Yuuka by Ting Men redefines modern Japanese cuisine. It’s worth a visit, says Naina Hiranandani
Every weekend, Mumbai’s partygoers flock to the 37th floor of the Palladium Hotel to queue up at Exo, a popular nightclub or Li Bai, a more grown-up lounge. A discreet wooden staircase on the same floor leads to a cozy space that seats 50 people at most. A high-ceilinged room is swathed in hues of molten gold and black, alongside a wall dotted with origami-like copper bird figurines. Yuuka, headed by Boston-based sushi chef, Ting Yen, allows the Palladium Hotel to boast of what its neighbouring peers cannot: a space dedicated to modern Japanese cuisine.
To start with, Resident chef, Paul Kinny recommended the Château Ste Michelle Riesling 2011 – a refreshing choice for a hot summer day. Our meal started with a bowl of steamed edamame, generously dusted with truffle salt and truffle oil. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Next, the Hamachi Carpaccio arrives, resembling a whimsical mound of pastel ingredients. Slices of buttery Yellowtail are deliciously doused in ponzu and chilli oil, topped by noodle like slivers of radish and batter-fried jalapeno. The beauty of the dish lies in its delicate details: an explosion of crunchy and smooth textures, with a zing of flavours in each bite.
There are also over 20 different kinds of Maki dishes on the menu. We tried Route 66: a combination of salmon, crabsticks, avocado, cucumber and tobiko, drizzled with spicy mayonnaise. It’s the freshness of the fish (mostly imported) and top quality ingredients that make an impression. In the case of Salmon on Fire – a dish that turns heads with its theatrical presentation – strips of raw salmon dangle on a stem of lemon grass, dipped in a citrus ponzu marinade.
The salmon is flash-flamed over a pit of coffee beans (instead of coal) resulting in a wonderful smoky scent. The result is simply mouth-watering with the accompanying dipping sauce, a raspberry gastrique enhancing the meaty, grilled flavours so well. For mains, the Grilled Chilean Seabass (despite being done to death at several restaurants) still manages to shine.
A crispy coating of burnt garlic and ginger encrusting the soft, flaky meat of the fish combined with a light citrus soy sauce makes the grilled seabass a comfort meal. A bowl of Chef Ting’s Fried Rice is a satisfying accompaniment. The Truffled Lobster Bake – velvety bites of succulent lobster with a light panko crust and tobiko enveloped in creamy pickled mayonnaise – is another winner.
Despite its astronomical prices, Yuuka gives its competitors, Wasabi at Taj Mahal Palace and San Qi at the Four Seasons, some food for thought. All in all, Yuuka is an experience that will be much savoured, just like the last spoonfuls of Chef Ting’s delightful truffle-flavoured, salted ice cream.
Yuuka by Ting Yen
Level 37, Palladium Hotel, 462
Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
Lunch 12:30pm – 2:45pm
Dinner 7:30pm – 11:45pm
For reservations (022) 6162 8422