An invitation to our Bloggers table to try out Japanese Cuisine at The WelcomeHotel Sheraton's popular restaurant, 'Pan Asian', in Saket and an opportunity to watch a live demo on the Teppanyaki grill by Chef Nariyoshi Nakamura!! Well, Why Not? The offer too tempting to resist, I am so glad I took it up because believe me I had the time of my life!! A culinary experience that was way over the top.
If you are wondering what is Pan Asian cuisine, 'Pan' is a prefix from the Greek meaning simply, 'all', thus,as the name suggests, the 'Pan Asian' restaurant offers a culinary voyage of East Asia and has an extensive menu that includes flavors from China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Korea.
On reaching, we were ushered to a private dining with a huge table nicely laid out. We started off with Endemame beans, Soy peanuts, which incidentally were boiled (I have never had boiled peanuts before) and a bowl of pickled vegetables, which were nice and crunchy and had a lovely tanginess.
Because Sushi is something I really enjoy, I was really looking forward to our next course - the Sushi platter, which lived up to their promise of being fresh and full of flavors. I acquired the taste for sushi, when I was working for the American Embassy School. In the school, on U.N day, there used to be a big celebration, where every child brought in a choice of traditional food from their respective country. In spite of there being a varied amount of food, sushi used to be the most vied for and amongst the first to get over.
Here too, it was real fun trying to pick up our sushi's with chopsticks (under the tutelage of Vineet, Deeba's husband). Seeing our struggle to eat with the chopsticks, the wait staff (who I am sure must be quite amused by our antics), very sweetly showed us an easy way out. He told us to keep a wad of paper in between the sticks and then tie the two ends tightly with a rubber band for a easy manouevere. I managed to have a couple of extra sushi's, which incidentally were delicious, under the guise of practicing my skills
The vegetarians too weren't disappointed, as there was a vegetarian sushi platter for them and by the looks of it, looked quite sumptuous.
After the sushi session, we moved onto the Teppanyaki Grill counter where Chef Nariyoshi Nakamura showed us a live demo on how to make a Miso Tofu steak. We all watched in awe as he worked deftly on the soft Tofu steak, skillfully grilling and then turning it over, and then caramalizing it with a blow torch, making it all look so simple and effortless. We were told that the Miso sauce that he used on the tofu steak was his own secret recipe which makes all the difference in the taste.
The chef graciously allowed us to try our hand on the grill. But somehow with us, the Teppan grill didn't seem to be behaving too well and all we ended up with was a charred sticky mess. I don't know about others, but not being a big fan of Tofu, I found the taste quite passable. But, there is absolutely no doubting the amount of fun we girls had!!Then we moved on to the Mongolian Grill where we practiced our (almost non-existent) skills at making Chicken Yakitori, a japanese type of skewered chicken. I loved the taste of the marinated chicken - so simple yet so amazing!!
Back to the dining hall, seated after all the excitement, we were served steaming hot Dimsums in a wooden basket. Both the steamed Chicken and coriander dumpling and the Prawn Hakkau were really good, plump and full of flavor, the outside covering just the right consistency for you to enjoy the flavors of the filling inside.
What really blew me away was the Peking Duck, looking awesome with its crispy, glistening skin. Smothered with Hoisin sauce, along with thinly sliced spring onions and cucumbers and then rolled up in thin pancakes the whole combination was awesome.
Next on the menu, was the Miso Soup, a traditional japanese fermented soya bean soup with tofu. It was nice and light and had a bit of smokey flavor.
By the time we were done with our soups, we all were full to the brim. One glance at the menu card made us realize that we were not even halfway through our meal and the main course was still to be served!! Gosh!! I had already eaten way too much, so out of the rest of the course that followed, I could barely manage to taste a little bit from each dish.
In the main course, we were served Pan fried Prawns with Thai Style Chilli, Green Curry Thai Style and Silken Tofu in Black Bean and Sichuan Pepper Sauce accompanied with Jasmine Fried Rice and Asian Stir Fried Noodles. All the dishes were vibrant looking, colorful and beautifully presented. Out of everything, I really enjoyed the Pan Fried Prawns, with just a slight hint of garlic, its lemony sweet and spicy flavors were perfect.
By now, totally exhausted from over eating, we were absolutely unprepared for the drama that unfolded before us. A whole Red Snapper was flambeed right there in front of us, making it truly the highlight of the evening,!! Though cooked to perfection in a Red chili sauce, I did not find the taste to be outstanding.
Finally it was time for the sweetest part of the meal!! Honey Fried Noodles served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sticky Toffee and Fig Cake, the dessert was divine!! Not too sweet, it was just right for my palate making it a perfect ending to a great meal.
For me, an introduction to the Japanese cuisine could not have been in any way better than this.
Along with me on this great culinary adventure were:
Parul Pratap Shirazi from The Shirazine
Ruchira Hoon Philips from The Great Cookaroo
Sangeeta Khanna from Banaras Ka Khana
Sushmita Sarkar from My Unfinished Life