A famed kitchen changing hands always brings with itself anticipation — slight nostalgia for what had been till now, mixed with excitement for the new. And such expectation surrounded the welcome of Shimomura Kazuya as the new Head Chef at Megu, The Leela Palace Delhi. Chef Kazuya comes with 26 years of expertise in modern Japanese cuisine, also what Megu has been known for. And he has mastered his skills over the years at restaurants like Hinokizaka at Ritz Carlton Tokyo and the Michelin starred Mizumi at Wynn Macau.
His expertise in tempura and the Japanese art of ‘opulence of perfection rather than wealth’ reflects in the menu he’s created for Megu. An appetiser platter comprising of tempura asparagus, tofu made from sesame seeds, sushi, simmered duck, and cottage cheese teriyaki introduces one to diverse textures and flavours. The second course, a cold tomato soup with snow crab or potatoes, is rich in taste despite the light ingredients, and ideal for summer. Followed by tempura — both the crispy potato prawn and vegetable versions allude to comfort food. The main course was lamb chops and smoked chicken; whilst the lamb was tougher than what we’d like, the chicken was tender with the smokiness cutting through all the layers. And the accompanying plum sauce deserves a mention, not your processed, overtly sweet one but freshly-made with the sweet-yet-tart hints of plum.
“I can assure guests will come across a unique kind of Japanese cuisine which hasn’t still been introduced in Delhi. They can look forward to enjoying a combination of classic and modern cuisine at Megu,” says the chef as he works towards finalising the menu that’ll eventually showcase at Megu. As he works towards serving up Japanese like Delhi hasn’t tasted before, we get talking to him about the most loved preparation from the cuisine, sushi. “I usually like to make both nigiri and sushi, but I have a very different style of making sushi. Unlike most chefs, I do not use seaweed in my sushi. Guest enjoy the same taste of sushi without seaweed.” Along with his signature sushi style, Chef Kazuya’s also shared tips on the best way to eat it, and here’s your go-to sushi guide from the expert himself.
What is the traditional Japanese way of eating sushi?
Traditionally, sushi is eaten with both hands and chopsticks. Wasabi and soy sauce enhances the taste of sushi and is most recommended to have sushi with this combination, while ginger (gari) refreshes the palate while sampling variety of sushi.
Which alcohol or liqueur best paired with sushi?
Japanese sake goes well with sushi.
The three common mistakes diners make while eating sushi? And how to correct these?
People usually dip the rice side in soy sauce. Always dip from the fish side.
While having nigiri people separate fish from rice; it should be eaten together.
While having sushi, avoid consuming a lot of soy and wasabi. It should be had proportionate to the quantity ordered.
Are there different ways of eating sashimi, nigiri, and roll? If yes, what are these?
Kaisen Donburi and chirashi sushi is the another way of eating sushi. Kaisen chirasi includes rice topped up with slice of different raw fish in a bowl while chirashi sushi comprises thin slices of various fish and seafood.
Your personal favourite way of enjoying a sushi meal?
Few things are best enjoyed when they are simple and seeped in tradition. I love my sushi – the simple and traditional way.
All images: Courtesy The Leela Palace Delhi