Yakiniku at Hyatt Regency Chennai gets a new menu with exotic flavours all the way from Japan
Chef Asep Hendra was at work at the live counter. At the cosy 24-seater Yakiniku, the Japanese specialty restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Chennai, last week, we all watched with bated breath as some gentle oriental music played in the background. Following his artistic vision, the Salmon Avocado tartare transforms from a plain-Jane disc to an exotic garden blossoming with crunchy lotus chips, edible flowers and glistening roe, even as he adds another delicate component with tweezers. A spoonful sent us spiralling into a delightful roller-coaster of flavours — where the creamy base was complemented with the burst of fishy roe and crunch of the chips.
Petals & drama
Chef Asep was visiting from Park Hyatt Hyderabad, to curate and celebrate the new menu with a two-week festival where he enthralled us with some contemporary Japanese cuisine that could very well be called art pieces. However, while our preoccupation with the aesthetics is rather obvious — the Chef’s true strength lies in the beauty of the fresh ingredients and mesmerising flavours. For instance, the Asari No Sakamushi soup we had earlier was all about the simplicity. The clear broth had steamed clams at the bottom of the bowl — like flower petals hinged with bits of meat. The drama began with the first sip — with hints of sake and ginger, we slurped up the warmth and deliciousness without pausing for conversation.
From Japan, with love
All the ingredients are imported from the morning markets of Japan, including the freshly grated wasabi that we couldn’t have enough of. Here are Chef Asep Hendra’s top five favourites:
Yuzu | Miso paste | Cooking sake | Mrin (rice wine) | Yellow tail | Unagi kabayaki (baked eel)
Sushi for the soul
The Exotic Seafood Ceviche has fillets, slices and curls of Salmon, tuna and scallops cured in lime — the base is a sunshine yellow dip of yuzu citrus and we swipe up the last smudge of the sauce in delight. From the chef’s signature maki platter we find ourselves popping delightful rolls of Tempura Asparagus with mamenori san (soya paper wrap) and then lingering over the seared tuna and salmon of the moshi-moshi in eel sauce. Chef’s signature, the Samurai has beautifully plated bite-sized rolls of tuna, dotted with tempura flakes and wasabi sauce — forcing us to behold it for a moment (just a moment) before we ate it hurriedly in greed. The Yellow Tail steals every other dish’s thunder — as the dainty and exquisite folds of hamachi carpaccio drenched in sweet soya sauce win us over with finesse in favour and technique.
All is well
The chef lets on that the flaky and exquisite Black Cod served with Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice) was marinated in saikyo miso for 48 hours to get that sweetish and sigh-worthy flavour. Despite our protests, serving us the Kakejiru o kakiage udon noodles, the chef who hails from Indonesia tells us knowingly, “You will be surprised how light you feel after this dish!” Nevertheless, we approached the bowl with disbelief and soon are tucking into humble-pie along with the plump wheat noodles, seaweed and mushrooms — because as foretold, the broth magically brings forth a gratifying sense of lightness and well being, making us eager to tackle any culinary adventure that might await us on the morrow.
Meal for two at INR 3,000 plus taxes.