Encouraged by the immense popularity of their three year-old sushi delivery service, the Sushi-Spice team recently unveiled Sushi Cafe, a tiny all-day eatery where Maki and Miso take centrestage
Sushi Cafe is a modest eatery, with plain walls and white-painted furniture -- more specifically, just four small tables and about 16 cane chairs. This much must be stated at the outset, because should you decide to log on to their website http://www.sushicafemumbai.com/, you may drop by with lofty expectations and be sorely disappointed. Still, one can imagine the space transformed when the tea-lights are lit and the aroma of Miso bubbles up. At lunchtime on a Monday, however, all that greets us is a bare chamber, devoid of music, colour or even signs of life.
Assorted Sushi platter with a mix of non-vegetarian and vegetarian
options. You can choose to have either, of course (Rs 600). Pics/Bipin
Though the sole attendant there seemed reluctant to acknowledge us at first, he did eventually ask us to take a seat while he contacted his "Sahab." Sahab, aka Tarique Rangoonwala, showed up about 15 minutes later, but, to his credit, jumped right to the task of taking our order and served us a complementary cup of green tea, which, he said, was standard for all diners.
The Bento Box has a Miso soup, fried prawns, noodles and assorted
Maki rolls (Rs 600)
"We'd charge you for a pot of green tea," he said, tracing a fingertip over a table-mat-cum-menu as he showed us that this is priced at Rs 120, "but a cup of green tea is on the house." He had other things to point out on the menu too. "We're not serving anything from this section yet, except for Fish and Chips," he revealed drawing our attention to a wee list titled Regionales (each of the six items is priced at Rs 250), which includes ambitious concoctions like Makluba, described in the menu as a 'Syrian rice and vermicelli preparation with minced chicken, raisins and almonds,' and Manti, 'Cottage cheese dumplings, from a Turkish grandmother's kitchen.'
They certainly sounded interesting, but as Rangoonwala pointed out, these aren't available for now. Sushi, on the other hand, is, or Maki rolls are anyway. Gunkan, Temaki, Inari and even Sashimi don't feature on the menu here, but they do offer unique vegetarian sushi varieties like mushroom and cheese and spicy veg Maki. Our order was ready no more than 20 minutes after Rangoonwala entered the kitchen and the Bento box (veg: Rs 500; non-veg: Rs 600) was large enough for two people with reasonable appetites.
The Miso soup that was part of this fixed meal was surprisingly delicious, two oily pieces of deep-fried, skewered prawns that occupied one section of the box, on the other hand, were mediocre at best, but the sweetish noodles and six assorted Maki rolls that occupied other sections were, again, exceptional. It should be mentioned though that the Maki boasted no exotic fish -- they only had salmon and crab-stick rolls.
The vegetarian tempuras (Rs 200) were also very good, but though they were sufficiently seasoned and crispy, the dish had absolutely no Japanese finesse (one must remember that is a country where mothers feel ashamed if their children's Kyaraben school lunches aren't deemed art) and looked far too much like ordinary vegetable fritters.
The sweet and sour sauce (clearly out of a bottle) garnish did little to enhance the flavour of the dish, but the accompanying light soy, a medium-spicy Wasabi that complemented all the dishes beautifully and full-flavoured tempura sauce, made up for the flaw.
In keeping with the spirit of the season, the cheery host also offered us a complementary dessert -- Belgian waffles glazed with wonderfully creamy chocolate sauce, the texture and flavour of which was distinctly foreign. Now, it's not on the menu so we're not sure what they'll price the mouth-watering dish at, but it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say this alone was worth the Rs 950-bill we ran up (it included a 7.5 per cent service charge and taxes).
At: Sushi Cafe is located near Kotak Bank, opposite Tresorie, just off Linking Road, Khar (W)
Call: 9833650503, 9820839148 (open from 11 am to 11.30 pm)