Atmospherics: In what used to be the lobby level bar of the hotel, Japanese food is now served. The result is a trifle unexpected, because the interiors are a little dim and the seating is ideal for lounging rather than dining, but as a charming surprise, it works wonderfully well. Of course, the space still operates as a bar, but now the focus has become the Japanese menu. As menus go, this one does not follow a set pattern and caters to modern and traditional Japanese. There is sushi, sashimi, light soup, noodles, fried rice done on a teppanyaki grill, small plates consisting of modern takes on traditional snacks and western-style main courses (without rice). There is one ramen option and an omakase option, without a price mentioned – it is obviously as flexible as you want it to be. There are traditional ingredients used in novel ways and completely non-Japanese ingredients used in age-old preparations. It all appears to be the brainchild of Chef Shubham Thakur who has worked all his professional life in Japanese kitchens. Weekday lunches are fixed sushi and teppanyaki meals.
Table talk: Yakimono sweet potato (Rs 950) is an out-of-the-box way of preparing an ingredient in the traditional way, using the humble root vegetable. The result is stunning: the char marks on each baton of sweet potato is from its contact with a red-hot metal grill and the subtle taste of salt, pepper and tobanjan that has been sprinkled over it. I cannot recommend Chicken karaage soy ramen (Rs 1250) highly enough. Everything from the umami-laden dashi (stock) to the firm, chewy noodles to the barely cooked through egg – is a masterpiece and is highly recommended as a complete meal in this weather. Needless to say, there is a vegetarian version too. There is no better way of getting bang for your buck, than by ordering a small plate to be shared at the table to see the chef’s mastery over the cuisine (crispy tuna (Rs 1550) is a good place to start) and follow it up with a carb-rich dish like udon, soba or fried rice to fill you up. My seafood fried rice (Rs 1250) was packed with shrimp and scallops!
Must try: miso chicken salad; black cod yuzu miso; caramel coffee
Food: 4, Service: 3.75, Décor: 3.75
The Lodhi, CGO Complex, Lodi Road
Open: 12.30 to 3 pm and 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm
Alcohol served; credit cards
Meal for two: Rs 3,000