Japanese food is difficult for the average Punekar. The names are unfamiliar and hard to remember. The masalas and spices that make Indian food what it is, are absent. Nor does it have the breads, cheeses and desserts that make us salivate over French cooking. Its most famous dish—sushi—is basically raw fish served with rice and seaweed. This makes your stomach churn if you imagine the fish are from the Mula-Mutha river. However Ukiyo, the Japanese themed restaurant on the second floor of Pune’s Ritz Carlton lays these fears to rest. The salmon is imported from Norway and most of the other ingredients from Japan itself. Japanese cuisine relies heavily on freshness of ingredients and Ukioye gives them to you as fresh as modern technology allows. The restaurant is located in Pune’s Yerwada area, close to the airport and is a visual delight, with both indoor and outdoor seating.
You can start your meal with edamame. These are essentially steamed soyabeans in a pod and an extremely healthy starter dish. You have to bite off the end of the pod and eat the peas one by one. If you’ve ever helped your mother pick peas for the daily bhaji, the sensation is quite similar. You can follow it up with a daikon salad (radish with honey crisp apple), a new offering by Ukiyo from its revamped menu.
Hereon, you can proceed to the main course or if you’re not very hungry, try the lighter options. For instance, Ukiyo has also introduced non-traditional Japanese dishes like white fish carpaccio served with citrus soy sauce and salmon tataki (seared salmon). For your main course, try sashimi, or thinly sliced fish served with soy sauce, and, of course, the salmon sushi. The sashimi at Ukiyo is an indulgent dish with its topping with caviar. For vegans and vegetarians, the Shitake (mushroom salad) is a good counterpart, as is the agedashi tofu (fried tofu), which hails from Ukiyo’s new menu. If you’re a vegetarian, who is keen on sushi, the quinoa avocado maki is a great option.
Also read: Iraqis chow down on diamond-shaped samoon bread
For drinks, Ukioye has kept it simple with its Mizuwari series of seven cocktails that prioritise flavor over getting you drunk. A lot of the fun of eating Japanese food lies in its presentation and Ukioye does not disappoint. If you’re worried about using chopsticks, you can rest easy. The restaurant provides you with knives, forks and spoons and they work equally well with Japanese cuisine.
This is meant to be a health-centric meal, but I rarely forget a good dessert. The matcha-flavoured tiramisu at Ukioye is not overtly sweet and can make a great ending to a Japanes- style meal. Dinner at the Ritz is not light on the pocket, but if you’re willing to shell out ₹5,000-7,000 for a special occasion, Ukiyoe will not disappoint.
Also read: A matter of pride: Bengaluru’s first food truck run by LGBTQIA+ community