Review: EN, Japanese Fine Dining, New Delhi

Living in Delhi, one begins to take for granted its exquisiteness, the beautiful parks and stunning monuments. This is why sometimes it takes dining at a place like ‘EN’, with its view of the majestic Qutub Minar to makes you appreciate and fall in love with the beauty of Delhi all over again. ‘En’ is a holy word, it means Synchronicity; a blessed relationship, an invisible connection of fate and destiny. Hence, merging various styles, essence, ingredients & preparation techniques from around the world with the spirit of Japan, the highly specialized chefs at En bring to you a superb reinterpretation of Contemporary Japanese Cuisine.

EN- Japanese Cuisine, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

EN- Japanese Cuisine, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Spread over three levels and divided into various areas, the design thought behind En highlights the harmonious coexistence of two strong cultures, Japanese & Indian. The century old royal heritage Haveli that is home to En has been recreated to harmoniously match the theme of a Japanese restaurant. And, rather than conform to the clichéd ornamental look like most oriental restaurants, the space has a minimalist appearance that flaunts timeless style and elegance. The interior layout has been done intelligently with seating that can be converted smoothly into private dining rooms that could accommodate 6, 8, 12 and 20. Complete with a Sushi bar and a bar, the fine dining area is radiant with a combination of natural and artificial light, bringing to life a composition that boasts of an unassuming earth-tone interior elements set off by clean lines. ‘aka’ – Red (believed to be the color of the Sun), the sacred color of Japan, finds its way into the furnishings gracing the space.  The luxurious placement of bay windows throughout the fine dine space allow diners unparalleled views of the surrounding green belt and the ubiquitous Qutab Minar. While the interior fine-dine space at En exudes ample charm, the terraces, aptly named ‘The Tableu’ sets a tone of its own bringing visitors to the piece de resistance of the venue. The view on all four terraces is nothing short of breathtaking, with the Qutub Minar as the main highlight. In fact, keeping this ambiance in mind restaurant had its first Sufi night on 26th April, where the atmosphere was mesmerising and left all those there wanting more!

EN, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

EN- Japanese Cuisine, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Dating back to the Peking man and his use of fire and the resulting invention of ‘modern day cuisine’ as we know it, Contemporary Japanese Cuisine is the result of noteworthy journey that began somewhere in the 8th century in history of The Three Kingdoms, arriving majestically at our up-to-date palates. According to Raji Sandhar, owner EN, “Our idea is to create a new benchmark in the arena of Japanese Fine dining throughout India.  It requires the infusion of un-matched cuisine served in the relevant ambiance. En aims to provide the Capital’s gastronomic globetrotters with a taste of what authentic Japanese cuisine is truly about.”

EN- Japanese Cuisine, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Japanese food is one of the healthiest in the world and still remains the most distinct cuisines in the world. A few aspects that set Japanese cuisine apart from other cuisines is it’s emphasis on using quality ingredients, unique seasoning its impeccable presentation.The menu at EN bears witness of the rich epicurean roots of Japan. Though Japan is rich in culture and has a variety of different styles and cuisines, ‘En’ brings to you that culture of fine dining and authentic cuisine that’s savored only in Tokyo. We decided to go in for the set menu, so as to get a taste of the entire range of dishes served at the restaurant. We began with a dish that included Bean with Black sesame with Nanbanzuke and Prawn balls. The black sesame was out of this world, I can use it as a seasoning on almost anything I want to eat. We then had Kakiage and Tempura, which are actually similar dishes but I preferred Kakiage and now with this new knowledge I know next time to ask for Kakiage instead of Tempura. We then tried a mouth-watering assemblage of award winning Sushi & Sashimi, and a ‘so soft it melts in your mouth’ braised pork belly. We then tried ‘Chawanmushi’ or egg custard, an authentic Japanese dish the only thing on the menu I could not eat, as I think that is a developed taste and will take a long time for me to get there. Of course this was followed with an addition of Rolls and Maki & Teppen-Yaki and an exhaustive rendering of Noodle & Rice dishes… all washed down with a cup of signature Houjicha, Japanese Black tea and Sorbet for Dessert. All in all, I can’t wait to go back, sip my wine while I enjoy the view of the stunning Qutub Minar and enjoy an exquisite meal.

Address:Ambawatta One, 5/1 Kalkadas marg, New Delhi- 30
Phone:  011-26646471
Price: Meal for two approx.: Rs.4,500 (plus taxes) minus alcohol

Review: Aoi, Mumbai

Japanese food seems to be the trend, not just in India but around the world. I for one love Japanese food and have already reviewed a Japanese restaurant before and will be reviewing another soon and with pleasure. Now, the question stands, can a non-Japanese cuisine lover be converted? We sent Writer and Blogger Sohini Datta a self proclaimed Japanese cuisine hater, to review the new Japanese establishment Aoi in Bandra Mumbai.
Her verdict- well read more to find out.

Review: Aoi, Mumbai

Not everyone likes every kind of cuisine. Japanese like that is my least favourite. Well second last to be more exact, ranking just above the ugly and vicious world of boiled vegetables. Therefore, when my first review was for a Japanese restaurant, I thought it was a cosmic conspiracy.

I dragged an American friend for the same; at least someone could explain to me why one should pay to eat raw fish unless he is Robinson Crusoe deserted in an island. But then the cosmic conspiracy unfolded and ten dishes later, Japanese as a cuisine had climbed straight up the ladder of my favourite food list.

It helped, with hundreds of origami cranes floating right above and filling the ceiling; it was just about enough Japanese for a small eatery in Bandra West. Interestingly, it was a small eatery planned with smart thinking. Open kitchen, bookshelves and enough tables to make it comfortable, made Japanese cuisine a lot closer to the heart. It deconstructed the exoticness of the palate, brought it down to the neighbourhood comfort and yet left us feeling just as fresh and light after the meal at any other fancier restaurant would. This is the result of a clear vision, when you know that you do not need to compromise on anything, just because you want to make it more affordable or you have a smaller space.

Review: Aoi, Mumbai

Review; Aoi, Mumbai Review: Aoi, Mumbai

My American friend was extremely excited, she compared it with the Japanese she eats in New York and she felt it was totally better. I never thought I would fall in love with Salmon tartar, but I did. Aoi successfully converted me. We recommend Salmon Tartar Genryo, Tempura with Japanese mayo vegetables, Beef Yakitori and almost everything on the Sushi list. The new found love for sushi makes me want to go back there almost every weekend, who said raw fish was not edible?
Aoi: 1,Gloria, St Baptist Road, Near Mount Mary Steps. Tel: 022-69995000
Price: Meal for 2, Rs.2,000 minus alcohol

To read Sohini Datta’s blog or to contact her log on to http://strictlybeautiful.wordpress.com/

Sakura, Metropolitan New Delhi

Most of you must know by now that I recently moved back to Delhi from Mumbai. Even if you were unaware of that I am certain you by now know I love trying out different cuisines, which at one point was a huge issue in Delhi thanks to the Indianization of every cuisine. Hence, I was always looking forward to the culinary experience in Mumbai way before I moved there, but all that has become a thing of the past. There seems to be a sub-culture in Delhi which has slowly become popular that is demanding authentic food and service alike. And I decided to re-visit Sakura for some authentic Japanese a few weeks back.

For those of you who have not been there, Sakura India’s first Japanese eatery at Metropolitan hotel, is an award-winning fine-dining restaurant. It offers the best of Kaiseki cuisine – the formal seven to nine course royal Japanese cuisine –prepared by Celebrated Master Chef Tetsu Akahira and his team, from the freshest food flown in fresh from Japan. Decorated simply in a contemporary Japanese manner, Sakura has clean lines and minimal furniture with the windows designed to resemble traditional Japanese tatami mats, common to most houses in Japan. The simple yet clean and efficient decor is a good example of what you can expect with the food- no extra frills, just excellent food.

 

For once Japanese food is not just Sushi and sashimi but a variety of other dishes. You can go in for Kushi Age Goshumori –– five different kinds of Japanese style skewers, Sakura style Tantanmen — hot egg noodles topped with spicy ground meat sauce or the ever popular Ginmutsu Saikyoyaki — cod-fish marinated with white soy bean paste, mirin, sake and grilled to perfection. The menu is vast and as authentic as possible. We tried Sakura’s famous Bento Box meals with food arranged artistically and meticulously in different slots. They are priced  vegetarian Bento Box meal costs around Rs.1,200 and Sushi Bento that I had going up to approximately Rs.2,500. You also have the option to opt for a course meal, which is a 9 course meal and offers assorted sashimi to Tempura to Sushi and soup. The main highlight of the meal for me was the dessert or their Home made ice-creams, we tried all the various flavours and the best past was these were all things used in Savoury dishes which had been converted to sweets like Red Bean, Green Tea, Black sesame and Wasabi. Basically, if you are craving authentic Japanese cuisine I suggest you visit Sakura at the earliest. But be prepared to be experimental and try various things, to really cherish the experience. Like my appetizer which was assortment of 3 dishes consisted fo Clams, Squid and Jelly fish and though I was slightly apprehensive about the Jelly Fish which I had never had before it turned out to be my favourite.

Sakura, The Metropolitan Hotel New Delhi, Bangla Sahib Road, New Delhi, Tel: 011-42500 200
Meal is approximately Rs.2,000 per head plus taxes (minus alcohol)

Review: Oasis, Claridges Surajkund

A mere 20 minute drive from South Delhi leads us to Claridges Surajkund, a great repose from the bustling city life of Delhi. Since I had already been here for a Spa review and had a great experience I was more than excited to check out their restaurant and do a food review for which I had selected Oasis, an interactive kitchen offering Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine. But before the food review I decided on a wine tasting at the Wine Library.

The Wine Library stocks over 900 bottles of carefully selected wines from around the world. Over the years, wine tasting has become an excellent way of entertaining guests and since the Wine Library acts as both a wine shop and wine bar it is a perfect place to start your evening. The tasting happens each day between 7-9 pm where you get to try four different types of wine. The first, Golden Mile Chardonnay which is an Australian wine with an acidic side and a fruity aroma. This costs approximately Rs.2,000 for the bottle. Then we sipped the Manawa Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which is a dry medium bodied wine, crisp acidic with herb grass and smokes flavours along with apple and melon aromas. This is around Rs.2,500 per bottle. Then my personal favourite, Manawa Pinot Noir from New Zealand with soft Tannis and very light colour,with black cherry, berry plum and rose aromas. This was about Rs.2,500 per bottle as well. Finally Peter Lehmann, a full-bodied Australian Shiraz with tart acidity and hard tannins with black currants, red berry, chocolate tar and meaty flavour was served. This was too strong for me but my dinner companion enjoyed it. This was approximately Rs.500 per glass. The wines are accompanied by cheese, fruits and crackers, and post the tasting guests are encouraged to choose a wine to accompany their meals, my companion and I decided to skip the bottle and just have a glass each of our favoured wines.

Though I had been encouraged by most people to go in for the Dhaba which is the Indian restaurant, I had decided to go in with Oasis, the Multi-cuisine restaurant. The reason being Dhaba at Claridges Delhi has been a family favourite for years, hence almost every occasion meant a meal over there and I wanted to try something different, plus leave Dhaba for what it has been the past few years, a family memory.
Living up to the essence of its name, Oasis,not only offers a great culinary experience but also dazzles you with its ambience and decor. Offering both indoor and alfresco seating, the restaurant overlooks the beautifully landscaped central courtyard with exciting water bodies showcasing an intricate interplay of water, light & music. With its three live interactive kitchens – Italian, Chinese & Indian, bustling with the essence and flavours of joyous indulgence, the Oasis is an exotic dining experience.The Italian battery kitchen indulges guests with live wood fired pizza,  freshly tossed pasta, risotto and much more.Amongst, the signatures on offer at the Chinese counter are a variety of  exotic vegetarian & non vegetarian steamed and fried dimsums & stir fried dishes  cooked in Szechuan and Cantonese style.The Indian interactive kitchen invites guests to explore the real taste of  Indian food and curries, scrumptious galouti kebab  and dum ki nalli cooked with baby lamb shanks and Indian herbs.The a-la-carte menu offers Italian, Chinese & Indian selection through the  day. The dinner buffet on weekends has an extensive food spread, with live  counters and a large dessert selection. There is also a private dining section, which you can book out for special occasions.

My dinner companion Gayatri, who has done reviews for us in the past had already been to Claridges Surajkund before and recommended the Sushi platter, by Chef Keisuke Uno. Since both her and I are huge fans of Sushi that was not an issue at all and we called for a vegetarian platter for her and Non vegetarian for me. Before tasting the Sushi it took me a while to convince myself to destroy the art work as it was presented so beautifully. After we finished the amazing platter we decided to take a small break and sip our wine outside in the courtyard where there were already quite a few diners having their meals. Honestly as much as I had heard about the beauty of the courtyard in reality it is even more astounding and peaceful. We went inside to complete our meal which we decided on a European main dish with Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli for Gayatri and Black cod “Livornese” for myself. These were as delicious as the rest of our dishes as well as the bread we had earlier but we were so full it was a struggle to actually finish them. But still more out of greed than anything we had to try dessert and here to the chef recommended Tiramisu and I have to say it was out of the world. All in all I would recommend everyone to try to do a weekend at Claridges Surajkund. That way you can experience the whole thing and also try out more restaurants and definitely expereince the Spa

Address: Shooting Range Road, Suraj Kund, Faridabad,NCR. Tel:0129 419 0099
Price: Rs.2,000 for a meal for two without alcohol


Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli

Ingredients
For mixture  
Spinach- 80gms
Chop onion/ garlic-5gms each
Olive oil-10ml
Ricotta cheese-50gms
For pan cake
Flour-100gms
Egg-30gms
Water-200ml
Basil (chopped) 1 gms
Saffron water 10 ml
For sauce
Blanch cherry-5no.
Chop garlic/onion-5gms each
Tomato juice-25ml
Seasoning
Olive oil-5ml
For garnish
Crushed pine nuts-1tsp
Celery leaf-1bunch
Blended pilati sauce-for drizzling 

Method
For mixture– blanch spinach cool down in ice water then take out water chop it finely. Heat oil in a pan add chop onion and garlic broil it for few sec. then add spinach broil it for 2min over low heat add seasoning and keep a side for cool down. After cool down add cheese mix well
For pan cake – make a batter with flour egg and water.
For sauce– heat oil in a pan add onion and garlic sauté it then add cherry tomato, tomato juice and basil leaves and cook over low heat for 15min. adjust seasoning and keep a side.At order time- make pan cake with the batter stuff spinach mixture in it and make two roll of it. Add parmesan cheese on top and cook in oven for 5min. at 180’C. heat sauce place on the bottom of the plate arrange pan cake one whole and one cutting into two garnish with celery leaves, blended pilati and crushed pine-nut’s line by side.

Black cod “Livornese”

Ingredients
Black cod steak-180gm
Olive oil -30ml
Sea salt- to taste
Crushed pepper corn-3gm
Tomato blanch burnoise-10gm
Onion chop-3gm
Fresh thyme- 2-3 sprig
Garlic chop-3gm
Basil leaf -4no.
Black olive- 2no.
Caper-5no.
Fish stock- 50ml
White wine- 10ml
Butter- 5gm
Cream- half tea spoon
Potato wedges fried- 6no.
Onion slice- 5gm
Parsley chop- a pinch

Method
Firstly take fish steak put three cut on skin now marinade it with salt pepper and oil. Heat oil in a non stick pan sear fish in it skin side first, after searing cook fish in oven for 5min.
For sauce-heat oil in a pan add chop onion, garlic, celery, thyme leaf sauté it for few sec. then add caper and tomato, now add white wine after reducing wine add fish stock, now bring it to the boiling, then add seared fish, black olive and basil leaves reduce the heat cover the pan with a lid, cook over slow flame for 5min. Then take out fish finish sauce with butter and cream.
For potato– heat oil in a pan add garlic, slice onion sauté it than add fried crushed potato wedges add seasoning finish with parsley.