Japanese flavours to discerning diners in the national capital

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Updated: May 16, 2019 4:33:25 PM

From refreshing additions to the menu like cold tomato soup with snow crab to flirting with different styles of cooking, including the use of clay pot, the new head chef, Shimomura Kazuya, is leaving no stone unturned to showcase the splendours of Japanese cuisine.

Shimomura Kazuya, food, japanese food, Japanese cuisine, The Leela Palace, New Delhi, Kazuya (left), who has worked in globally-recognised kitchens like Hinokizaka at Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, and Michelin-starred Mizumi at Wynn Macau, has garnered acclaim for his seamless integration of modern and traditional Japanese styles

A flavoursome storm is cooking in the kitchens of Megu, one of the country’s most upmarket Japanese restaurants, located at The Leela Palace in New Delhi, as it seeks to add a new twist to its illustrious legacy. From refreshing additions to the menu like cold tomato soup with snow crab to flirting with different styles of cooking, including the use of clay pot, the new head chef, Shimomura Kazuya, is leaving no stone unturned to showcase the splendours of Japanese cuisine. “My endeavour is to continue the legacy that Megu already has. I will be introducing a rendition of Japanese cuisine that has never been tried in this city,” says Kazuya.

The richness of Japanese cuisine stems from its ability to retain the original, natural flavours of ingredients even as the dishes undergo a modern transformation. Few celebrate ingredients as well as the Japanese and this facet comes through in each of the dishes that Megu’s new menu boasts of. From crispy potato prawn tempura, a dish beloved of Nobu-style restaurants, to Goma tofu with simmered duck, the menu is delectable to say the least. For vegetarian diners, there are plenty of new dishes with asparagus, potatoes and mushrooms. When presented in the form of tempura, vegetables like okura, enoki, baby corn, onion and ooba outshine with a sparsely-seasoned crunchiness to them. “The core ingredients that we use while cooking, which also make Japanese cuisine stand out, are soy, sugar, mirin, sake, salt and rice. From these few ingredients, we can make dishes in variations. Chefs across the world use these ingredients along with others to make their unique variations suiting the taste palate of their guests,” says Kazuya, talking about the signature elements used in Japanese-style cooking.

Shimomura Kazuya, food, japanese food, Japanese cuisine, The Leela Palace, New Delhi, 

A dynamic chef, Kazuya donned many hats prior to taking charge at the celebrated Megu. With 26 years of rich culinary experience, Kazuya has garnered acclaim for his seamless integration of modern and traditional Japanese styles. He has worked in globally recognised kitchens like Hinokizaka at Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, and the Michelin-starred Mizumi at Wynn Macau. It is truly a delight to see him create dishes that reflect his nuanced contemporary calibre alongwith alluring presentation. For instance, prior to serving lamb chops and smoked chicken with plum and yuzukosyo sauces, the chef lightly burnt the paper-like covering on the dish to add to the flavour. Cooked to perfection and devoid of any excessive condiments, the smoked chicken and lamb chops were moist, with their earthy flavour complementing the tart plum sauce. Neatly-tucked fruits oozing with jelly inside a scooped orange made for a minimalistic dessert, appeasing the eyes first before marking its territory on the tastebuds.

Going ahead, Kazuya is essentially looking at popularising Japanese cuisine in the land of spices. The fact that Megu is almost always jampacked—even though it has an extremely niche cuisine at its helm—largely stems from connoisseurs wanting authenticity in the world of fusion food these days. “Though Japanese cuisine is already popular here, with some more concerted efforts, we can expose the wide variety of dishes that the cuisine has to offer. A lot of things are, hence, underway at Megu. I have already introduced a few new dishes on the menu and they have been received very well,” says Kazuya.

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