Japanese bhang and unagi rolls; A new autumn menu
You're either a sushi person or you're not. There's no grey area here. But if you're looking to test the true potential of your palate, the Park's Japanese restaurant A2 is it. Their new Nipponshoku Matsuri menu is an autumn-inspired selection of traditional Japanese cuisine with a new age touch.
Chef Rahul Shrivastava, the hotel's sushi expert and curator of the autumn menu regales us over the exotic ingredients of the menu. "Sushi and sashimi are quintessentially Japanese but to add more authenticity we've added Sea Urchin (Uni), Mochi and Mitarshi Dango to the menu. Uni is a delicacy that's very rare in the city so we've included that," says the chef.
Our drinks come in first; a Sake Bomber, Wasabi twistter and Japanese Bhang. With our curiosity sufficiently piqued, we take a sip of each. The Sake Bomber, much like a Jaeger Bomber is a mix of Sake and beer. If you've got trouble with your sinuses, might we suggest the feisty Wasabi Twistter? A combination of Nikka whiskey, tequila, blood orange juice and of course, wasabi, the drink can kickstart any party. The Japanese Bhang is a take on the Indian beverage bhang, with a mix of Nikka whiskey, sake, mascarpone cheese (that's right!), basil and almonds.
An exhaustive menu of 17 dishes including the desserts, we are presented with the soups to begin our meal; Miso soup, Cucumber miso shiru, Japanese onion soup (Beef stock flavoured) and Buta Jiru (Pork flavoured). The cucumber miso shiru is subtle and refreshing flavour while the Buta Jiru has a strong pork flavour with bits of pancetta. A delicious Prawn Gyoza (the Japanese dim sum which is cooked in a pan and not steamed) was next, paired with Ponzu (a citrus soya-based sauce with yozo lemon) smoked carpaccio, salmon, tuna, squid, and octopus.
A beautiful selection of rolls was brought next; a smoky unagi roll, a sweet shiitake mushroom roll cooked in sake and soya, a mackerel roll and a sea urchin roll. All four had a distinct flavour from salty, to smoky to bitter. Sashimi was next on the menu with a salmon and tuna which was served with truffle miso delicately placed under a ponzu jelly.
The pièce de résistance was the Caterpillar Maki which had avocado, spicy aioli, cucumber, tanuki (fish eggs) and unagi. The Dragon Maki, another version, has stuffed prawn tempura, with torched salmon, spicy aioli and unagi sauce.
Both dishes are packed with multiple flavours and are visually gorgeous. To complete the meal, we had a red bean mochi (a glutenous japanese rice dough) which are sweetened rice flour dumplings stuffed with red bean paste and drizzled with honey. And Mitarshi Dango, grilled rice ball skewers glazed with sweet soy sauce.
Available for lunch and dinner at A2, The Park Chennai
Meal for two: Rs 2000