Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a date with Chef Nariyoshi Nakamura and a Japanese treat at WelcomHotel Sheraton, New Delhi ...

Japanese cuisine is a lot different from our Indian food owing to it's unique geographical position, abundance of sea food and the known penchant of the Japanese to find beauty in mundane things. I like the way they make the simple things breathtakingly beautiful. The predominant religions of japan are Shinto and Buddhism hence we see a very holistic healthy approach to the food. The presentation, assembling and even cooking techniques are such that simple ingredients are cooked in their own juices  quickly so they don't loose their raw characteristic flavor. The freshness is preserved, the flavors fresh and very much tangible. Not much mingling of complex flavors so you taste each and every ingredient in it's entirety.  The art of Ikebana says a lot about Japanese culture and food traditions. We see fresh ingredients cooked delicately and presented to please all the senses.

Every element shining well on it's own even in a bouquet of flavors.

We at CAL bloggers table had an opportunity to meet Chef Naritoshi Nakamura at WelcomHotel Sheraton, Saket about a week ago and it turned out to be an experience to cherish. He did a live cooking at the Tepenyaki grill and we also tried our hand at this huge grill with delicate pieces of tofu to be cooked.

Such a simple thing to cook and still we could see how a deft hand makes a difference in handling everything on a sophisticated grill, soft tofu and some miso sauce.

This was Miso Tofu steak being delicately grilled and then caramelised with the help of a blow torch. Spectacular is the word. That huge jar of Miso sauce is something to lust for, a secret recipe of Chef Nakamura himself.

But this Tofu steak grilling happened much after we had enjoyed an array of soy stir fried peanuts, boiled edemame, sweet and sour pickled fresh vegetables and an array of sushi. We enjoyed every single thing and nibbled on them as our chatter went on.

On the Sushi platter I liked the Tuna and smoked salmon sushi, apparently Nigiri sushi (the sticky rice covered with the fish) and the maki sushi, the Nori wrapped sushi as well but these fishy sushi wont be something I would crave for.

Quite predictably, I liked the vegetarian sushi more than the fishy ones. My love for some crunchy fresh vegetables is incorrigible. Look at that toasted sesame seeds that made the vegetarian sushi more delectable for me. This was my first vegetarian sushi and I would look forward to it again.

What I loved the most on the sushi platter was the sweet pickled ginger slices. I finished them all in between bites of wasabi laced sushi.

We tried our hand at the Chicken teriyaki grill too. Grilling it on a roller type grill was fun to look at, but taste wise it was okay, not something to write home about. The dumplings were great. Succulent and flavorful, very thin pastry and fresh true to the ingredient stuffing. We had Chicken and coriander dumplings and a vegetarian dumpling, both were really good.

 Tempura were served with dipping sauces. It was the best I have eaten till date. Succulent prawn tempura with a thin very crisp crust and some vegetable tempura for a change.

The soup was a Japanese fermented soybean (miso) soup with tofu and Nori pieces. It was a lovely light soup with distinct flavors of the seaweed.

I kept sipping on some fresh Orange juice in between.

In the main course I loved the shredded crisp Peking duck that was to be wrapped in a very thin plain pancake along with cucumber and spring onion sticks. This was a lovely creation that was well appreciated by everyone.

Mapo tofu was good, Thai style green curry was wonderful. Thai green curry mixed with that sticky fried rice was a combination made in heaven. Creamy, fresh flavors of herbs and well balanced seasoning. Perfect green curry that I would like to recreate.

And then there was a dramatic serving of a red snapper coated with a thick three flavored sauce, served aflame with the help of a blow torch. It was not just drama, the fish was wonderfully tasty, a crisp skin with soft and succulent interior, and very very flavorful.

The dessert was great too. The ever popular Darsaan with ice cream and a very nice fig pudding with toffee sauce. I could just taste them because so much food had made me dizzy by the end by it's sheer quantity too as we had tasted a lot many things, each one more flavorful than the other.

We didn't realise we spent almost four hours eating all these gorgeous dishes. I relish such evenings with my Delhi food blogger friends whenever we get time. Such warmth and such camaraderie, sharing experiences and flavors comes with the comfort level we have with each other. A treasure to cherish. The food gives us reasons to come together, chatter and forget about time.

Parul , Deeba , Ruchira , Sushmita, Mukta and Aishwarya were the Delhi bloggers friends of mine who relished a great time together.

{A la carte dinner- price for two is 3500Rs (plus taxes)}

1 comment:

  1. Nakamura-san is one of my favourite Japanese master chefs. Old seasoned hand a both Japanese 'n French food.