Sakura, ensconced in The Metropolitan Hotel And Spa, is a popular restaurant that has been satisfying discerning diners since 2000. Predictably, it is renowned among Japanese expats, who found heaven in the scallop and hamachi, blast frozen and flown in from Japan. Sakura Master Chef Swapandeep Mukherjee, who keeps a watchful eye on his business while treating diners as family, has set stringent standards and maintains it.
Walking in at 2 p.m. to meet a colleague for luncheon, I was pleased to observe it was understated and minimalist. There was no Buddha statue or Oriental paraphernalia; instead the interiors is minimalistic with plush furniture, subtle décor accents, recurring cherry blossom motifs and picture windows with a view of lush green foliage. The austere interiors serve to direct diners' focus on the food, as it should!! Perusing the menu packed with traditional sushi- sashimi- Japanese pizza- salad- appetizers and entrees, I left the order to the chef and the meal began with the most sumptuous appetiser — Ika Uni. The fresh squid with sea urchin was refreshingly light. I had tried this for the first time and was glad Chef was taking us beyond te standard sushi-sashimi.
Chef then sent out a bespoke bento box packed with his signature dishes!! Ah, this was going to be good! Luncheon began with seaweed salad; if you're a vegetarian this would be a brilliant choice! Up next was a trio of off-the-hook fresh salmon, tuna and octopus sashimi—the salmon and tuna sashimi just melted in my mouth with a combustion of flavours and textures… and the gleam in my eyes said it all! Admittedly I had expected octopus to be tough but it was significantly tenderised "transported to culinary heaven" sashimi… I don't think it could've been better! Then, I tried one of my favourites — Prawn Tempura Roll. Crunchy and flavourful. I had been eyeing what the menu lists as ‘Ginmutsu Saikyoyaki' but we agreed that once you take a forkful it's worth each bite! The chef has this one down to an exact science and if you really like seafood this one is to die for — the miso-marinated grilled fish was plump and flavourful. I would be back for this one! The last entree was Chicken Teriyaki — once again flavourful and juicy.
I must mention here that the credit of enjoying our meal goes to the manager and the master chef who went out of their way to make me relaxed and explained the history and ingredients of each dish served. They repeated this with the other tables too and it was easy to see why Sakura is the preferred choice for Japanese cuisine. Time flew by and then dessert was served: a trio of ice-cream in flavours that are unique to Sakura — green tea, red bean and black sesame! Although I am on a strict diet, I dived into the ice-cream which was deliciously different and the perfect end of a gourmet meal. Reflecting back on this afternoon's luncheon… it's remarkable how well Sakura has retained its customer base despite stiff competition from Megu and Wasabi. As stated before, it's the diligent efforts and leadership of the culinary and management team that has kept it's food quality and service, consistently high. So, do visit Sakura when you have a yen for traditional Japanese. You can't go wrong with so many right choices. Thank you, Chef Swapandeep Mukherjee. Itadake-masu!
— JASMEEN DUGAL
The Metropolitan Hotel And Spa, Bangla Sahib Road, New Delhi