The pronunciation this time is ‘Saa…key’, the restaurant named after the famous ‘Rice wine’, which serves cuisines from Singapore, Bali, Japan, Thailand, China…and as Chef Binesh proudly says, ‘our Restaurant is a cooking theatre….we provide a Continent on a platter.’
The restaurant tastefully done has three live counters where one can sit to sample exotic Japanese delights like Sushi, Sashimi, Teppanyaki and Yakitori. For someone who is still not comfortable with the thought of eating ‘raw’ food…you see when we talk of Japanese, that immediate thought comes into one’s mind, I looked askance at this young and interactive chef with apprehension.
He smiles conspiratorially and says, ‘ leave it to me.’ And so we did. How did Teppanyaki cuisine come into being, I wondered, as we wait for the starters? It was the Mongolian warriors who in the past, would use their shields over brick fires to cook chopped vegetables as they traveled for miles conquering their enemies. ‘Thank God something is being cooked,’ I think to myself. Joe frowns. I know what that means. As someone who is supposed to write about food, one should be open to anything. Well in for a penny, might get a pound. I can see those smirks as I write this. No my friends, it is not the ample pounds that I tend to acquire every time some enterprising chef displays his culinary skills.
The starters arrive, Fried Sushi Roll and crunchy tempura. That seemed fine the Tempura was crispy and as the name crunchy. We polished off the plate to the recommendation of ‘mixing a little radish paste with the ginger paste’ and add a little Wasabi (my translation green dynamite) with soya sauce, as the accompaniment. ‘The prawns were delicious,’ Joe remarks. I do not think it was the Russian dancers that diluted his taste buds. I look at the menu…’we just had eel,’ I squeal. That is a jolt for individuals like me with a fixed mindset. Given a choice there was no way I would order eel…but the preparation was delicious. I run my eye down the different sushi available. One has a choice of Californian signature rolls like Caterpillar…cucumber and avocado, spider…crispy soft shell crab, crunchy…that is what we had….crispy eel tempura.
‘Now its time to sample the Teppanyaki style of preparation,’ says Chef Binesh. So we all sit around the gleaming hot plate grill to see our food being prepared. I have seen barmen en trance the customers with their flexibility in motion, I have seen chefs spin Roomali roti’s in the air…but here was a chef dexterously tossing the seasoning, using his spatula to drum a stacato as he turned the red snapper and tossed the Zucchini with the soya bean and the Terriyaki sauce…poetry in motion. And the preparation…..divine.
We savor every minute morsel....the fish soft and flaky, the seasoning awesome. If the Mongols had a knack for this type of cooking, no wonder they trudged miles on end without complaint. So would I. On the menu, one could sample a Teppanyaki set menu…your choice is Beach, Sand or Wind. Simply translated…you have a choice of Vegetarian, meats or seafood. Well Chef Binesh had managed to take the wind out of my sails.
It was now time to sample some more favorites on the menu. There was the Chicken Hot Basil a Thai preparation, Lamb brittles...Chinese style, and Kaow phad..Crab fried Rice. I look helplessly at the food so tantalizingly placed before us. But that lamb brittles…my old Chinese favorite with the fried rice, was a perfect ending. I promised myself that I would shake a leg with those Russian dancers before we left.
‘How much can one eat?’ I complain looking at Chef Vimal and Chef Binesh. ‘We offer all this and more with sparkling wine and juices every Sunday for brunch,’ they confide. More?....I look at them in horror. Does one have the capacity to eat more? Well they offer a choice of soups…Thai and Chinese, Chinese or Japanese…you take your pick, meat, seafood, vegetables, Rice, noodles, salads, desserts from 12 pm to 3.00 pm and then one can take his well deserved siesta.
Chef Vimal has this to say….. ‘If you like to eat to your hearts content, you have come to the right place.’ I have only this to add. If you want to follow his advice for the Sunday brunch…for Goodness Sake, don’t eat the night before.