Sushi Takes To Tandoori Murg

Updated: Jan 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
Sushi anyone If youve raised your hand to that one, hold on a while. Were talking fusion sushi here, as in, er, Tandoori Maki Or maki (roll) with paneer, onions and curry powder Those are the indelibly Indian ones, but Sakura at The Metropolitan Hotel Nikko is offering some more subtle fusion fare as well.

Surprisingly, though I shuddered at the thought, the Tandoori Maki, with slivers of traditionally grilled chicken and lettuce, was pretty good. Not so the paneer one, which goes under the name of Delhi Roll on the Sakura menu. That was a bit surprising, especially when you consider that the equally bland tofu does a pretty good job in sushi.

Master sushi chef Kanazawa offers 17 kinds of fusion sushi. (Whew! Thats a bit of a tongue twister, fusion sushitry saying it fast, and youll see what I mean.) Only four of these are non-vegetarian, the Tandoori Roll featuring among these. In addition, there are the Tempura Roll (prawn tempura and lettuce in a mayonnaise dressing), the Salmon Roll (grilled salmon, cucumber and sesame) and the Unakyu Roll (grilled eel and cucumber). All three are pretty nice, the eel number winning top honours.

Among the vegetarian fare, I enjoyed the Bamboo Nigiri with bamboo shoots, the Asupara Nigiri with blanched asparagus, the Kou Haku Sushi with grated yam and pickled plum dressing, the Ume Roll with chopped pickled plum and sliced cucumber and the Kanpyo Roll with pumpkin cooked in a sweet soya sauce. The pumpkin was delicious. Also worth a try was the Okura Nigiri, which had, hold your breath, boiled lady finger!

The also-rans included the Pickle Roll (pickled Chinese cabbage or cucumber), Inari Sushi (fried tofu, carrot, bamboo shoot and sesame), Shira-Ae-Sushi (boiled spinach in a sesame seed dressing and tofu), Nameko Nigiri (button mushrooms) and Sansai Nigiri (sea vegetables).

An unusual feature was the Vegetarian Party Roll, which is a hand-sized roll containing cucumber, pumpkin, carrot, asparagus and lettuce in an avocado dressing. This tasted good, but was a trifle awkward to eat as the Nori (seaweed) in which it comes wrapped is tough to tear into. Incidentally, all the sushi featured in the fusion festival come with

Nori and vinegared rice, but its only in the Party Roll that the Nori makes its presence felt so.

Promoting the fusion sushi festival was macrobiotics expert Mona Schwartz, who says that of all world cuisine, sushi conforms best to the macrobiotic way of life because of the wonderful balance in ingredients that it employs. The fusion sushi menu will run at the Sakura along with its usual menu. The intention seems to be to introduce the sushi concept to more people. Accordingly, the fusion sushi is priced at Rs 100-150 for a platter of 5-6 pieces, as against the authentic sushi platter, which costs Rs 1,500-1,600!