For the longest time, I have been hearing about Edo, ITC Gardenia’s specialty Japanese restaurant, from friends who have been visiting since it opened its doors. So, last month, when the opportunity presented itself to partake of a specially curated, 7-course meal, said friends, my date for the evening and I made our way over with every expectation of a grand meal. And disappointed, we were not. Trite as it may sound to some, this was not just about eating Japanese food. This was a dining experience, a meal for the senses. Which is very much in keeping with the way the Japanese approach their food, anyhow!
Now there is something just a bit naughty about banging on the table and yelling and doing a bomb, as you sit in fine dine surroundings at one of Bangalore’s top hotels! This, however, is exactly how we began our evening, with a Soju Bomb: glass of chilled beer, about half full, is topped with a pair of chopsticks, upon which a Soju cup, filled to the brim with the potent rice liquor, is further balanced. After a one-two-three countdown in Japanese, everyone bangs on the table, the chopsticks displace and the Soju goes ‘plop’ into the beer. At which point, we were instructed to pick up our glasses and go for broke. Yours truly managed to drain her glass first, and we all agreed that this was a most entertaining and warming way to begin the meal! Not that we stopped there – flavored Soju Tinis kept us company through the evening.
As I would expect from a Japanese meal, there was attention to detail, extended to all aspects of plating too – every morsel we ate that night was presented beautifully and had us in anticipation of the next course. We started off with Zenzai, which featured a trio of proteins that set the tone in terms of elegance, flavor and quality. Aigamo Butter Ponzu, sous vide of duck breast with shiitake mushrooms and butter, a shot glass layered with Kanpachi Shishozuke (Yellow Tail with Shisho) and Chuka Kuragae (jellyfish), and Avacado Tamari (fatty tuna with avocado) adorned with salmon roe. For Sashimi, we were presented with young Yellow Tail and Fatty Tuna, sliced finely, while the Sushi offerings included Samurai, Rainbow maki and Sweet Shrimp nigiri. A special mention here for the Wasabi – fresh, not processed, with the root brought to the table and grated, giving it a much smoother and less punch in the gut aspect than its bright green cousin! And finally, I got to enjoy Sushi and Sashimi of the highest order, something I have missed after all those years of beach side indulgence at sushi bars in San Diego!
NOT JUST EDAMAME
The soup course brought with it Hokkaido scallop, edamame, roe and mushroom arranged prettily on a soup plate, and then the green liquified edamame was poured over this base. I could easily and happily have consumed a second portion of this; what a fantastic meld of flavors, strong on mushrooms I might add, was that! Yakimono course of surf and turf meant a brilliant Angus Beef grilled to perfection and Sweet Miso marinated Black Cod. Next was a dish that took a few bites to get used to, but once I got started, I could not put my spoon down until I scraped the bowl. This Japanese egg custard, Chawanmushi, came adorned with mushrooms and edamame beans, and had a dashi base. And it had a special treasure of the sea in its midst – a perfect morsel of Unagi, freshwater eel.
NIRVANA, I MEAN NIMONO
Pork belly is always welcome, and when cooked and flavored as delicately as what Master Chef Kamlesh presented us with, was, there was silence punctuated by happy sounds while we all dug into the Kuro Buta Kakuni. And hard as it is to believe, the dish that appeared next actually was both the perfect foil as well as worthy competitor to the pork belly – Ume Chazuke, green tea flavored rice with Japanese pickled plum and a beautiful piece of salmon, garnished with sesame, wakame (seaweed) and scallions.
UNUSUAL BUT DELICIOUS!
The dessert course, Mizugashi, was another trio – ah, the symmetry of ending the way we began – of Goma aka Black Sesame ice cream, Green Tea creme brule and Yuzu Cheesecake. The creme brulee was topped with a green tea cookie, and the flavors within both were just spectacular – light yet lingering on the tongue. The ice cream, unusual as it was, was delicious, and the Japanese style cheesecake was everything one could ask for. I am a cheesecake junkie, and have gotten into the Japanese version, which is much lighter and airier than its American/European counterpart.
This was a meal for the books, one we discussed all the way home, told our friends about, and will relish in memory too. So, the next time a craving for authentic and high quality Japanese food hits, you know where to head. Or you know, to celebrate a special moment, birthday or anniversary, to the tune of a beautiful meal. It will be a sensory experience and trust me, one your senses will definitely thank you for!