I sometimes wonder if I qualify as a ‘Jopo’?! A Jopo is defined as a person who is obsessed with everything Japanese, including culture, language, food, and lifestyle, okay maybe that’s too strong a word for me but I am somewhat half way there! I am certainly keen on their turbulent history, their rituals and their food but I am not blessed with enough years on earth to know all things Japanese. Momentary love affairs with Ishiguro, Murakama and a latent kinship with the book Memoirs of a Geisha has made me a pop culture aficionado of Japan and not a true believer. I always feel that feeling which happens in the gut when you know you’re cheating, when I have this feeling of faithlessness and it happens ever so often when I order Japanese food. I don’t cheat in the sense of not enjoying what I am eating or feigning a sense of comfort with the food, I cheat when I choose to eat Japanese food outside of Japan or as a ‘fusion’ meal (don’t get me started on ‘fusion’...please! Like all things it has a limit!) and if I must surrender to my fear of flying (not because of the bad sushi I once at onboard ...onboard!!!!) I have no choice but to eat Japanese food here.
This brings me to my latest and most magnificent find! Yes that monologue has a definite (and delicious) conclusion, read on! I rarely eat out mainly because my family and friends find me overtly critical, hyper involved and surgically deconstructive of meals we are having! I don’t mean to be, I am in it for the ride, the experience, the nirvana every menu screams of! I am well aware of the good intentions that go behind each and every kitchen (which is why I do not critique, I merely inform!) so when I eat out I must be served with what is promised and what is deserved (read: worth-every-penny-finger-licking-good). I try to discount meals I don’t understand, unfathomable fusion and generally lack lustre culinary performances and I have myself a fair appraisal of something truly divine! Which was my breakfast early one balmy weekday morning, yes, I said week day! I had completely earned this frivolity (read: pure indulgence, much like the perfect chocolate mousse!). My view was a thousand shades of azure and foliage, the temperature was perfect and everyone chose that morning to be speak softly, not a mobile rang! It was ‘the’ day for divinity!
The whole thing started a day before when I caught ‘The Ring’ on World Movies and had a sudden and insane craving for either real tempura shrimp or real miso, neither of which was immediately available! Lugging the quandary through the day, I made a reservation at Baywatch for a Bento Breakfast with a dear dear friend. This had to be done, the news was fresh off the Hibachi, and you could order a Bento Box right here in the heart of the Delhi-land! If I can’t eat right then I will at least make regular but feeble attempts at doing the right thing, this was going to be my magnum moment and I am happy to report, it was!
The WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi is truly a pleasure; it is old school chic and takes me back to my college days with ITC Hotels! Why I chose this Bento was because it was Chef Nakamura’s creation, a man I had followed around the city for a while. Having settled in with the fare at Sakura, Gurgaon, I was personally keen to know where he would surface next? I found him and I MET him...he brought me my Bento and an hour of pure joy! He watched me eat and I didn’t care, he had to know how I felt! I started with a small bowl of salad; with a dressing only a chef can do....no artificial aftertastes and a perfect blend of vegetables and seasonings. The chiffonade was sooo beautiful, I almost felt criminal consuming it. Then arrived my Bento, in an ornate Bento Box, the colours exploded out of it ...the aroma was such a smack over the morning breakfast buffet fragrances. I tucked in right away! The Miso was perfect, just readied, off the stove kind of wholesome, I loved the pickles for their colours and their coolness, they were like a wakeup call and since I hadn’t dulled my palate with coffee, they really worked with the meal. The rolled omelette was light, airy, wonderful and then came the two most beautiful elements of this treasure, the super silken tofu (I am not a tofu person mainly because I have more Chinese food and their tofu is always tough) and the Sole in light soy, I was happier it was sole over a red snapper, which I prefer coal grilled most of the time. I drenched the rice with Miso, the hand minced/powder beetroot was sooo perfect over the rice. The meal ended with the sipping of Japanese tea, topped up every time I looked away. I felt so content; it was like an hour of meditation. I am a complete eggs and bacon person, so pleasing me at the breakfast table is something only my mother could do and then there was today, here, with the beautiful food. This is an experience you must have!
Japanese Breakfast components -
Hearty servings of Miso Soup, Cold Japanese Pickle, Cold Omelette, Cold Tofu, Steamed Japanese Rice and Grilled Red Snapper in Light Soya Sauce promise to pamper your mood and bring alive the magic of the Orient, straight from the 'Land of the Rising Sun'.Completed with Japanese Tea and cut fruits
Available from 7am -10:30 am, all days of the week. 24 hours prior reservation required.
Price: Rs. 1500 (exclusive of taxes)
About Chef Nakamura:
Chef Nariyoshi Nakamura from Tokyo, Japan trained under the master chef who was a member of the Japanese Royal family for 4 years and learned the nuances of cooking. His passion for experiencing new cultures and societies made him travel to The Guam Island and Saipan Island, US. He worked as an Executive Chef in the Nicco Hotels there. He went on to travel to Brisbane, Australia and worked in the renowned steak house, Daniels. Nakamura satiated the taste buds of Brisbane with Tepanyaki steak, charcoal grill steak and quintessential Japanese fare. In May 2010 Chef Nakamura joined Pan Asian, WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi Hotel. A senior Chef in Japanese fare Nakamura has received several accolades for Best Japanese and Best Oriental cuisine in the different restaurants he served in addition to being commended by several heads of state, diplomats, CEOs and leading personalities of the country. Chef Nakamura at Pan Asian, WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi Hotel will be showcasing a new menu which will offer different varieties of Tempura, Japanese noodles, Yaki Tori, Sushi and Sashimi.