Japanese pastry Chef Asami Indo is trying to bring the food and cultures of Tokyo and Japan to India. Japanese desserts are light as air and highly decorative. They are nothing like what we have in India. She is the Partner Chef at Harajuku Tokyo Café in Delhi, a Japan-inspired restaurant that will take you back to the Harajuku streets. The Instagrammable Café offers an array of gastronomical delights from Japan – boba tea, freshly baked Japanese Jiggly Cheesecake, exclusively-crafted Japanese desserts and bread, and made-on-order street food like takoyaki, chicken kara-age, and the twelve-inch-long Japanese fries. To know more about Japanese food, we got in touch with Asami Indo. Here’s what she had to say:
How Japanese food culture is revolutionizing the Indian taste bud?
The Indian audience was skeptical about trying authentic Japanese cuisine, especially, since Sushi has been associated mainly with raw fish and was not so palatable or accessible to Indians, being mostly served in expensive five-star hotels. However, the perception, in general, has started to change with the rise in popularity of modern Japanese cuisine, and the introduction of different ingredients in sushi, especially, vegetarian ones.
What is the secret behind making a perfect Japanese dessert?
Japanese pastries and desserts are light as air and are a little less sweet. Timing, temperature, and the method of folding the batter are crucial for making light and fluffy cakes, and pancakes, etc.
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What are the similarities between Indian and Japanese food cultures?
Japanese cuisine does have some synergies with the Indian palate. The curries have a similar taste to Indian curry, although the Japanese curry is milder than Indian curry and has a bit of western influence. Some of the spices used in Japanese cuisine like Shichimi (red chili powder) also appeal to the Indian palate. Also, we are using lots of fresh vegetables which Indians love. Rice and curry of course are the most common ingredients/food staples in both cuisines.
What is beyond sushi and sashimi that one should look for in a Japanese menu?
While there have been many Pan-Asian restaurants that have come up, the Japanese bakery and street food culture is still a very unexplored concept for Indians. The inspiration behind the menu is the Japanese bakeries and street food/fast food.
The highlights of our menu are the Fluffy, freshly baked cotton cheesecake, the jiggly Japanese souffle pancakes, curry pans (fried bread stuffed with a curry-based filling), the Parfaits (a very popular Japanese dessert like an ice cream sundae with fresh fruit and jellies), the Taiyaki, Dorayaki (pancakes sandwiched with Nutella), Katsu curry, Crispy Karaage, Japanese Long fries, the light as air Japanese bread and cakes. Our teams here and in Japan are constantly innovating and will be introducing exciting new additions to the menu every month.
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What does it take to build the most Instagrammable restaurant?
The whole design of the cafe has been conceptualized by Gaurav Kanwar and he has created a very immersive experience. Harajuku Tokyo Cafe has become one of the most Instagrammable cafes in the country. Gaurav thought of the design very carefully, bringing in elements from contemporary Japanese culture. He conceptualized a whole design story so there will be a common thread across all our outlets, yet there will be an exciting new element in every outlet.