Plating pop art and Japanese preparations
By Ayesha Singh
Published: 08th Sep 2013 11:40:16 AM
It takes you a while to figure out where exactly Guppy by Ai, the new Japanese restaurant, is in Lodhi Colony, but once you are there, the time spent wandering in search of it seems worth it. The place is contemporary no doubt, but is also tastefully done. Actually it’s almost like a modern-day museum where interior designer Anshu Arora has used every bit of her imagination to keep you amused and amazed, sometimes even at the cost of the food. Most iconography is anime-inspired and translates into the fabric, sculptures, murals and lights. The window art and column figures are particularly interesting. The Origami, lights especially, was a unique feature adding to the eccentric character of the space. If you can manage to take your eyes off the custom-tailored kimonos on the walls, metal lion fish lights, Japanese kokeshi dolls, vintage cameras, old tiffin boxes and such other Japanese memorabilia, the food offered at Guppu is as interesting.
Chef Vikram Khatri is more like a guide to the various aspects of the restaurant than just an expert on Japanese cuisine. “I assure you, this restaurant has a very bright future. People love the food and the way we present it,” he says, adding that Japanese cuisine is fast becoming one of the most popular cuisines in the world and this was the best time to be a Japanese chef.
A good recommendation that came through him just as we seated ourselves was to try out the vegetarian selection, something we would have otherwise given a miss, considering the popular notion that Japanese cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian. “If you believe that, you are missing out on a whole chunk of delicious delicacies. I am going to start you out with some fantastic preparations,” he says, before disappearing into the kitchen only to return 10 minutes later with a trayful of vegetarian varieties. The ones we particularly liked were Chirashi Seafood Salad (an assortment of pickled prawns, tuna, salmon, crab and baby greens in goma-ae dressing), Asparagus Tempura Roll, Guppy Signature Black Cod, (baked miso marinated black cod served on a hot stone), and Asian Flat Noodles tossed with vegetables and Tonkatsu Sauce. The other dishes that seemed worth a try were Guppy House Salad, Miso Soup (fermented soy bean paste soup, with tofu and spring onion), Rice Paper Vegetables Roll (shredded vegetables and lettuce, wrapped in rice paper with yuzu kosho sesame sauce), Rock Corn Tempura (batter fried crisp seasonal vegetables with spicy sriracha mayo), Teriyaki Glazed Artichoke and Tofu, Grilled Jumbo Prawns and more. Although we wonder why the desserts menu was so limited with just two dessert options—Warm Carrot Cake and Yuzu Lemon Cheesecake.
Ask Khatri about his favourites, and he goes into a long spell of silence. After a few minutes of thinking really hard, he says he couldn’t pick his favourite. “All of these are my creations. My team and I work in unison to cater to every conceivable taste and all the preparations are a result of our creative craft,” says the chef, who is fiercely devoted to freshness, hygiene and technique. “Our offerings are inspired by Japan with bold striking flavours. You can taste the spicy, the tangy and the exotic all in one bite. My style embodies four essential elements of cooking—harmony, tradition, wisdom and balance. Most dishes, from mains to the condiments, are made from scratch here,” he says.
Address: 28, Main Market, Lodhi Colony.
Lunch for two w/o alcohol: Rs 1,500
With alcohol: Rs 2,000
Dinner for two w/o alcohol: Rs 2,000
With alcohol: Rs 3,000
(exclusive of all taxes)