Kolkatans get their basic nutrition from food, adda and lyad! We have always embraced various cuisines from across the globe with open arms and in last couple of years, the city has seen some Japanese eating houses opening their doors over here (and one has closed down as well), thus developing the palate of the city dwellers for this cuisine. I believe, it is kinda acquired taste! I personally love Japanese food but not everyone does!
But that’s natural, many people don’t like biriyani, and still, they do exist and we share oxygen and other natural resources with them and let them live! 🙂 Jokes apart, if you love Japanese cuisine, this article is for you! Here I will talk about food from the land of the rising sun! A couple of days ago I had been to Westin, Kolkata since I found out they are running this Japanese Food Festival at Seasonal Tastes. And since I have a soft corner for Pork/Beef Ramen (which you need to find with a microscope in this city) I decided this food festival is for me!
This 10 days long unique Japanese Food Festival created quite a lot of buzz, more because Japanese food festivals are not very common here in my city, and there is no denying majority of city dwellers are yet to taste sushi or sashimi till date! The Festival ends on 5th May 2019 i.e. tomorrow, so clearly I am not writing this for any promotion 🙂 I just wanted to document my dining experience which was indeed a memorable one! This buffet meal (available only for dinner) deals with freshest of ingredients and most of the items are being prepared right in front of you! The price you pay for this meal is INR 1499 plus taxes which is somewhat justified keeping in mind the quality and authenticity that is getting served!
The food festival has been curated by the Asian sous chef of Westin, Sandeep Meitei and when I had visited them he took me around and showed me the entire spread. He told me what all items are there in this dinner buffet and what all should be tried out for sure! He has been doing Asian food for more than 10 years and stresses on authenticity more than anything else, which definitely impressed me.
Chef Meitei took me first to the Sushi counter; of course, sushi and sashimi come to our mind first when we talk about Japanese food. The sushi tasted perfect and I loved the seafood ones (though I also tried all the veg variants) with an authentic touch of vinegared rice and a perfect balance of sugar and salt. Enjoy this with some soy dip and wasabi and experience heaven! I almost tried all the variants and liked them all – like Tuna Nigiri, Ebi Nigiri, Mackerel Nigiri, Kani Sushi, Takuan Maki, Shake (salmon), Kyuri Maki, Spider Roll, Hoso Maki, etc. Also here in this buffet, they are having Donut Sushi (non-veg), which you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Here the sushi is shaped like a donut and topped with Japanese mayo.
Next, I went ahead and tried the Sashimi, for the ones who aren’t sure, this Japanese delicacy is all about fresh raw fish or meat which are sliced into thin pieces and savored with soy sauce dip. It is often eaten with miso soup and sticky rice, though I had it as my first course of meal. Though I didn’t try them all but I absolutely loved the Crab stick Sashimi, it was genuinely the best Sashimi I have had in my short lifespan! Besides Crab stick, they had Tuna, Salmon (belly), Hamachi (yellowtail) and Squid Sashimi as well! So, you won’t run out of options!
They are also doing Robatayaki (i.e. fireside cooking) here in this food festival, that’s one of my favorite sections. This grilled dining section has skewers and grills where they are serving the items with teriyaki and kakuni sauce. These are basically the teppanyaki stations where I opted for some shrimp and chicken skewers for myself! Though there were loads of other ingredients (including veggies) kept aside which you can ask them to toss and grill for you. Never miss this station where you are in for a Japanese feast.
Then they have the cold Salad section where they have got the Kaiso Salad (Seaweed Salad) which I never had before, so, I was damn excited to try it and eventually I did like it. Also they have the Kaisen Salad, in this seafood salad, they are using Tuna, red snapper, crab sticks, etc. Somehow I missed trying this salad! Right after this, comes the Jagaimo Salad, it’s basically the Japanese Potato salad which has got its share of egg in it, surely try this one if you love these two ingredients coming together, like I do.
I went to Tempura station next. These are the lightly battered, deep fried crispy appetizers that go very well with some soy dip. Mostly they had the vegetable tempuras there when I checked out the station though prawn tempura happens to be my favorite! They were having the raw ingredients for Nasu Tempura, Lotus stem tempura, and then they had fresh Shitake mushrooms, onion rings, and zucchini as well. I opted for the Lotus Stem tempura and quite liked it, anyway I was never a big fan of Nasu Tempura!
Next comes my favorite section (as I have already mentioned above), that’s the Ramen Noodle Station. Here the Ramen noodle is being served with strongly flavored wakame, tofu, spring onions, boiled egg, and some other seaweeds. They are also using various mushrooms like button mushrooms, shimeji, enoki, maitake fungus, etc, and veggies like Pak choi and Napa cabbage. Lastly comes the option of proteins and they have got three options there – chicken, pork and beef.
I absolutely loved the Pork Ramen! It was damn soothing, with not so strong influence of soy or any other ingredient marring the overall flavor or aroma. Obviously, the seaweed had an important part to play when it comes to flavor of the mildly spiced broth. The egg was also having an oozing yolk perfect for the ramen. The braised pork belly chunks were brilliant (to say the least) and made my ramen bowl so delectable! Missing Japanese ramen at a Japanese food festival is a serious crime; let me tell you that 🙂
Last section was pretty unique and you won’t find that here in Kolkata. That’s the Okonomiyaki Station, where they basically prepare the Japanese savory Pancakes. They are serving these pancakes with Japanese Mayo and okonomiyaki sauce. The pancakes are prepared at Teppanyaki stations with simple veggies like shredded cabbage and carrot along with options of seafood likes shrimps, or meat. While serving, they added some Bonito Flakes on top which are basically Katsuobushi i.e. dried and fermented Tuna fish flakes. By the way, the end product is simply brilliant! It’s subtle flavored, comforting, and filling!
Also let me quickly touch a few more noteworthy dishes from the buffet menu which I loved, like the Miso Soup with Enoki was indeed comforting to start with. Also, I loved the Oven Roasted Fish which looked dangerously beautiful followed by a pork belly delicacy. This juicy porky affair is called Buta Kakuni and it’s to die for, this braised pork belly chunks are damn delicious, it is probably the best pork dish I had in my life, yes you read that right! And yes, the Udon Noodle that’s being served here is damn authentic; you won’t get this super amazing flavor anywhere in Kolkata, that’s for sure. I loved it so much that I went ahead for a second helping.
The alluring desserts come next comprising of Japanese desserts like Wasabi Panna cotta, Green Tea Cheesecake, Yuzu Cream Brulee, etc. These gems will give the perfect sweet ending to your awesome Japanese feast! If you have loved reading this article, then it’s evident you definitely like these food items and the related information which have been shared. I am sure you do appreciate the Japanese cuisine and its nuances. Hope you will have a great time with your loved ones over some amazing Japanese food pretty soon, and if you remember this article while having your sushi or ramen, then I would be the happiest person! Happy eating and sayōnara!
• What: Konnichiwa Kolkata – Japanese Food Festival
• Where: Seasonal Tastes, The Westin (Kolkata)
• Date: Ongoing, till 5th May (Sunday)
• Time: During dinner (7:30pm-11:00pm)
• Pocket pinch: INR 1499++ for the buffet
Disclaimer: Foodiedada was invited to this food festival at Westin by management/PR