Mumbai may not be lacking high-end Japanese restaurants with Wasabi just round the corner, but Yuuka definitely bridges the gap between quality and creativity. This week, we sampled dishes from Palladium Hotel’s recently opened Japanese restaurant, Yuuka. From origami artwork splashed across the walls to floor-to-ceiling views of Mumbai, relish Chef Ting Yen’s Modernistic Japanese dishes in the grandest of settings. Your credit card is sure to get a battering – this kind of fine dining doesn’t come cheap. But, for a special occasion it’s the ideal place to get your best couture on and eat in style.
When you enter Yuuka from the level between the 37th and 38th floors of the South Mumbai hotel, you can immediately spot Chef Ting Yen’s team prepping up behind the opulent marble-cast sushi bar. Wooden and bamboo installations and elegantly appointed furniture are among the decorative flourishes at the newly opened fine-dining Japanese joint. The 50-seater restaurant is perfect for an intimate dinner gathering.
I’ve dined at Oishii Boston, and was comforted to see that the Yuuka’s menu had a very generous vegetarian assortment – not exactly what I was expecting in a Japanese restaurant, given how most dishes revolve around raw food. What’s more—judging by that one meal at least—the food was rather interesting. Although the menu was purely an array of Japanese locals, a sense of novelty outpoured each dish.
The restaurant retains most of the Oishii Boston favourites, but tries to go beyond the formula and invent dishes that suit the Indian palate. Chef Ting Yen stressed the importance of vegetarian dishes on Yuuka’s menu, “Suiting the local palate is most essential. I trained for a period of nine months to understand the Indian palate and predominantly to perfect the vegetarian flavour; hence my menu consists of 50% vegetarian dishes”
For instance, the Tiger Tear Maki is a fresh addition, carefully crafted for the vegetarian gastronomes. The vegetarian dish features fresh avocado, diced cucumber and crispy Habanero pepper with cream cheese. With each element adding its own twist of flavour, the maki dish was an explosion of colour and flavour. “Only the Indian palate can bear the spice level and still appreciate the different flavours”, adds Chef Yen.
Beautifully plated, the seafood sushi platter is a dish you eat with your eyes and if you like raw tuna caviar you will like the combination of flavours. The proof of their freshness was in the blushing hues of the tuna and caviar delicately balanced on the clumps of rice. The assorted vegetarian sushi platter on the other hand, can be given a miss. The vegetables lacked intensity and flavour and more importantly, did not do justice to the platter.
Inspired by chef Yen’s childhood memories, the Japanese Yam Tempura Maki was an unexpected culinary delight. The Maki consisted of fresh sweet potato filling, wrapped in crisp sea-weed and fine Japanese rice. Shredded sweet potato sticks garnished the dish. The softness of the sweet potato when paired with the crispy potato sticks was delectable. When accompanied by the customary wasabi and soya sauce, the sweet-and-sour taste really appealed to my taste buds.
The largely portioned and steaming Chilean Seabass was deeply satisfying. Grilled to perfection and slivered with a light layer of Crispy Garlic and Ginger dipped in Citrus Soy Sauce, the dish was beautifully infused with flavour. The tender meat of the seabass was perfectly contrasted with the acidity of the crispy garlic and ginger.
The non-vegetarian Kushiyaki platter had a commendable assortment of chicken, salmon, shrimp and scallop amongst others. Each individual piece grilled on an open flame, perfectly accompanied by four delectable sauces – a must if you a lover of satisfyingly savoury skewers.
When you think Japanese food you think sushi, you usually don’t think desserts. I must say – Chef Ting Yen’s flair for innovation and creativity is not restricted to savoury dishes. We sampled from an assortment of desserts, namely the Red Bean Crème Brulee and the Green Tea Layer Cake.
You may have led yourself to believe that the Red Bean Crème Brulee is your customary French sweet dish, but one bite into the dessert and I was awed with the texture and distinct flavour of the Crème Brulee. A hidden bottom layer of traditional Japanese red bean supplemented the dish with density and a zing of deep flavour. The thawing Yubari Ice Melon was plunged in Red Wine Rasberry Coulis and accompanied by Chocolate Ribbon. Although the dish was on the whole quite average, the quality and freshness of the fruit compote really surprised me.
If you have a keen liking for desserts, do not overlook the Green Tea Layer Cake. 40 layers of delicately flavoured crepes have been positioned on one another and placed in a coulis of aged rum soaked raisins. A dusting of finely grinded green tea and matcha dust made this extra special.
The overall experience was rather intriguing. The modernistic vibe that Chef Yen infuses Japanese locals with, changes your perception of the Japanese cuisine. Most definitely, Chef Yen’s avant garde approach to Japanese food will make for some indulgent and satisfying meals. With its elegant settings and impressive vegetarian selection, Yuuka’s here to stay.
A meal for 2 would set you back Rs.7, 000-Rs.8, 000. If you’re one to sip on some cocktails, I’d go with Rs.10, 000 for a meal for 2.
462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel,
Mumbai 400013 India.
Tel NO : +91 22 6162 8000