A few weeks back I got a call from Malaka Spice wherein I was asked to be a part of the review panel for their Winter Menu Tasting and I just couldn’t say no! Malaka Spice has always been a special place since they were my client and also I started my tastings from.
P.S. – This is my mother’s favourite place too!
Before we start with the peeking of the upcoming seasonal menu, let us first know the inspiration behind it. The country Japan plays a huge role in this winter menu and the dishes are not interpretational but more traditional. Only the desserts are an interpretation since Japanese cuisine is not known for this and also because people in South East Asia are conservative about their sweet consumption.
Beer is an important component in Japanese cuisine which is why IBC (Independence Brewing Co.) was our beer server for the evening! With 3 offerings in its menu, I did manage to get happy high on it. But everyone was served Saké and you had to drink it like a shot and have 1.5 glasses of water right after it coz it dehydrates your body. Had to ignore this poison for the former one!
With a mix of both veg and non-veg options, 26 dishes made it to our table. Trust me, that’s really really less as compared to what I’ve had before. And also if this review confuses you, definitely watch this year’s MasterChef Australia. They have travelled to Japan and it could be an easy understanding! A veg start to the night, the Yasai Teppanyaki (Winter Exotic Vegetables tossed with Kikkoman & sesame) was a bit salty due to the Kikkoman (naturally brewed Soy Sauce) but the vegetables were cooked perfectly giving it that crunch. A yes from my side but needs to be served a bit hotter as compared to what was served to us. BTW, you’ll read and see a lot of my favourite vegetable, broccoli in this menu. A recent buff lover entrant, I was pretty excited to try the Buff Teppanyaki (Sake marinated sliced buff tossed with bok choy and shichimi). I loved the thinly sliced buff and the tender bok choy but the only issue remained was the temperature. But a definite yes from my end. Onto the next one, the Teppanyaki Chicken & Vegetables. Although the chicken was cooked nicely, the broccoli was very salty and overpowered the entire dish. Entering the teppanyaki with seafood, the Grilled Teppanyaki, Tiger Prawns and Greens and the Teppanyaki Garlic Fried Rice were served together. Putting a suggestion of using both the names together on the menu, this one was an impressive one with the juicy prawns and hit of garlic. The underappreciated Robatayaki – Grilled Seafood, although managed to look good on the plate lacked in texture, temperature and taste. The prawns were very bitter|sour, and the temperature being on the cold side, they stuck on the stick. The accompanying soba noodles were not served so I judged this one with the other elements served to us. The Robatayaki – Grilled Vegetables had some uncooked vegetables & was served cold. The Robata – Grilled Buff Steak had perfectly cooked buff but lacked in the wasabi taste. But all in all, this one had my definite yes.
Entering the noodles zone, the Soba with Miso-Glazed Eggplants (remember Japanese brinjal is a bit sweeter) had a mixed review across the table and despite saying a no for this one, I hope it’s on the menu. Tender brinjal and in-house made noodles were a good and unique combination. On the other hand, the Sesame Soba Noodles had a rainbow of vegetables, moist chicken and tangy-sweet dressing. Loved this one and it definitely made got a yes from me! With the chunky tomato flavour missing (and the cherry tomatoes) in the Soba Noodles with Miso-Roasted Tomatoes, the noodles were bland. The next noodles, the Spicy Orange Soba Noodles did have the zestiness from the orange but just missed the spiciness but would love to see this one on the menu! With the final noodles being served, the Buckwheat Soba Noodles, Buff & mushrooms made a drab impact with the lack of mint and that tingy sourness from the well-cooked buff.
The Ebi Katsu (Shrimp Fry) was a definite hit in terms of all departments! The crispy texture from the panko breadcrumbs on the well-cooked prawns with that aioli and miso (the miso was bang on and perfect for the cold night) was just too good. Will be going back for more! The Tilapia Katsu (Fish Fry) was absolutely perfect. These two dishes are just a heaven for seafood lovers! More of these two, please?? The Tori Katsu (Chicken Fry) did not hold back its perfection either. The Katsus definitely made an insane mark for me!
Onto the sushi (FINALLY!), the Roasted Sweet Potato Roll is definitely an innovative one for the Pune market with the combination of the roasted sweet potatoes, cucumbers with the tangy rice and rolled in Noori sheets was light and lovely. However, the saltiness from the plum in the Umeboshi Maki Rolls was dominating and not allowing the palates to enjoy the entirety of the sushi. The next one is a classic sushi, The Spicy Tuna Roll. Fresh tuna, the rice, veggies all together wrapped nicely with chilli and mayo made it a perfect one. Ok ok the next one is an all-time favourite, the Boston Roll. I really don’t think anyone has gone wrong with this one. Yet. So the ones served to us had the filling of crab, salmon and scallion and that outer layer of crunchiness. Can I rate this one 10/5? Haha..! The last sushi, the Futomaki is basically a thick sushi roll consisting of different ingredients but the ones served to us had crab, shrimp and vegetables. Pretty on the plate and definitely pretty in my mouth. LOVE!
Moving onto the desserts, there were quite some interesting ones! Especially the Lemongrass Icecream, Japanese Chocolate Truffles, Green Tea Icecream & the Black Sesame Icecream. The Japanese Chocolate Truffles are a must try! The chocolate truffles infused with Japanese wasabi gives it such an unusual taste wanting for more! Onto the icecreams guys – From the citrusy flavour in the Lemongrass Icecream to the deeply flavoured matcha in the Green Tea Icecream (I’ll prefer the ice cream over the tea anyday) to the nutty Black Sesame Icecream…you all will surely be pampered if all of these go on the menu!
P.S. – There was no lighting. We still managed to click some pics.
And a big shoutout to Roshan Munot for accompanying me and clicking the pics!