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EAT + DRINK / Delhi / Restaurants
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Guppy by ai

by Vandana Verma

9 September 2013

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.

With its contemporary décor and delicious cuisine, AD Singh’s new spot is, in a word, fantastic.

When aiGuppy's now-defunct forebearshut down, the capital's sushi-saké-and-soba enthusiasts lost a favourite haunt. But from the look of things, the restaurateur’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 playfully 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.

When we visited we started with little bowls of miso soup, and progressed to spicy tuna and salmon rolls, and thin-sliced tenderloin tataki, sitting atop ribbons of julienned leeks and mesclun and dressed in a drizzle of ponzu-soy. The agedashi tofu was sublime: crisp-fried, creamy, cubed and topped with a tart dressing as well as a mini pile-up of chilli and green onion, while the chirashi seafood salad, with pickled prawn, tuna, salmon and crabstick and baby greens in a sesame gomae dressing, was impeccably fresh. 

Service is generally snappy, so we didn’t have to wait long for our exotic mushroom gyoza – steamed rice flour pot stickers that were pan-fried on one side, both crisp and chewy. Crowd-pleasers like the tiger prawn tempura have been enlivened with a sprinkling of garlic crisps and served with a spicy mayo, while the crisp vegetable harumaki were the only bum note in an exemplary meal – vegetable filo rolls that were baked in the oven, and tasted like nothing so much as a Turkish filo roll.

Save room for at least one order of sushi rolls (take your pick, the kitchen do them all exceedingly well) and the signature pork belly, which is prepared for 72 hours, and served in cubes of such melting, candied softness that I’m still thinking about them days later. And please finish with the warm carrot cake, little slabs of dense dessert, crowned in an excellent cream cheese icing.