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EAT + DRINK / Delhi / Restaurants
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Guppy by ai

by Vandana Verma

14 May 2015

28 Lodhi Colony Main Market, Delhi.
Ph: +91.11.2469.0005
Open daily, noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am.
Meal for two (without alcohol) approximately Rs 4,000.

Super-fresh sushi and some of the city's best summer drinks, but that's not all you'll find at this cool shrine to Japanese cooking.

When aiGuppy's now-defunct forebearshut down, the capital's sushi-saké-and-soba enthusiasts lost a favourite haunt. But its replacement's dedication to high-quality Japanese cooking is as unswerving as ever.

Guppy’s been designed by Anshu Arora, the diminutive fashion designer whose playful touch clearly extends outside her clothing line; framed origami kimonos, suspended paper mâché heads, tomato red-painted windows lined with manga books and dip-dyed chairs transform this new restaurant into a Nipponese playpen. And everything about this new spot is transporting, from the windows that look out onto sunny Lodhi Colony market to the food, which is delicious.

The illustrated menu reveals that this isn’t the best bargain in town, but more budget-minded diners will be happy to know that there are set meals for lunchtime that are a little gentler on the pocket and still allow you a complete sampler of Guppy's offerings, via a bowlful of soup, another of super-fresh salad, a mini platter of excellent sushi, and your pick of a main course and either noodles or rice to go with.

On our most recent visit, to sample their new summer menu, we started with gorgeous little bowlfuls of smoky pumpkin soup-not an obvious pick when the mercury’s soaring, we thought-and were surprised by how light and refreshing it was, with a wonderful wafting smokiness in every mouthful. The salmon tartare is buttery and layered with avocado, the veggie tempura is as crisp as you’d expect, and the ramen noodles come chilled this season, topped with prawn and crabstick and drizzled with a sesame-vinegar broth.

There are also a couple of new cocktails on their menu that are light, clean, and so, so refreshing that they practically stand up and demand repeat orders themselves; the Plum Speckle, with gin, fresh plum, and basil, is a particular favourite, and probably one of the nicest drinks in the city, and if that one’s the nicest, the Kinomitini is certainly the prettiest, with fresh, blended berries, vodka, and lime, served in a wide coupe glass.

Service is generally snappy, so you won’t have to wait long as you sample their other, now-classic, offerings: try the mushroom gyoza, steamed rice flour pot stickers that are pan-fried on one side and manage to be both crisp and chewy, as well as excellently done spicy tuna and salmon rolls, thin-sliced tenderloin tataki, sitting atop ribbons of julienned leeks and mesclun and dressed in a drizzle of ponzu-soy, and am impeccably fresh chirashi seafood salad with pickled prawn, tuna, salmon and crabstick and baby greens in a sesame gomae dressing.

And it’s not a visit to Guppy without the signature pork belly, which is prepared for 72 hours, and served in cubes of such melting, candied softness that I end up thinking about them even days later.