Maruti Suzuki Dishes out Japanese Fusion Food with TV Chef Vicky Ratnani

There are few brands in India, and perhaps none in the automotive sector better known than Maruti Suzuki. The brand  has been around for decades since introducing the car that changed  our perspective and altered the path of auto design in India – The Maruti 800.

Brands however that have been  in the country for as long as Maruti Suzuki has, tend to blur somewhat in the minds of consumers, especially given the onslaught of different marques across the many types of media all of us are exposed to in this age of the Internet and constant connectivity.

In the case of Maruti Suzuki, it might just be possible that its very respectable, even envious origins in a partnership with Suzuki, an iconic Japanese brand, may be inadvertently ignored in favour of the brand’s overwhelming presence in India – its decades old avatar of an Indian brand. Thing is, Maruti Suzuki would like its consumers to keep its Japanese attributes in mind, that set it apart from nearly every other automotive brand in the marketplace – efficiency, technical superiority and a very well defined work ethic, among others.

So, what did the brand do to evoke memories of a Japanese day among its audience? It turned to yet another quintessential Japanese and Indian favourite – food!

I visited Mahalakshmi Racecourse at Mumbai this past week, the venue for a popular food oriented event – Eat, Play, Love, where Maruti Suzuki set up what was quite an eye catching structure –Maruti Suzuki Brakepoint Cafe! Conceptualised internally, Brakepoint Cafe offers patrons a small menu with food and drink, with each of the dishes featuring at least one ingredient considered inseparable from Japanese cuisine. More on that later.

Beginning from the outside, nearly every element in the cafe’s design borrows from automotive technology, logistics or design. The walls of the cafe come from the metal containers used to transport cars, the graffiti adorning these walls are reminiscent of Japanese and Indian styles and the interiors, including the tables, seating and other elements, utilise parts of vintage Maruti Suzuki car models. When was the last time you ate at a cafe, with your knees nudging a full-scale, real car engine? The venue also offers engagement and interaction for visitors who can indulge in all manner of games as well as leave behind their mark on a wall specially made for the spraying of designs using cans of paint and various stencils. That, free parking for those who drive up in a Maruti Suzuki automobile and of course, the donation of food to the needy in cars specially designated by Maruti Suzuki as ‘Care Carriers’ all add up to quite a warm campaign by the brand that engages, differentiates as well as supports and helps the needy.

In the menu, you’ll find drinks made with chia seeds (a recently introduced Japanese favourite), green tea and other Japanese favourites that are reasonably priced as well as quite refreshing. I loved the Green Tea Mojito most of all and do suggest you try that wherever you see the cafe next. Yes! BrakingPoint Cafe will travel to different food festivals across the country and is likely to reach a location close to you. The food included different types of Japanese concepts, including some lovely Yakitori skewers (Chicken Teriyaki), wobby, soft tofu flash fried with tempura batter for crisp outer skins, placed in a small pool of warm Japanese soya and accompanied by slices vegetable makizushi rolls, sweet potato and cottage cheese coated with panko and fried to a crisp finish, extra crispy chicken breast drizzled with a reduction of Japanese soya sauce and much more.

I’m sure you’ll have a great time with your family at the cafe (your kids will love the decor!) when it pops up at a food festival in your city, as well as return with a tummy full of delicious dishes influenced by Japanese cuisine in addition to remembering the many advantages that being half Japanese brings to a brand… and our lives.

Sid Khullar

Sid is the primary contributor to and editor of Chef at Large. A self confessed food addict who likes cooking, writing and photography… and travel, if it gets him closer to a good book and interesting food. He’s spent 21 years in varying functions of technology, leaving the field after a stint heading software research & development for electrophysiological medical diagnostics. He now applies himself to learning more about food and building food and beverage brands online for Brands at Large clients.

Sid covers Delhi/NCR for Chef at Large and can be reached at [email protected]

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