Spices @JW Mariott, Mumbai : Japanese Delight

The Nigiri Platter

My affair with Japanese food way back during my younger years in Chile where seafood was in abundance and there were Sushi bars in almost about every corner. This passion continued over the years and when I migrated to the US, Teppanyaki was added to this list. We would go to Benihana or Shogun to enjoy the juggling acts by the chefs at the Tepanyaki table.

This passion did, however, take a beating when I migrated back to India as there was a serious dearth of good Japanese Sushi or Teppanyaki restaurants. I must add here that over the past few years this void has been filled by several good places coming up in the major cities around India. JW Mariott is one such place and their oriental restaurant Spices has for long been one of the torch bearers for good oriental cuisine in Mumbai which includes Japaenese.

Chef Himanshu and Chef Emmel

Recently JW Mariott and Spices hosted a bloggers meet where they introduced their newly appointed renowned Japanese Specialty Chef, Chef Emmel Muya. Chef Emmel has over 16 years of experience in Sushi and Sahimi and he had crafted a special menu for us which not only showcased his expertise in Sushis and Sashimis, but also displayed his fine techniques at the teppanyaki table as well.

The evening started well off with healthy pourings of Fratelli Sparklings followed by the first starter of Tofu Wasabi and Wasabi Prawns. I fleetingly tasted the tofu as my main focus was on the prawns and found them to be very silky and delectable. The prawns were fried in a very light tempura batter crisp and juicy with a mildly spiced wasabi sauce. They also had a slight tempering of curry leaves which gave them an interesting dimension and were garnished with salmon roe. All in all a wonderful starter.

Wasabi Prawns

The same prawn tempura was then served to us in a Sushi roll with jalapeno and a spicy sauce. This I found as a very interesting east and west combination where the jalapeno provided a very delightful kick to the sweeter sushi rice and prawns. The chef also brought in a platter of assorted Nigiris which included tuna, salmon and swordfish nigiris and thereon an assorted platter of Sashimi. For those of you who relish sashimi and enjoy sushis, I would highly recommend these platters from the chef. The cuts were simply melt-in-the-mouth, each fish lending a unique sweet flavour to the palate.

From here we moved on to the hot dishes and sat around the teppanyaki table where we were served the Miso Soup to start with. I have always thought of Miso soup as a comfort soup and this one hit the spot quite well. The Wafu Sarada– Japanese green salad on the other hand was quite average and it was missing the crabsticks as mentioned in the menu. The wafu dressing was quite nice and could have done wonders if the salad had a bit more elements rather than the cabbage, carrots and sesame mix.

King Prawns in Teriyaki Sauce

The teppanyaki dishes were flagged off by some grilled vegetables which I found quite average and in need of some seasoning. This lull was quickly redeemed by some fantastic King Prawns in Teriyaki Sauce, Medium rare Salmon steak sin garlic and teriyaki sauce and Chicken in teriyaki sauce. All these were served with a side of Teppanyaki fried rice which I didn’t do much justice to as I was quite happy with my prawns and chicken.

I guess the chef intentionally wanted to retain the taste of the fantastic sushi and the teppanyaki spread as the dessert that followed was highly disappointing. A simple fruit salad with a very basic vanilla ice cream was served to round off the meal. With a chef of his calibre I was expecting more of a dessert like a Mochiko or even a Green Tea jelly or Ice Cream.

Wafu Sarda

However, in all, the flavours did not disappoint, the fish was quite fresh and the sushis and the sashimis with their smoked salmon and cream cheese fillings were quite delicious. The teppanyaki did not rely on the entertaining jugglery that is classic in chains like Benihana and focused more on flavour though in some places they were more misses than hits. The salmon in the teppanyaki table could have been avoided. Adapting Japanese cuisine to suite the Indian palate is a challenging task and Chef Emmel has quite a daunting task ahead of him, but having tried his expertise with produce I am pretty sure he will catch the nerve pretty soon and will see more of me as a frequent customer at his restaurant.

Ratings out of 5

Food: 4 | Ambiance: 4 | Service: 4 | Overall: 4

Meal for Two without Alcohol: Rs.3000 Approximately plus taxes| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes|

Timing: 7 pm to 12 am

Address: JW Mariott, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai.

Tel: 022 6693 3000

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