Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shiro’s – an unwinding experience

Three tall geisha’s pouring out water, a Balinese mural depicting Hindu mythology, relaxing day beds loungers to unwind… up to the wee hours of the morning…yes it’s true. The up market ‘happening’ place has arrived in Goa. The sister concern of the original hip hop place in Mumbai. Shiro’s open Beach, of the Hard Rock Café’s (Mumbai) fame, is now at Sinquerim.

I had heard of the New Year’s bash, yes it had opened in December. 2000 people to be exact and counting. What did that restaurant have in store? we wonder as we make our way through the Marquis Beach Resort. Calm, quiet, relaxing are the adjectives that come to one’s mind. ‘We like people to unwind, relax as they eat and take in the lounge music,’ says the soft spoken General Manager Mr Puneet Sharma, with a smile, ‘a so called chill –out zone.’

I couldn’t agree with him more. For those who would like the table variety dining, there are tables scattered along the sea side, but we preferred to take him at his word and try lounging for dinner.

We look at the menu….Oriental cuisine. ‘Try the Kake Aage and the Cheese Rolls,’ recommend Mr Jothish the Asst Manager, ‘its one of our fastest moving items, you will like it.’

Sipping at a strawberry Daiquiri….’people have forgotten about straight drinks, once they try our cocktails,’ states Puneet, ‘our bar recipe’s are internalized, we have created a niche of our own.’ How very true.

The starters arrive. Only I would not think of tit bits. The portions are big. The Pilipino Kake aage is basically shredded vegetables served in a tempura batter, accompanied by a tangy sauce, while the Cheese Rolls, spicy and melting as they reach your palate, served with a sweet chilli sauce. There was silence as we crunched our way through these dishes.

‘Our beef or chicken bulgogi is also recommended,’ Puneet offers. After the first bite, one is tempted to take him at his word. The salt and pepper prawns, the Thai chicken Barbeque, the Wok fried Prawns or Lobster…you take your pick, either with creamy wasabi, hot bean or a shiro special white sauce.

‘Would you like to try our Japanese food?’ he asks. By now we had our feet off the ground, lounging on the cushions, our drinks placed on cane rests placed on the center of the lounger. Discreet service staff hovered around us. I grimace. Somehow the thought of eating raw food had never taken my fancy.

‘We get this response from many of our guests,’ he laughs, ‘let me get you something vegetarian to drive away the fear,’ comes his offer And so started my initiation into a cuisine that has taken the metro’s by storm.

The main two ingredients that play an important role are the accompaniments…wasabi paste, which is Japanese horseradish, and pickle ginger. Hibachi rice, which is sticky rice is basically either rolled in a sea weed or stuffed with the vegetable. It is accompanied by the Wasabi paste and the pickle. ‘Do not take too much of the Wasabi,’ warns Puneet, ‘it could hit you.’ He is absolutely right. A very minute quantity should accompany the morsel.

My first initiation into Japanese Food…It’s novel and different. I realize that I like it. One could even become accustomed to it. For the Adventurous at heart, I would recommend the Sashmi (thinly sliced raw fish with Kikkoman soy sauce, and of course the pickled ginger and the wasabi.)

The platters come in regular or premium, where you have a choice of seafood from red snapper, tuna, prawn or crab sticks)

Now totally sated, I can imagine the feelings of people who would like a nice relaxing experience….the restaurant is open from 11.00 am in the morning to 2.00 am the next morning. I take a quick peek at the dessert menu. I just cannot resist. Mississippi Mud Pie, Sushi of dark and white chocolate mouse, Champagne and berry mousse…. Forget the diet. The Mississippi Mud Mousse…’is to die for.’

I am given to understand that there will be a lot more additions to the menu, come August. The geisha’s give a soft tempting smile, as we plan to leave the restaurant. Did I imagine that or was it real. One thing is certain. One visit is not enough. Shiro’s Open Beach is definitely worth a visit…again…and again….and again.

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