Colaba's new Japanese restaurant offers the best of Japan on your plate

Saizen, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant that opened its doors to patrons in tony Mumbai last week, offers a wide variety of delectable food in a regal ambiance

What happens when two foodies, who have neither an inkling nor love for Japanese cuisine, head to a new restaurant that specialises in it? They might make a pact that if they don’t like anything, they would head to the nearest fast food joint to satiate their appetite. This was exactly the case with us when we headed to Saizen, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant in Colaba.

Avocado Dragon Roll
Avocado Dragon Roll (Rs 680) is plated like a caterpillar. Pics/Nikesh Gurav

We were spellbound by the chic interiors. Copper latticework columns, Italian chandeliers, leather and suede sofas with chrome and wood tables lent an opulent feel to the place, made up in hues of beige. The birdcage table at one corner was quirky, ideal for a big group looking for an intimate space. Owners Radhika and Archana Aggarwal showed us the lounge, which can accommodate around 40 people. Once we settled in, we ordered for a Green Apple Cooler (Rs 300) and a Neuralizer (Rs 500). The former was fresh and rejuvenating and had the flavour of green apple, apple juice, lime juice and mint in equal measure. The Neuralizer was spunky and citrusy, thanks to the dash of orange juice added to the sparkling wine and campari.

Crab Haru Maki
Crab Haru Maki (Rs 550) are like spring rolls

Our server suggested that we order the Prawn Tempura with spicy mayonnaise (Rs 680). Six huge pieces of prawns kissed with a hint of spicy mayonnaise came on a white plate. As we bit into the batter-fried prawns, we heard the crackling sound, proof of the fact that the tempura batter was crispy. The prawns were fresh, juicy and mildly spiced. Next came the Crab Haru Maki (Rs 550), Japanese-style spring rolls with a crabmeat and shiitake mushroom filling, served with a tangy sauce.

The chic interiors of Saizen at Colaba
The chic interiors of Saizen at Colaba

The filling was a tad salty, but since it was quite generous, we could taste the crabmeat’s sweetness and the mushrooms’ saltiness. By this time, the vegetarian among us was famished. Thankfully, the Gyouza (Rs 480) and the Edamame dip with pita chips (Rs 650) came just in time. The Gyouza, pan-fried veg dumplings, hit the right note between bland and spicy. The filling of mixed veggies and tofu was flavoursome and the dumplings were perfectly pan-fried. The Edamame mixed with tahini and spices served with pita chips tasted like a combination of peanut and hummus and was an absolute favourite with us.

It would be blasphemous if we came to a Japanese place and didn’t taste sushi. The Avocado Dragon Roll (Rs 680), replete with cucumber, cheese and spring onion topped with avocado and drizzled with sweet sauce and wasabi mayo, was a piece of art. The dish looked like a caterpillar and we didn’t have the heart to dismantle it but had to. It was creamy and moist and packed with flavours. The saltiness of the cheese was perfectly complimented by the cucumber’s sweetness. Next came the Mountain Crunchy Roll (Rs 480). The Asparagus tempura was crunchy and flaky and balanced the moist texture of the avocado and cheese roll.

In spite of being full, we moved on to the main course. The Teppanyaki Fried Rice (Rs 400), Chicken in Wasabi Sauce (Rs 600) and the Vegetable Kochuganj in a Korean spicy Sauce (Rs 590) were strictly average fare. The Chicken in Wasabi Sauce tasted like chicken pieces had been smothered liberally with kasundi (a typical Bengali mustard sauce) and was pungent. The Korean spicy sauce had a burnt aftertaste and was too strong for our liking.

Overlooking these dishes, we geared up for desserts — Mochi (Rs 450) (Japanese rice-cake filled with ice cream) and Panna Cotta Delight (Rs 400). The former came in two flavours — green tea and lychee — and had a velvety texture. The Japanese rice cake was so thin that it mixed with the ice cream seamlessly. We had to stop ourselves short from ordering another round.

The Vanilla Panna Cotta with butterscotch cream topped with caramel sauce and cookie crumble, on the other hand, was mildly sweet. It didn’t look like the wobbly smooth panna cotta that we are so used to seeing on Masterchef Australia. But the cookie crumble lent it a complex texture.

Saizen offers delicious Japanese food that is crafted to appease the Indian palate without going overboard on spices and oil. Though expensive, the elegant décor and lip-smacking cuisine make it worth a visit. We cannot rate the experience as it was an invitation

At: 41/42 Minoo Desai Marg, behind Radio Club, Colaba

Service: Attentive
Food: Excellent
Ambiance: Elegant
Price: Rs 5,000 for two with alcohol
Call: 65081100

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