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How did your tryst with Japanese food begin?
I started my career in 1999 with Sakura, the Japanese fine-dining restaurant at The Metropolitan Hotel. We had chefs from different backgrounds, who’d bring their own style to the table. So, I got the opportunity to catch a glimpse of different culinary influences.
One lesson that has stuck with you from your time at sakura and the ocean room?
Always make sure that your base is strong. When it comes to molecular gastronomy or even contemporary food, your base has to be grounded. And then you can call your food fusion or confusion, but the bottom line is you should know what you're doing.
Any advice for young chefs who would like to foray into Japanese cuisine?
Number one would be flavours. Number two would be how to handle ingredients. All the cuisines are better learnt when you actually start doing it. They must give themselves enough time in the kitchen. You can’t just google a recipe and learn sushi rolling or tempura making.
What does your ideal ramen bowl look like?
Perfect al dente noodles. No over the top bullshit. Just clear broth. It has to have flavour to it. Little bit of toppings like slightly blanched or textured vegetables, but one shouldn’t go overboard with it. During my last trip to Tokyo, nearly three years ago, I had ramen every single day. They have so many varieties and each ramen was different and divine.
How is the restaurant adapting to the new normal?
We’ve been doing regular temperature checks, sanitising and disinfecting all the areas. Initially, we started on a takeaway basis. But now we are open for dine in and delivery. Since we mostly deal with raw seafood, our SOPs are pretty rigid. So, I don’t think we had to change our modus operandi much.
What’s your current ingredient obsession?
Garlic is my absolute favourite. If you know how to use it, it can actually convert your dish from zero to hero. You can have it fried or sautéed. Honestly, it is quite underrated.
Is there a dining experience that you’d like to relive?
My meal at Nobu. I got the opportunity to sit down and have a meal with Chef Nobu himself. He’s nothing less than a god when it comes to modern Japanese cuisine. We spoke about food and his experience.
What is your go-to comfort food?
I love my rajma chawal and bhindi. I’m happy with home-cooked food. I’m not fussy anymore. And of course, Asian and Thai food. If I had to pick one dish then it would be the humble dal chawal.
Chef Recommends: What not to miss when dining at Guppy by AI
A traditional Japanese soup made primarily of miso paste, dashi and additional ingredients like vegetables, seaweed and tofu. it is enriched with umami from bonito flakes and kelp.
Braised for six hours, it’s crisp on the outside and succulent inside. the signature pork belly at Guppy is glazed with soy honey and miso mustard sauce.
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