tarts,Cookies, Breads, buns,  puffs,Pizzas,burgers  etc on 4 & 5 Jan. call 98407-24819. visit mamtakirasoi.blogspot.com

Narayani is a home baker specializing in brownies and also takes baking classes. She has conducted 30 episodes of cookery shows in Captain TV and won numerous competitions. Ph. 8056014246

Baked Delightss by home baker Smitha Kuttayya and Global Theeni by Smitha Kuttayya has an offer for new year that you can’t miss!! Order the new year meal for 2 that includes a veg quiche, 4 pieces of roast chicken, herbed baked rice, cheesecake and Irish cream. The package is priced at Rs.2000 and is valid from the 1st to the 10th of January 2017. Ph. Do call at 9444385425 to book your order.

Home caterer Deepika from AUMly  is now  offering the following items:

  • Marinated feta in thyme and extra virgin olive oil which is perfect for salads or on your cheese platters. Rs 262.50
  • Organic tea from Makaibari estate
  • Bai Mu Dan  Darjeeling peony white tea. Ra 249 for 25 gms
  • Darjeeling oolong tea Rs 331 for 100 gms
  • Summer solstice muscatel Darjeeling second flush black tea. Rs 578 for 100 gms
  • Silver green tea. Rs 605 for 100 gms
  • Lime pie Made from organic farm limes. A buttery crust with tangy lime curd filling. Rs 126 per slice.
  • Lime Ginger Syrup. Farm-grown limes are used to make this syrup. No chemicals, no preservatives. No extra sugar necessary. Perfect thirst quencher for our warm days.Rs.315/- for a 500ml bottle. (Makes approx. 20 glasses)
  • Organic Rajma from Uttrakhand (Mix of 4 varieties of rajma, Rs.37/- for 100gms)
  • Organic Raw Rice (Farm-grown, unpolished rice for everyday eating. Rs.221/- for a 3kg bag)
  • Bread Crumbs (Made on the farm, with no added preservatives Rs.52.50 for 300gms). Order by Wednesday for delivery on Friday. Ph. 89 39 77 43 19. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th  St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.

For any queries or recommendations, call  98840 65010 or mail anjalisharma966@gmail.com and  rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com

Culinary Stars

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CHEFS CHINU AND CHRISTOPHE

Last week I wrote about the gifted IT professional Taru Suri, who makes amazing jewelery, watches et al out of Belgian chocolate. This discovery I made while putting finishing touches on the Times Food guide 2017. Once again, this week we applaud the young culinary stars Shilarna Vaze aka Chef Chinu (Le Cordon Bleu) & her Swiss husband Chef Christophe Perrin.  The brilliant young couple’s  Gaia Gourmet’s wide repertoire spans continents. It hits the perfect balance between authenticity &creativity, luxury & fun, be it buffets to sit-down dinners, weddings to corporate events &board lunches to tea parties. They have Bollywood stars, corporate czars, consular corp and page 3 denizens eating out of their hands. Kudos!

Should you have know any  culinary stars please emailrashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com. Waitingly yours.