Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blogger's Table at Guppy by Ai ~ Delhi's Newest Tryst With Japanese Cuisine

Guppy by Ai is Chef Vikram Khatri's baby, another restaurant by AD Singh. The promise of contemporary Japanese food in Delhi, heartfelt invite, and the opportunity to meet friends over dinner prompted me to accept the invite for the Blogger's table by Chef at Large.  Japanese is just about Sushi and raw food is the belief Guppy is out to bust.

The interiors done by Anshu Arora give the place a wonderful vibe with a stunning play of colours, props, art work and lighting. We visited the restaurant for dinner, hence the slightly dim pictures, am sure by the day it would look soothing and playful. The ceramic rose knobs, use of Origami and metal to make lights(done by Jenny Pinto) Japanese kokeshi dolls, vintage cameras, old tiffin boxes and more such Japanese memorabilia  add a chic value to the place. No 2 corners look alike, yet the theme is flowing along like a rivulet. What I found odd was a plastic sheets used to curtain off their lounge. it's not something I would have expected in a place like this.

Who is behind the stove cooking is an important question along with the food being prepared. Who better than some who is dedicated to the cuisine and a warm person, always willing to go the extra mile to make his guests smile. Chef Vaibhav and I have had our share of cuisine clicks. Then and Now.....

The menu reflects the spirit embodied in Guppy... The colourful, spirited yet clean design.

Chef Khatri and Chef Vaibhav both welcome us with an amuse of Tomato and jasmine tea served with a prawn cracker with pickled vegetables dressed in goma dressing and seasoned with furikake(Japanese seasoning) for the non vegetarians and Tomato and jasmine tea with Seasame cracker with pickled vegetables dressed in goma dressing and seasoned with aao nori and shichimi for the vegetarians. The amuse did it's job well by setting the tone for what was coming ahead.

Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese, "seven flavor chili pepper"), also known as nana-iro togarashi,  and simply shichimi, is a common Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients.
A typical blend may contain coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), ground sansho, roasted orange peel, black sesame seed, white sesame seed, hemp seed, ground ginger, nori or aonori. Source

Small plates 
Edamame Sea Salt/Chilli Garlic(Steamed soybean pods with an option of sea salt or chilli garlic dressing) were a thumbs up. Sushmita and Aishwarya were happy to see the bowl thru at an addictive pace. The salty and garlicyyyyyy flavour were a hit with me. It won a repeat order when we visited again. The pace at which these beans vanish while chatting with friends is astounding.

Guppy House Salad (Seasonal crunchy vegetables, palm heart and bamboo shoot, dressed in karashi mustard) was fresh and it mustard dressing won my heart. Yes, I'm biased, mustard is a flavor i really like.

Chirashi Seafood salad (Assortment of pickled prawn, tuna, salmon, crab and baby greens in goma-ae dressing) the seafood was fresh. With some encouragement Aishwarya tried the seafood and was soon convinced that she would order again. Her delightful look at the Roe popping in her mouth amused us all. Going back again with a friend, I was very happy to order it again and was served the same consistent taste.

Prawn Gyoza (Black tiger prawn pot stickers, pan fried, served with chilli ponzu soy sauce) and Exotic Mushroom Gyoza (Gluten-free, crisp bottom steamed pot stickers, served with chilli soy dipping sauce) were wonderfully done. The flavours went well with the dipping sauces, especially the ponzu sauce. These pot sticking delights are a definite winner for me.

Crisp Vegetable Harumaki (Exotic vegetable filo rolls, crisp baked in oven and served with chilli garlic) and Rice Paper Vegetables Roll (Shredded vegetables and lettuce, wrapped in rice paper with yuzu kosho sesame sauce) were disappointing for me. The vegetable rolls were to oily for the description given.

Chilli Lime Dressed Agedashi Tofu (Crisp fried silken tofu, dressed in sweet and spicy chilli lime dressing) was interesting but couldn't hold my fancy as it was a bit oily. That said, it's dressing was absolutely wonderful.

Sushi Rolls - Spicy Salmon Special Roll (Spicy mayo, tobiko and tanuki) and Asparagus Tempura Roll (Spicy mayo and leeks) were neat, precise and just like they should be. Would have loved to the the Guppy twist on them

Guppy Signature Pork Belly (Slow braised Belgium pork belly, glazed with soy honey and served with mustard miso sauce) is cooked for over 72 hours told us Chef Khatri. There are pictures of this I caught simmering away quietly in the kitchen. The glaze was balance of  flavours which went well with the meat.

Guppy Signature Black Cod (Baked miso marinated black cod served on a hot stone) The star of this show was the baked Black Cod which arrived, sizzling on a large smooth pebble, locking in the flavors. outside was a nice char while the inside were soft and flaky.

The classic way we eat in is when the food put on the table is the star. It's photographed, discussed, visually eaten before being devoured.

Desserts were Warm Carrot Cake (Carrot cake served with mascarpone frosting) which tasted very nice with the frosting but would have preferred for it to be lighter and Yuzu Lemon Cheesecake (with Kafir lime glaze) left me a bit wanting. We were also spoilt with Nutty Clusters, Pyramids of chocolates filled with chocolate ganache and balls of Red Velvet cake paired with desiccated coconut.

A peek into their kitchen, small yet clean, neat and well organised. people who are happy cooking and have smiles on their faces after a long and hard day at work will surely produce fantastic food where the smile passes onto the diner's face..... That's what I call a D-E-L-I-G-H-T-F-U-L meal....

Thank you for hosting us Guppy and a huge shout out to Chef Vaibhav for being a wonderful host and Chef Khatri for convincing me that vegetarian Japanese can be equally flavorful. This team with it's hard work should certainly go places.

Will I return to this place?
Certainly yes.... and I did. Went for a quiet dinner with a friend, where the table which wasn't booked in my name. The food and service was equally consistent as our blogger's table. Suggested the place to cousins, who also came back praises for the place.

Wishing the team at Guppy all the best.