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Bite into Japan’s summer

Last updated on May 27, 2019

If you can’t view the cherry blossom in all its glory, try the sushi and other delicacies in the heart of Delhi

Would you ever think of mango when you dream about sushi? Guppy, a restaurant in the heart of the city is doing just that in its Hanami (Flower Viewing) festival – which celebrates Japan’s summer months with their famous blossoming of cherry trees.

In its third edition of the festival, Guppy curates a special menu all through summer bringing in new flavours, seasonal ingredients and authentic Japanese produce. Like the Sakura Wood-Smoked Chicken Wings (Rs 510), which are beautifully smoked over cherry blossom wood sourced right from Japan.

The chicken is first marinated and then smoked for about 25 minutes for the rich flavour it perfectly embodies. It’s best enjoyed by grabbing the wings. So don’t hesitate to use both your hands.

Vegetarians can start off with Beet and Artichoke Salad or the Grilled Asparagus and Rocket Salad (Rs 390). Both come as a surprise for us meat eaters, unaware that veg salads can be so good. Both the salads have an incredible freshness and the flavours are authentically Japanese. The beet salad comes with plum dressing, chunks of beet and thinly sliced beet with tofu tucked into its folds.

The bowl of grilled asparagus has apple and radish dressing, and is crunchy with crisp lotus seeds.

The next round for the vegetarian should be the Green Vegetable Sushi Roll. Unlike what we know sushi to be, this one contains avocado, asparagus, spinach, chuka wakame seaweed and sesame cheese sauce and no sea food. However, it gives good competition to its non-vegetarian variants like the Kari Kari Sushi Roll which comes with yellowtail tartare coated with crunchy Japanese rice crisps.

Head Chef Saurabh Sharan recommends the Mango and Tuna Roll (Rs 890) which he says is much loved by Guppy patrons. The sweet taste of the Alphonso mango quite interestingly complements the spicy tuna and kimchi sauce. It’s nothing like what we have tasted before.

By now we are open to all experimentations, especially as this curation is, as Sharan put it, “influenced from around the world while still keeping it as authentic as possible”. But this didn’t work for us with the Kale and Water-Chestnut Dumplings. The dairy-free crispy pot stickers, served with chilli citrus-soy ponzu sauce, although well-made and juicy, was not a flavour we enjoyed.

We chew down that disappointment with Prawn Pirikara. Tender, juicy yet crispy prawns tossed in creamy chilli bean sauce and prawn crackers.

Moving on to the main course, the most remarkable is the Hot Stone Tenderloin (Rs 1050), a Japanese tradition. We had fun cooking thinly sliced tenderloin on the black stone sourced from a riverbed, heated in the oven to the perfect temperature. It is served here with vegetables and spices that stimulate your taste buds. What makes it even better are the spicy sesame sauce and chilly-citrus soy served with the dish.

If you’re looking for chicken, then you could have the Two-Way Grilled Chicken but do ask for the Udon noodles to go along with it. Although we felt that the chicken lacked a degree of flavour, it was made up by the richness of noodles.

If you still desire more seafood, do try the Grilled Jumbo Prawn which is served with assorted seasonal vegetables and pepper garlic sauce. They are tender and not overcooked as you may find in many restaurants.

After all the savoury goodness you may want to try their Tokyo Honey Toast (Rs 410). This is not a slice but a loaf of bread stuffed with matcha, chocolate, and strawberry cheesecake ice-creams, topped with wafers, chocolate honey caramel and Tokyo honey toast. The matcha especially stands out.

This cleverly crafted dessert needs the attention of at least two persons.

While the restaurant serves from the year-round menu as well, we would recommend trying the Hanami menu till it lasts. It’s fresh, flavourful and fun.

DRINK IT UP

What made all the food taste even better was the carefully curated cocktail menu that tastes as good as they look. Nishant, the manager of the restaurant plus the brains behind the drinks, told us he starts his planning a year in advance. This clearly reflects in what was served to us.

What blew us away was the Ninja Slash (Rs 475). With yubari melons sourced from Japan, topped with fresh kiwi and lime this drink with Soju is such a refreshing cocktail that you can keep sipping on it for the entire summer (hic!)

Or try the Shinjuku Fizz, with a great take on the regular gin and tonic. This comes with fresh gooseberry, peach schnapps and lime.

Kyoto Cutie, another gin drink, does not just taste too good but smells incredible with the rosemary garnish. It also has fresh pomegranate and sour mix, all served in a cute cactus-shaped glass.

Another drink with fresh fruit we tried was the Plum Blossom (Rs 550), which consists of Shochu, umeshu, fresh plum, basil and lime. It looks like a summer drink with neatly cut plums which look like they came out of a bird of paradise. The basil fragrance especially stands out.

The other drinks on offer are the Samurai Sake which would be liked by people who want their cocktails strong and tasting primarily of alcohol. It contains Sake, Aperol and vodka with lemonade.

There’s also the Aurum that you may try if you are a fan of sparkling wine. It also contains Shochu, passion fruit and lime juice.

Visit Guppy’s: 28 Lodhi Colony, Main Market, New Delhi 110003