Where in the world would you choose to open an offshoot of your smash-hit Japanese restaurant in Ibiza? If you’re Reina Nagai, the answer, bizarrely, is Gurgaon’s Sector 29.
Nagai Japanese’s location will appeal both to Haryana’s itinerant Japanese businessmen and anyone who doesn’t want to drive halfway to Rajasthan for authentic Sushi. Further, we are not in tacky Sector 29, but the low-key, businesslike service lane behind Hotel Pllazio. (A giant basement indicates the threat of an eventual bar and weekend DJ, but for now, Nagai only offers dinner service, and is planning to open for lunch on future weekends – call before you go!)
We can’t remember the last time we’ve eaten such brilliant sushi, created and served at exactly the right temperature, diametrically opposed in every way from the cold-rice rolls that otherwise dominate Gurgaon’s tables.
The music is soft jazz, the décor is all geisha murals and jute rope cordons (don’t miss the tatami section); and Chef Nagai, luckily, is in the kitchen, cooking and training her India team. Perhaps due to her personal attention, our meal is largely terrific. We start with opaque green matcha tea, far from the insipid teabag variety we’ve drunk in these parts, made even better by seven-degree weather. Nagai’s salmon carpaccio is glorious: sliced salmon with edible flowers, pomegranate seeds, and lime and chilli coriander dressing.
This is followed by a dragon roll – prawn tempura with eel and teriyaki dressing. We can’t remember the last time we’ve eaten such brilliant sushi, created and served at exactly the right temperature, diametrically opposed in every way from the cold-rice rolls that otherwise dominate Gurgaon’s tables.
For complex carbs, we order a vegetable wok with cashews and edamame, a wide-lipped dish laden with crunchy green vegetables dressed in terrific “chefs secret sauce.” Tuna tatame offers lovely wine-coloured chunks of fish, lightly seared in a sesame crust with honey wasabi sauce: our only criticism is of the bed of salad leaves on which it is served, which could have used some dressing.
All this sweet freshness perhaps sets dessert up to fail expectations. It doesn’t bomb, but matcha green tea tiramisu, garnished with raspberries and amaretto, is disappointing: the use of white chocolate in the cream leaves us cold. The chocolate ganache on which dark chocolate semifreddo is perched is divine –but the semifreddo itself, aside from its big kick of cinnamon, needs some work on the dark chocolate: we could barely taste it.
Getting there: Sco# 305, Ground Floor, Huda Gymkhana Road, Behind The Pllazio Hotel, Sector 29, call 9958022300. A meal for three with no alcohol costs around Rs 8,000.
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