Japanese food has a very quaint charm if you ask my opinion. The fresh vegetables, light flavors and seafood is what I crave for and gari and seaweed is my weakness. I love the subtlety of oriental flavors, the herbs and the light sauces and the way vegetables are served, barring the tempura. It sums up the way I look at this cuisine. Yes I don't like tempura as much as others do, and would reach out for sushi, the fresh vegetable salads and rice paper rolls and miso soups more than tempura.
Guppy by Ai is the new Japanese food destination in the city and you would realise it is already abuzz as you spot a few who's who of the city while you dine. But that would be after you have absorbed all the design elements of this place. Many quaint corners with small aroma lamps, fresh Gerberas in cute miniature watering cans, origami patterns on the walls, framed kimonos and beautiful lamps all around.
Some rustic elements, some nature, burst of colours and loads of Japanese figurines, faces and masks, antique knickknacks perched over wooden shelves along with utility cutlery etc. Conversation inspiring, very cozy and very chic.
Sound of flowing water makes you look around and you see a nice red kettle spouting water in a basin, so artistically done, the flow of Chi, the life force. I fell in love with the place. The colors so nature oriented, the sounds so calming. That will be when the place is not full to the brim though, we had to block our ears to a constant loud banter of another guest seated close to us. But that didn't make us miss what great things were there for us.
Good that we had planned this visit with Deeba and her husband (Mr. PAB, as known to her readers), it really turned out to be a cozy dinner.
Chef Vaibhav Bhargava decided to treat us with his selection of menu while we decided our mocktails. Arvind decided to have Southern Elle (Macerated lime, Orange soda and Sprite), Mr. PAB opted for Guppy's Iced green tea. Deeba's favorite is cranberry so she chose Currant affairs (black currant, Cranberry juice and sour mix). I wanted some pineapple and chose Sip Sensation (Strawberry with Pineapple juice, coconut and Grenadine).
Mr. PAB found his green tea insipid, it was green in colour strangely. Arvind liked his drink as it was enough a citrus rush for him, I found mine to be too sweet and thick, Sip Sensation could have been a little lighter and more pineapple and grenadine may be. Deeba also found the Currant affairs to be a bit sweet but good enough.
But the nibble that accompanied our mocktails was incredible. Edemame sea salt chilly garlic was an instant hit. There were mature Edemame legumes and you have to squish the seeds out of it, we loved it from the word go.
Next came the Guppy House Salad, seasonal crunchy vegetables, palm hearts and bamboo shoots dressed in karashi mustard. The toasted sesame on this salad was perfect crunch along with slices of radish and beets.
Chirashi Seafood Salad was an assortment of pickled prawn, tuna, salmon, crab and baby
greens in goma-ae dressing. This is one of those seafood salad where you get the fresh crunch of vegetables in each mouthful, complemented by tiny bursts of fish roe. Flying roe looked beautiful and the salad was rich with the toasted sesame flavor of the dressing.
Mushroom Gyoza was a gluten-free, crisp bottom steamed pot stickers, served with ponzu soy dipping sauce. These were triangular and the pastry was very delicate. I wouldn't personally care for gluten free but it is a good choice for those who do. The mushroom stuffing was great and the tart ponzu was not needed as such. I loved the Prawns Gyoza dipped in ponzu better. Everyone loved it, I would like the dumpling steamed better than pan fried always. But that is a personal choice.
What was more refreshing were these beautiful rice paper rolls with shredded vegetables and some lettuce peeping through. It had an interesting sesame based yuzu kosho dipping sauce with it. The toasted sesame sprinkling on the rolls intensifies the sesame flavors. Loved it, very interesting combination of textures and flavors here.
I didn't like the Crisp Vegetable Harumaki much. Although I know many people would love it just for the crisp texture of the filo pastry baked well, for me it just masks the vegetables inside. Arvind loved it obviously. Lovely plating I must add.
The vegetarian counterpart was much more interesting. Chilly Lime Dressed Agedashi Tofu was loved by all. Crisp fried silken tofu, dressed in sweet and spicy chilly lime dressing is very flavorful and satisfying. One could make a meal out of it.
The sushi and sashimi platter is definitely a must try at Guppy. You get nice vegetarian options in sushi and I like vegetarian sushi as much as tuna or salmon. The fresh vegetables, the nori, the sticky rice and the toasted sesame make magic together, be it with fish or vegetables.
A Japanese Vegetable Roll which is a yamagobo (vinegared red ginger), asparagus and kimchi dressing, is wonderfully fresh and light.
Asparagus Tempura Roll is made with Spicy mayo and leeks, equally good.
California Roll is made with Crab, cucumber, avocado and tobiko (flying fish roe) was the best for my taste. A wonderful mix of textures and flavors.
Spicy Salmon Special Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll both are great.
Teriyaki Glazed Artichoke and Tofu is good but nothing special for my taste buds. The soy glazed grilled artichoke and tofu, served on a bed of asparagus has great seasoning, fresh vegetables that I like, but tinned artichoke is something I would avoid. Tofu was nothing exceptional as well.
I loved the Wok Tossed Exotic Teppan Vegetable which is a platter of wok tossed bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, beans and asparagus, glazed with sesame soy. This was a wonderful surprise for a simple looking vegetable stir fry. I would order it again when I go next. Sesame soy seasoning is addictive and the multiple textures with different vegetables is just mid blowing.
The Guppy Signature Black Cod is served with a drama element. A huge round stone which is incredibly hot is placed over a wooden block and the fish fillet is perched atop.
The heat radiates till your face. The server would ask politely to serve it for you as it's too hot, please allow him to do so, as it really is tricky.
The fish which is a baked miso marinated black cod leaves you wanting for more. Very flaky, doused with miso and soft as feather. Gone in a second.
Grilled Jumbo Prawn is lovely. I prefer small prawns and shrimps more for the flavor, but this one is cooked so well and the seasoning is so perfect, you would fall in love. With the assorted vegetables with pepper garlic seasoning this tastes perfect.
The dessert was a Warm Carrot Cake with Mascarpone frosting. Good cake which is really soft and the mascarpone is almost melting when it reaches your table. But somehow the cake didn't work for us. I normally don't eat cakes but this one even Arvind didn't like. Now this is a sad situation when a certified sweet tooth denounces a cake.
No the cake is not bad, it just isn't the way we like carrot cakes.
Leaving you with some more pictures of this beautiful place.
The place mat had an origami diagram. More origami on the walls.
And the little corners where you spot interesting conversation pieces strewn like a story.
Next time I am going there in day time. It is a nice place to hang out, have a filling snack or a light meal, some good tea or a mocktail and feel refreshed and energized.
I recommend the place even when you are on a diet as you get so many options to choose from. All good quality ingredients cooked to perfection so even a small meal gives you the utmost satisfaction.