by Vandana Verma
17 July 2013
Ambience Mall, third floor, Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasant Kunj. Next to Mistral and Chili’s.
Ph: +91.11. 4087.0798
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This Japanese (by way of Singapore) eatery is dim, date-ey and the real deal.
Dishing out quality sushi and sashimi is a tricky proposition in Delhi, with its extreme temperatures and variable food hygiene standards. Wasabi, Sakura and Threesixty° have consistently great Japanese food, but with nutso prices that make it an occasional indulgence, not a regular treat. Then there was Izakaya, which was great, but seems to moved (we’re told it hopped over to Vasant Vihar), and with its disappearance, left an unagi nigiri-shaped hole in our lives. Enter Sakae Sushi, who pull it off with high quality fish and a modish space. And with outlets all over the world, this crew knew their way around a sushi mat long before they brought their skills to Vasant Kunj’s Ambience Mall.
Outside it might be mall-fluorescent, but inside the restaurant is moodily lit, with booth-style and a central kaiten (conveyor belt), on which mini plates of sushi take a circuitous mechanical journey, so diners can pick what they (plates are colour coded, by price, and your server will tally plates at the end of the meal). We skipped the kaiten to order off-menu instead, and the Sakae salad yielded a forest of the good stuff: wakame, asparagus spears, broccoli, cucumber and lettuce, all doused in a sesame dressing. The salmon and avocado temaki was excellent, with buttery fish and creamy avocado dusted with roe and rolled into a chewy seaweed cone. An eight-strong serving of the spicy tuna uramaki (the reverse roll, where the rice is on the outside) had a gentle kick, and two unagi nigiri were exceptional, the thick cuts of eel torched just short of crispness, and gleaming with a dark soy and rice wine glaze. Fusion rolls, those American crowd-pleasers, are on the menu as well, although we gave them wide berth.
The tonkatsu donburi is literally a meal in a bowl, with tender pork cutlets, breaded, fried and sitting atop egg and glutinous rice, glossy with fat and possessing a satisfying pigginess. And next time we’ll go at lunchtime, so we can give the bento box a go: Rs 795 for the veggie version, and Rs 895 for the meaty one buys you a main course of choice, potato salad, Japanese pickle, steamed rice and nimono (a simmered vegetable dish).
Our meal (for two) cost us a grand total of Rs 3,200, which is, I think you’ll agree, not bad at all for all that we’d consumed. And yes, the menu is long, and can be overwhelming, but there is sake to help calm you down while you decide.