Chef Kazuhiko at the Sofitel Mumabi
Chef Kazuhiko

My love of Japanese food has been well-documented for anyone who’s seen my Instagram feed, so when I was invited to review the “Slice of Japan” food festival at the Sofitel’s Pondicherry Cafe I simply couldn’t refuse.

The Sofitel had brought in Chef Kazuhiko who lives in Kobe and trained at prominent restaurants both in Japan (Be-Dream and Ryousi-ya Ra-men) and in Europe (Casa Ibero and Sushi de Artes). His style is modern Japanese although his repertoire for this event relied more on traditional Japanese flavours. Given the amount of “fusion” cuisine I see in Mumbai, I for one was happy to see that my sushi was not being served with a heavy glaze of thick sauces or masala which is often the case.

There’s a selection of sushi, Japanese salads and wok tossed dishes, as well as a live noodle station. For a buffet, the selection is quite small but it’s complemented by the broader Pondicherry Cafe buffet that includes a wide range of Indian cuisines and delectable desserts. For me the highlight had to be the sushi which was under-stated in traditional Japanese style, focusing on fresh ingredients with subtle seasoning. It took me back to Tokyo, and I’d have happily eaten only nigiri for hours. Unfortunately the sushi buffet was small and supply was unable to keep up with demand.

Sushi at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Sushi at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

The agedashi tofu was another highlight, delicately fried and served in a flavoursome sauce, the tofu just melted in my mouth. The miso fish was also excellent, with a rich and robust taste that balanced sweet and salty. It went well with the mushroom rice that was a great side dish. If I had just been served these three dishes along with a plate of nigiri sushi I would have been very happy. While I tried several other dishes, I felt they didn’t lend themselves well to a buffet and would have perhaps been better if they were served a la carte.

If you do want to go you’ll have to get in quick, the festival ends on Sunday. And at Rs 2,990 for lunch and Rs3,110 for dinner (all inclusive), it’s a little steep but if you come with an empty stomach and plenty of time to wait for the buffet to be refilled, you’ll be able to make the most of it.

Review: A Slice of Japan
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