A recent press release on Indian food freak caught my attention which referred to a Cherry Blossom Japanese food festival at the very beautiful hotel located close to the international airport – The Leela.
Leela Palace in Delhi is well known for its very popular Japanese restaurant, Megu, but I had no idea that the Mumbai property also had a Japanese offering, so I decided to check it out. Citrus restaurant in The Leela is their all day dining which mainly serves an extensive buffet line up of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Little did I know that it also has a Japanese section which serves an amazing array of a la carte meals? They are currently also running the Bento Box Festival where they are serving an assortment of different dishes at a very reasonable price.
I am a sucker for warm Sake and here too I started off the evening with warm Sake which was light and very aromatic, the jasmine aroma wafting and hit the nose and then the warm fuzzy feeling of the alcohol burning through the stomach was quite a fun experience and a perfect way to begin the evening.
The Lettuce, Avocado and Tofu Salad had a mirin and soya based dressing which was tangy and bit sharp but quite refreshing on a summer evening. We were also served a platter of Baked Crabs topped with salmon roe along with a creamy sweet and tangy sauce which was quite addictive and I had to literally force myself to stop and move one to the next dish which was a Platter of thin slices of hamachi fish in a ginger and ponzu sauce. The raw slices of the fish were complimented very well with the delicate and extremely aromatic sauce and I licked off the platter within no time. This certainly shared the spot for the best dish along with the baked crabs.
And then came the Bento Box! The portion size of this box was quite big and I was glad to see a fair mix of dishes including a light but a bit over seasoned Miso Soup and an extremely subtle and delicious mix of spring vegetables cooked in a broth of sake and soya (Yasai Nimono).
There was a crispy fried chicken (Tori Kara-age) which, though very juicy and soft, could not be relished as I found the batter undercooked and pasty. Next I tried the Ika Shogayaki which was squid cooked in a light ginger and soy sauce mix , I found this to be quite average as some pieces of squids were soft and melt in the mouth and some very slightly chewy.
The box also had a beautiful heart shaped lump of sticky rice which had salmon filling in the centre (Onigiri Ume) and a piece of salmon filet grilled with teriyaki sauce (Yaki Zakhana). Now those of you who are fond of salmon, would know that cooking salmon can be extremely tricky as if it is even slightly overcooked, it tends to be very dry and flaky, and if it stays undercooked, then the inner pinkish parts and the exterior cooked parts do not do a happy dance. The salmon fillet in my bento box, however, was one of the most perfectly cooked pieces of salmon I have had of late and was cooked evenly retaining its moist juiciness throughout the piece and balanced very well with the teriyaki flavours. Needless to say, I was already bowled over.
The bento box also comes with 5 assorted Nigiris which were quite decent but nowhere in comparison to the salmon had I just had.
The Vegetarian Bento Box was equally enticing where the vegetarian rolls were interestingly rolled in soyabean paper instead of Nori which was quite a novel way of presenting the rolls as Nori at times lends a fishy smell to the rolls for those who are averse to seafood.
Apart from the bento box I also tried some Salmon Sushi and a Dynamite Roll which were not a part of the bento combo. The salmon sushi had crab sticks in the centre and created quite a wonderful play of textures and flavours in the mouth and the dynamite rolls topped with crunchy toppings and spicy sauce were worthy of their name as well.
This is certainly a place that I would add to my ‘GO-TO’ list when it comes to Japanese cuisine close to home. Though a bit high on price, the overall experience with Japanese food at Citrus was a wonderful affair and, having eaten to my heart’s content, I finally left for home in an absolutely Zen-like state.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4 | Ambience: 4 | Service: 4 | Overall: 4
Credit Card: Yes | Timings: | Meal for Two: : Rs. 5,000 (Rs.1,944++ for Non Veg /Rs.1,444++ for Veg for the Bento Box special which runs till the 31st May 2015) | Alcohol: Yes | Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: The Leela Mumbai, Sahar, Mumbai-400059. | Phone: 022 – 6691 1234
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgment and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.