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Updated on: Sunday, November 21, 2021, 07:51 AM IST

Food review: Love Japanese food? Visit 'Wakai' in Mumbai and thank us later!

Wakai means ‘young’, and the inviting façade with pink neon lights, Japanese umbrellas and murals are the precursors of the mood and food to follow.
Crispy Tofu Kuwayaki |

Crispy Tofu Kuwayaki |

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The spanking new place, Wakai, ushers in Tokyo’s pulsating restaurant and bar milieu in the confines of an old mansion in the bustling Fort area of Mumbai. Wakai means ‘young’, and the inviting façade with pink neon lights, Japanese umbrellas and murals are the precursors of the mood and food to follow. 

The lower level sports a restaurant seating with jazz music lilting in the background and wall art of a black cat and Japanese anime characters. Flanked by a live sushi bar and a spirit bar, the mezzanine boots up the vibe with house and techno music for party lovers. Along with its Founders, Shardul Singh Bayas and Sameer Tirani, Head Chef Parvez Khan, who helms the kitchen, is also a partner. 

Wasabi Cornettos

The Wakai kitchen serves grills from the robata, a variety of sushi and tempura delights. The presentation of a contemporary cold appetizer of Wasabi cornettos in a wafer cone with corn, spiced avocado topped with mayo intrigued us and delighted us equally with its creamy scrumptiousness. Yasai tempura, which was batter-fried seasonal vegetables consisting of eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, proved to be another good choice.

Crispy tofu kuwayaki is akin to cottage cheese fritters with a drizzle of sauce garnished with micro-greens. Shatbhi Basu, India’s first woman mixologist, exhibits her wizardry with cocktails. Cherry gin and tonic and citrus wasabi gin and tonic captured our fancy and did not disappoint — one deliciously pink and refreshing and the other a spunky fizz spiked with fiery wasabi.

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Cherry Gin and Tonic and Citrus Wasabi Gin and Tonic

 A visit to a Japanese restaurant without trying their sushi would be unacceptable. We ordered a veg moriawase of asparagus, romanesco, shiitake and nasu (eggplant). The vinegared rice lent a tangy zest, while fresh veggies were crunchy and after being dipped in sweet soy sauce, the fifth sense of Japanese cuisine, Umami, gently tickled our taste-buds. 

Toban Yaki Udon
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Nama Chocolate

The entrée took off with Toban Yaki Udon, which was a stir-fried Japanese noodle dish to the accompaniment of mixed vegetable wok sautéed in spicy sambal sauce. The udon noodles were thicker, tossed in a mildly-spiced sauce with onion and bell peppers, and served in a shallow ceramic bowl. From Baked sesame cheesecake, Coconut cake, Passion fruit mousse, brownie and Nama Chocolate, we chose the last one. A plate of Sao thome chocolate ganache, chocolate soil, chocolate sable and seasonal berries sure stirred up our sweet tooth.

For a gastronomic jaunt of its unexplored hinterlands, be assured, Wakai pays a fitting tribute to the Land of the Rising Sun!

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Published on: Sunday, November 21, 2021, 07:51 AM IST
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