A Japanese sushi that uses raw fish is an acquired taste for most Indians who love to bhuno their food. Japan is one country that is very close to nature and even worships it. Their food, hence, is one of the healthiest and requires very little cooking However, one of the tastiest words, ‘umami’, comes from the Japanese dictionary that means ‘pleasant, savoury taste’.
I am at Eest (a Pan Asian restaurant) at Westin, Gurgaon for a Californian Sushi Roll meal. Californian sushi roll is a twist on the classic and not only uses nori sheet inside out but also experiments with lots of veggies and cheese. Since these sushi rolls were first made in Los Angeles in California, the name comes as no surprise.
I have been to both California and Japan on foodie explorations and can confidently say that one of the finest Japanese meals that I have had outside of Japan is cooked under the supervision of Chef Hashimoto who spearheads the Japanese Kitchen at Eest. And while we may complain that very few people in Japan can communicate in English, Chef Hashimoto can easily embarrass many Indians with his expertise in Hindi.
Instead of going only with Sushi, we sit at the Chef’s table (a table inside the kitchen of the restaurant) where Chef Hashimoto serves a special tasting menu every Saturday. The menu is moderately priced at Rs. 3,500 inclusive of IMFL though we order some of the things apart from the tasting menu too. As a palate cleanser, we are served spicy wheat miso with wasabi and cucumber. If you have never experienced the umami flavors, this dish will help you understand the term.
The sashimi platter is as fresh as one can get in Delhi. Be it the Tuna or Scallop or Salmon or Octopus or Amberjack (from Atlantic and Pacific oceans, this is an extra lean fish with firm texture and mild flavors), every fish is at its best. Oden soup served with boiled egg, fish cakes and scallops with spicy Japanese Mustard (Karashi) is a great dish for winters and the flavorful broth that consists of mirin and dashi says lots about the expertise of the chef.
The meals are paired with wines that are carefully selected. Amongst the three pouring wines, my favorite is the Dr. Burklin Wolf Reisling whose acidity cuts through the sashimi meats and also complements the sushi.
I have not had a better Chawanmushi than at Eest even in Japan – this is a big statement. Since this is basically an egg custard that is had as a main dish, it is already a bit salty from the eggs that are used. At most places I have had Chawanmushi, the saltiness has always been a bit more than I like. Not here ! The Chawanmushi here is quite a mouthful with shitake, prawns, chicken, asparagus, dried baby sardine and sea kelp. Please note that all those who have always enjoyed custard as a dessert may find it revolutionary and most have never liked it in the first go. So if you are trying it for the first time, don’t order more than one for the table. If you like the taste, go for it.
Finally, we move on to the rolls that are served with 6 pcs to each serving and priced between Rs. 700 to Rs. 990 for a variant. While I have tried many types of Californian rolls, here there are so many options that have never been there on my plate before. Maharaja Rolls are a combination of sautéed lamb with spicy teriyaki sauce. Yes, lamb in a sushi and the combination goes so well that one will have to eat it to believe it.
PS : Generally powder wasabi is served with sushi, but if you ask then fresh wasabi paste is also served at no extra cost.
Taran Tura Rolls are soft shell fried crabs with iceberg. They are topped with expensive (nearly Rs.10,000 per packet) flying fish roe that adds to the crunch and taste. The iceberg is just on two of the six sushis and if not on the sushi, I would like it to be served on the side to get a similar bite in every roll.
My favorite sushi is the Dynamite Roll. The Philadelphia cheese with jalapeno, wasabi and shichimi (Japanese red chilly) is love at first bite. The Americans love cheese and how beautifully they have used it in the sushi. I am a hardcore non vegetarian and if I can love it so much, it will definitely be a favorite of all vegetarians too.
The Chef also showed us the Ayu fish that he grills so that it looks like a dancing fish. Westin is one of the very places in India that serves this Japanese river fish that can only be caught during June & July as per the government guidelines. While Japanese may love this fish, I find the skin to be bitter while the flesh inside is sweet. It will take me some time to start liking it.
To end the meal one can go for the mango sushi that also has avocado and tomatoes and uses gari water. But if you are in the mood for something experimental, ask for the Choku Dumpling from the Thai Kitchen. It is basically a chocolate dumpling made in rice flour and steamed. Topped with grated coconut and dipped in milkmaid, you won’t ask for a better ending.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.5 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs. 5000 | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 12.00 pm to 3 pm, 7.00 pm to Midnight | Wheelchair Access: Yes
Address: Eest, The Westin Gurgaon, IFFCO Chowk, Gurgaon | Phone: 0124-4977777
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.