My first reaction when I was invited at a Japanese Restaurant was NO. The only Japanese food I knew was Sushi and was very skeptical to try it out. It took some amount of persuasion from the PR agency handling the event to let me know that Japanese food is not only Sushi but a lot more and over half of it is Vegetarian too.
I decided to go ahead and visit “Guppy pop-up at Olive Bistro”. Another iconic restaurant from restaurateur A.D. Singh, Guppy by AI has been a popular joint in New Delhi. Guppy is a tropical fish. In my innumerable trips, I stayed away from this place thinking its Japanese and I may not like it. In the past the restaurant has done similar pop-up in Mumbai at Olive Bar & Kitchen and this was the first time in Pune. The restaurant will be around for next three months at Olive Bistro, Bund Garden Road, Pune.
The pop-up trend is new in Pune, which so far was restricted to food festivals and that too mostly as part of buffets with five star restaurants.
Olive Bistro scores very high on the ambiance and décor and a part of the restaurant has been converted for this pop-up including the play area and part of the covered section. The limited presence of three months has not held Guppy back from giving a Japanese touch to the place. From cushions to chandeliers everything has a Japanese touch.
Chef Vikram Khatri was in command overlooking the arrangements for the launch the next day and ensuring the invitees were well looked after by the staff. The wait staff was very knowledgeable as every myth about Japanese food was dispensed with facts. Guppy is a contemporary Japanese bar and kitchen.
Drinks & Food
Japanese food has to be served immediately after it is cooked which means the wait times between order and service could be a little longer however this is necessary to ensure the best taste, we were told by a very friendly server, who also explained me each and every Japanese cocktail on offer. I opted for a very interesting one – Bamboo dipped Vodka with Blue Curacao, a little on the sweeter side but with an interesting flavor of bamboo.
The Menu was quite exhaustive.
Small Plates pass around:
Veg: Edamame Sea Salt / Chilly Garlic, Exotic Mushroom Gyoza, Crisp Vegetable Harumaki, Rock Corn Tempura, Chilly Lime dressed Agedashi Tofu
Non-Veg: Chicken Karaage, Chicken Nanban, Prawn Gyoza, Tiger Prawn Tempura, Guppy Signature Pork Belly
Japanese Vegetable Roll, Avocado & cucumber Roll, California Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll
SOUPS & SALADS
Miso Soup (Veg/Non Veg), Grilled asparagus and Rocket salad
Veg: Teriyaki glazed Tofu & Asparagus, Exotic Teppanyaki Vegetables
Non-Veg: Grilled Chicken Breast, Tenderloin Cubed Steak, Chashu Ramen shoyu
Nashi pear and prune pie, Warm Carrot Cake
We started with Edamame – and had two varieties, one with sea salt and another with chilly garlic. It was good to nibble on these with the drinks before the starters were served. This was followed by Vegetable Harumaki – which were spring rolls with exotic vegetable filling. It was served with yuzu miso sauce. Along with this was Corn Tempura – deep fried baby corn and sweet corn like any other.
For a long time there were only Vegetarian dishes which came on the table until Chicken Karaage landed, nicely placed on a piece of marble. It was deep fried and marinated in Soy, served with spicy kewpie sauce which was very tangy. Also served was Chicken Nanban which was tasty and succulent.
As we moved from the covered section to the outdoor one for more starters and a drink – bamboo flavored martini, we were served the Grilled asparagus and Rocket Salad – a salad which was in Wafu – meaning “own dressing” – a typical secret recipe for a salad. I tried the Miso soup – a salty traditional soup made of Soya paste and vegetable broth.
Next on the platter was Pork Belly which is their signature dish. A non pork eater like me tasted it and liked it speaks a lot about it. I still am not sure if I can have a meal of this, but I wouldn’t mind bits of it. It was not spicy but slightly sweet coated in a soy based sauce.
Then came the Sushi. I was reluctant in the beginning but I did taste it and rather ate all of it. There were three pieces – Veg. Sushi – which had a combination of cucumber and carrot, Fish Sushi and Crab Sushi – which was the show stopper for me. Sushi came with Wasabi and Gari (Ginger) and the server explained us on how Sushi is to be eaten, mixing the Wasabi in Soy sauce (kept in a nice little kettle). The rice layer around the sushi was tasty which balanced the taste of Crab as well as Wasabi.
The high point was the Bamboo chopsticks – which came conjoint and I was in double minds if I should separate them or the Japanese indeed ate with such chop sticks!
By this time I was full and I requested to get the Mains just for taste and there they came in large quantities! I tried the Grilled Chicken Breast which had a very succulent boneless chicken.
Just when I thought I would now burst, came the next dish – Desserts – an assortment of carrot cake which was delicious and moist, pastry and fruits.
This was a completely new experience for me. I have had a dish or two which was Japanese amongst others but never a full Japanese meal. Even pan Asian restaurants in Pune lack multiple options for Japanese meals.
What was impressive was that the staff was well aware that most of the patrons will not be aware about Japanese food and hence were educating people about the food. A very nice touch for a new cuisine.
I was invited by Guppy at Olive Bistro for a pre launch event and I did not pay for my meals.