hi INDiA Copyright 2022-2050
By Karishma Saurabh Kalita
New Delhi, Oct 6: Style, elegance and pure authenticity along with a majestic view of one of Delhi’s most famous symbols, the Qutub Minar, is what the uber- sophisticated En – The Japanese Restaurant – brings to you.
It’s located in an over 100-year-old heritage building. Retaining its old world charm, the interiors are very contemporary. Filled with Japanese artifacts, including Samurai swords and Samurai headgear, the three main dominant colours – gold, black and red – make it all the more oriental. It has a seating capacity of 48 with three private dining areas.
En also has outdoor seating with a terrace which is only opened for private parties. The lights are kept dim to give it a mellow and subtle mood. It hits you with an instant calming feel the moment you step in.
With a Japanese head chef, Muramatso, who has been cooking for the last 32 years, En promises one the true taste of Tokyo.
"It’s like a trip to Tokyo, our authenticity is what we’re truly known for," said restaurant manager Bodhisatya Bhattacharya, who has been with En since it opened two years ago.
Asked about what makes the food so different, Bhattacharya said the restaurant itself is targeted at a niche crowd – one that knows the distinction between a modified sushi to match the palate of a certain place and a non-modified or the authentic one which is being consumed in Japan since people discovered the delicacy.
"We mostly get Japanese expats but also get Delhiites who love to experiment with food," he added.
A very interesting sight, the staff dons Japanese kimonos with cherry blossom patterns on them.
To start off this very elegant dining experience, we were given two cocktails – the Qutub Affaire, Absolut Mandarin vodka-based drink, served with orange chunks; Yokohama Punch, vodka mixed with guava juice – the latter which Bhattacharya claimed was "loved by the Japanese".
Both the cocktails were very balanced, fresh and refreshing. The amount of alcohol was very generous unlike most of the times where cocktails are like treasure hunts because you have to try very hard to taste the alcohol in every sip.
The drinks were quickly followed by the food which comprised Qutab vegetable tempura roll, sea tuna maki roll, aburi (baked) salmon special roll, buta kakuni (28-hour braised pork belly), ebi (prawn) tornado and miso soup.
The vegetarian tempura roll can easily convert a non-vegetarian. It was served with crispy sweet potato noodles along with wasabi drizzles. It was light, crisp and had the very traditional burnt-sesame and a subtle mustard taste.
The tuna sushi was fresh; it felt like it was served straight out of the sea. Very distinct flavour of the tuna. The baked salmon sushi was nothing like I ever tasted before. The speciality of these sushi rolls was that every element and every ingredient could be tasted individually. I have never been to Japan, but I’m sure this is what sushi actually tastes like. All the sushi was served with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce.
The slow-cooked pork dish was definitely the star of this oriental experience. Soft and succulent, it melted in the mouth. After 28 hours of cooking, the pork still did not lose its flavour, the sweet caramelisation further enhanced it. This dish was so nice; it made you feel very royal.
The next dish was again quite a surprise. The prawns coated with sweet potato was fried to perfection. It came with two sauces – taru taru, finely chopped boiled eggs mixed with Japanese mayonnaise, mustard and onions and tonkatsu, a type of thick Worcestershire sauce. The prawns were soft, but the taste was a little bland to our typical Indian taste buds. The two sauces enhanced the flavour.
The last was the miso (fermented soy-bean paste) soup which actually acts as a palate cleanser and also helps in quickly digesting the food. It came with pieces of fried tofu. It is a little on the acquired side, not recommended for all.
We concluded the meal with a very strange yet adventurous dessert called anmitsu, which is a traditional Japanese sweet dish. It consists of transparent agar jelly cubes, sweet red bean paste, banana pieces and pink and green gyuhi (soft glutinous rice cake). At a total loss for words on how this dessert tasted, I guess to actually find out one should actually taste it because it was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and fascinating things that I ever ate.
The meal was definitely a taste trip, ranging from the pungency of the wasabi to the absolute tastelessness of the agar jelly cubes. En has definitely been a ride for my five senses.
Where: H-5/1, Ambawatta One, Kalkadas Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi
Meal for two: Rs.3,000 (with alcohol)
Timings: For lunch: 12 noon-2.45 p.m.; For dinner: 6.30-10.45 p.m
(The writer’s visit was at the invitation of En. Karishma Saurabh Kalita can be contacted at [email protected])