Friday, 31 August 2018

Enter the World of Sake at TK’s Oriental Grill

First impressions often leave a lasting impact. My first taste of sake was in Hong Kong around 5 years ago. While I don’t remember the specific brand that I tasted, I do remember the cold and refreshing taste of this popular Japanese alcohol that complemented the fine sushi at Tokio Joe in the buzzing Lan Kwai Fong. That was probably the first time that I understood and enjoyed the perfect food & beverage pairing. While the sake opened up the palate to enjoy even the subtle flavours of sashimi and nigiri, every subsequent sip of the drink also became more and more enjoyable, and the flavour more pronounced.

Since then, I have had sake many times over but I have to admit that the experience was not equally enjoyable each time. Until last week, when I was invited to enjoy a boutique sake collection at Hyatt Regency’s TK’s. This time, my first sip of Enter Sake’s Junmai Ginjo, Silver, almost took me back to that wonderful afternoon in Hong Kong when I first enjoyed this beverage. With honeysuckle on the nose and floral notes of cherry blossoms, it has a clean and smooth finish. The second sake for the evening was the Honjozo-style, Black. This is a clean, pure style of sake with mountain flowers on the nose. Less sweet than the previous one, the Black has cleansing acidity that provides good structure and a soft, silky texture.

Enter Sake
Enter Sake is a boutique sake collection curated by Canadian musician and DJ Richie Hawtin. Richie has been exploring the world of sake over the last twenty years through extensive trips to Japan. He has earned the Advanced Sake Professional certification and was made an official Sake Samurai by the Japanese Sake Brewers Association in 2014 for his efforts in promoting sake abroad. The brand Enter also includes special sakes that are not available anywhere else outside Japan.

Project Sake India 
Brought to India by the young and enterprising duo behind Project Sake India, Enter Sake is already available at all the leading Japanese and Oriental restaurants in Delhi’s five-star hotels and a few select stand-alone restaurants as well. Arjun Khurana, partner, Project Sake India, emphasised the importance of the right channels of importing and storing sake in order to enjoy it at its optimal taste. “Like wine, sake bottles have no expiration date, but they do not taste as good beyond three months,” he laments. In fact, they got into the business of importing sake primarily because of their love for it, and at times, inadequate availability.

Enter Sake, a name that one is not likely to forget {unlike many other traditional Japanese names}, comes in wine-type bottles and is even served in a wine flute, instead of a carafe and shot glass or cup. “We want to make sake more approachable for the Delhi market,” says Arjun. Although this is a non-traditional way of serving sake, it is not blasphemous, because sake is the equivalent of wine in many ways. The pairing principles of sake also have many similarities with that of food and wine. On that note I’ll leave you with a few fun facts* about sake.

·      Made primarily from rice, sake is a fermented beverage brewed using a micro-organism called koji and yeast.
·      It has alcohol content of about 13%-16%.
·      The quality of water used in brewing sake is very important. Brewers take advantage of the various kinds of natural water available in Japan to make excellent sake.
·      There are many different varieties of sake, and it can be enjoyed either warm or chilled, depending on the type of sake and the season.

*Types of Sake
There are several different types of sake, the following special denominations are specified by the Japanese government.
Ginjoshu: Sake made using white rice that has been milled so that 60% or less of the grain remains. It also contains rice koji and water. It is characterized by fruity, floral bouquet and a clear, crisp flavour. If the rice is polished down to 50% or less, the sake is called Dai-ginjoshu.
Junmaishu: Sake made only from white rice, rice koji, and water. It tends to have a mellow bouquet and a rich, smooth flavour.
Honjozoshu: Sake made using white rice that has been milled so that 70% or less of the grain remains, along with rice, koji, brewing alcohol and water. It is known for its mild, unobtrusive bouquet and a crisp flavour.
All other types of sake fall under the category of Futsushu, which is consumed widely throughout Japan. This category offers various tastes, with each brand of sake featuring a unique flavour that is characteristic of the brewery.

Lastly, sake pairing is NOT limited to Japanese food! It is being paired with French, Italian and even Indian cuisine.

* The facts and sake specifications, courtesy Japan Sake Brewers Association.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

6 Reasons to Visit Burma Burma’s newest restaurant in Noida

Burma Burma, a successful chain of Burmese restaurants, has single-handedly popularised this cuisine in the Capital with its extensive choice of khow suey, scrumptious salads, lip-smacking Yangon-style street food, luscious soups, steamed buns with assorted fillings and dishes made with black rice. That the restaurant serves only vegetarian fare and no alcohol and still manages to have a queue of people waiting for a table, especially on weekends, has added an element of intrigue to its success story. With the opening of its third restaurant in Delhi NCR, in Noida (and the fifth across India, after Mumbai and Bengaluru) here are six reasons to make your way here for a delicious and culturally enriching experience.

Old Favourites
Sunflower leaf salad.
Bottom L-R: Steamed buns with assorted fillings; lotus stem crisps.

1. Indulge in Old Favourites
I am a loyalist when it comes to food. So even when there are new additions to any menu I don’t forget my old favourites! And there’s a lot at Burma Burma that we have gone back for repeatedly. The sunflower leaf salad is one such in which the said leaves come as crunchy microgreens, topped with wheat chips, onion rings and red chillies in a spicy, tangy dressing. Then there are the freshly steamed buns with fillings like brown onion and roasted chilly filling and crunchy tofu. And of course, the lotus stem crisps sprinkled with a chilli masala are utterly addictive.

Delish New Dishes
Top: Grilled mock meat skewers.
Bottom L-R: Soup with fermented mustard and edamame;
Wa Style Potatoes.

2. Explore New Additions
It’s always a pleasure to explore more dishes of a cuisine. We noticed many additions to the existing menu from the tangy soup made with fermented mustard leaves and edamame to the grilled mock meat skewers with a sweet, tamarind sauce, stir-fried greens with tea leaves and shwedagon khow suey drizzled with coconut mayo. All these make for a good change for regulars.   

Sweet Endings

3. Savour the Freshest Desserts
This is the only Burma Burma kitchen that has an exclusive pastry counter, which means that not only has the choice of desserts more than doubled, but because they’re made fresh and in-house, the taste is several notches superior too. The desserts are curated by Vinesh Johny, whose Lavonne Academy has also trained the Burma Burma team in the fine art of pastry making. Among the new offerings is a the Rangoon Baked Milk with a Burmese style brioche that is served rather romantically with a frozen rose flower that is crumbled over the dessert right at the table to add an element of drama. Chocolate lovers with enjoy the Zen Garden made with the finest Callebaut chocolate. But if I was to pick my favourite, it’d have to be the apple tarte tatin Burmese style called Pa La Ta for its variety of textures and the comforting aroma and taste of warm cinnamon. And now for the most incredible part: all the desserts are egg less and gelatine-free. 

4. Host a Private Dinner
Another first for Burma Burma is the private dining room that can comfortably seat 16 people. The wall-art in this space is inspired by the work that one would see in royal palaces in Myanmar, making diners feel extra special.

5. Buy a Burmese Memento
I really feel that Burma Burma allows a delicious glimpse into Burmese culture through its food. The choice of food also allows a peek into the lifestyle and social habits of the people as each dish comes with a succinct description in the menu. If you’d like to carry a reminder of your experience at Burma Burma back with you, there is a merchandise counter that has qwirky bric-a-brac like lungi-bags, tea kettles, Burmese dolls and more.

This is the largest Burma Burma outlet in Delhi NCR. The decor theme
is the auspicious Buddhist 'Mandala'.

6. Soak in Some Positivity
The d├ęcor theme for this restaurant is the auspicious Buddhist ‘mandalas’ in the form of wall hangings and bamboo lights made in the shape of mandalas. I particularly liked a wall painting that depicts the Buddha’s foot. The bright colours and intricate drawings make it very appealing. Do have a look whenever you visit the restaurant.   


Burma Burma, Shop D 420B, Third Floor, DLF Mall of India, Plot M-03, Sector 18, Noida.
Ph: 0120 6296251-52.
Timings: Lunch 12.30pm to 4pm; Dinner 7pm to 11pm.